NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System

Julie Berry Cullen, Randall Reback

NBER Working Paper No. 12286
Issued in June 2006
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED

We explore the extent to which schools manipulate the composition of students in the test-taking pool in order to maximize ratings under Texas' accountability system in the 1990s. We first derive predictions from a static model of administrators' incentives given the structure of the ratings criteria, and then test these predictions by comparing differential changes in exemption rates across student subgroups within campuses and across campuses and regimes. Our analyses uncover evidence of a moderate degree of strategic behavior, so that there is some tension between designing systems that account for heterogeneity in student populations and that are manipulation-free.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12286

Published: Gronberg. T. and D. Jansen (eds.) Improving School Accountability: Check-Ups or Choice, Advances in Applied Microeconomics 14. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2006.

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