NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Cramming: The Effects of School Accountability on College-Bound Students

Colleen Donovan, David N. Figlio, Mark Rush

NBER Working Paper No. 12628
Issued in October 2006
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED

This paper is the first to explore the effects of school accountability systems on high-achieving students' long-term performance. Using exceptional data from a large highly-selective state university, we relate school accountability pressure in high school to a student's university-level grades and study habits. We exploit a change in the state's accountability system in 1999 that led to some schools becoming newlythreatened by accountability pressure and others becoming newly-unthreatened to identify the effects of accountability pressure. We find that an accountability system based on a low-level test of basic skills apparently led to generally reduced performance by high-achieving students, while an accountability system based on a more challenging criterion-referenced exam apparently led to improved performance in college on mathematics and other technical subjects. Both types of systems are associated with increased "cramming" by students in college. The results indicate that the nature of an accountability system can influence its effectiveness.

download in pdf format
   (162 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (162 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12628

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Figlio, Rush, and Yin w16089 Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning
Cullen and Reback w12286 Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System
Neal and Schanzenbach w13293 Left Behind By Design: Proficiency Counts and Test-Based Accountability
Feng, Figlio, and Sass w16070 School accountability and teacher mobility
Hanushek and Raymond w10591 Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us