School Performance, Accountability and Waiver Reforms: Evidence from Louisiana
States that received federal waivers to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act were required to implement reforms in designated "Focus Schools" that contribute to achievement gaps. In this study, we examine the performance effects of such "differentiated accountability" reforms in the state of Louisiana. The Focus School reforms in Louisiana emphasized school-needs assessments and aligned technical assistance. These state reforms may have also been uniquely high-powered because they were linked to a new letter-based school-rating system. We examine the impact of these reforms in a sharp regression discontinuity (RD) design based on the assignment of schools to Focus status. We find that, over each of three years, Louisiana's Focus School reforms had no measurable impact on school performance. We discuss evidence that these findings may reflect policy uncertainty and implementation fidelity at the state and local level.
We would like to acknowledge financial support from the Spencer, Walton, and WT Grant Foundations. We also express appreciation for comments provided by seminar participants at Stanford University and by participants at the AEFP and APPAM research conferences. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Thomas S. Dee & Elise Dizon-Ross, 2019. "School Performance, Accountability, and Waiver Reforms: Evidence From Louisiana," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol 41(3), pages 316-349.