Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition

23 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2002 Last revised: 25 Apr 2015

See all articles by David N. Figlio

David N. Figlio

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joshua Winicki

American Institutes for Research

Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

School accountability systems based on high-stakes testing of students have become ubiquitous in the United States, and are now federal policy as well. This paper identifies a previously-unresearched method through which schools faced with potential sanctions may 'game the system' in order to have higher aggregate student test scores than might otherwise be warranted. There exists a well-established link between nutrition and short-term cognitive functioning. Hence, we investigate whether school districts exploit this relationship by strategically altering school nutrition menus during testing periods in an apparent attempt to artificially increase student test scores. Using detailed daily school nutrition data from a random sample of Virginia school districts, we find that school districts having schools faced with potential sanctions under Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) accountability system apparently respond by substantially increasing calories in their menus on testing days, while those without such immediate pressure do not change their menus. Suggestive evidence indicates that the school districts who do this the most experience the largest increases in pass rates.

Suggested Citation

Figlio, David N. and Winicki, Joshua, Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition (November 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9319. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=352002

David N. Figlio (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joshua Winicki

American Institutes for Research ( email )

1000 Thomas Jefferson, NW
Washington, DC 20007
United States
202-298-2967 (Phone)
202-298-2979 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
71
Abstract Views
1,355
rank
324,935
PlumX Metrics