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Accountability Changes Schools, But Teachers Have Final Say

August 20, 2008 1 min read

NCLB’s accountability measures are changing the way schools meet the needs of students, especially minorities, according to researchers.

“NCLB provides new incentives for schools to improve these students’ performance, and it seems like schools are doing so,” David Figlio of Northwestern University wrote in yesterday’s chat on edweek.org.

But the overall impact of federal and state accountability systems depends on the leadership of the principal and the individual choices of teachers, according to research published today.

In one study of 245 elementary schools in California, Melissa Henne and Heeju Jang of the University of California, Berkeley, found that the achievement gap between whites and Hispanics narrowed in schools where principals focused on improving instruction.

But another study by RAND Corp. researchers suggest that teachers are the final arbiter over how much influence the accountability measures have. Based on surveys of teachers in three states, the team led by RAND’s Laura Hamilton found “large amount of within-school variance” of teachers’ instructional efforts, even in districts that had aggressive responses to accountability systems.

Both of the studies are included in a new book published by Policy Analysis for California Education at UC Berkeley. You can read both studies and an introduction by PACE’s Bruce Fuller at this page.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Bloggers, bloggers everywhere. In the edweek.org chat, Sherman Dorn asked the first question and Diane Ravitch of Bridging Differences added her own later. Figlio’s partner in answering questions was the anonymous and provocative eduwonkette. Soon, we’ll take over the world.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.