NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Accountability, Incentives and Behavior: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing in the Chicago Public Schools

Brian A. Jacob

NBER Working Paper No. 8968
Issued in May 2002
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED

The recent federal education bill, No Child Left Behind, requires states to test students in grades three to eight each year, and to judge school performance on the basis of these test scores. While intended to maximize student learning, there is little empirical evidence about the effectiveness of such policies. This study examines the impact of an accountability policy implemented in the Chicago Public Schools in 1996-97. Using a panel of student-level, administrative data, I find that math and reading achievement increased sharply following the introduction of the accountability policy, in comparison to both prior achievement trends in the district and to changes experienced by other large, urban districts in the mid-west. I demonstrate that these gains were driven largely by increases in test-specific skills and student effort, and did not lead to comparable gains on a state-administered, low-stakes exam. I also find that teachers responded strategically to the incentives along a variety of dimensions -- by increasing special education placements, preemptively retaining students and substituting away from low-stakes subjects like science and social studies.

download in pdf format
   (551 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (551 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Published: Jacob, Brian A. "Accountability, Incentives And Behavior: The Impact Of High-Stakes Testing In The Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, 2005, v89(5-6,Jun), 761-796.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Hanushek and Raymond w10591 Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance?
Hastings and Weinstein w13009 No Child Left Behind: Estimating the Impact on Choices and Student Outcomes
Figlio and Winicki w9319 Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition
Neal and Schanzenbach w13293 Left Behind By Design: Proficiency Counts and Test-Based Accountability
Jacob and Levitt w9413 Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating
 
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