Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System

David N. Figlio, Lawrence S. Getzler

NBER Working Paper No. 9307
Issued in November 2002
NBER Program(s):Children, Public Economics

The past several years have been marked by a general trend towards increased high-stakes testing for students and schools and test-based school accountability systems. There are many potential school responses to testing programs. This paper investigates the potential that schools respond by gaming the system through reshaping the test pool. Using student-level panel data from six large counties in Florida, we study whether the introduction of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 1996 led schools to reclassify students as disabled and therefore ineligible to contribute to the school's aggregate test scores. Employing student-level fixed effect models and a series of secular trends as controls, we find that schools tend to reclassify low income and previously low performing students as disabled at significantly higher rates following the introduction of the testing regime. Moreover, these behaviors are concentrated among the low income schools most likely to be on the margin of failing the state's accountability system.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9307

Published: Gronberg, T. (ed.) Advances in Microeconomics. Elsevier, 2006.

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