We conduct the first nationwide study of incentives under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which requires states to punish schools failing to meet target passing rates on students' standardized exams. States' idiosyncratic policies created variation in the risk of failure among very similar schools in different states, which we use to identify effects of accountability pressure. We find NCLB lowers teachers' perceptions of job security, shifts time towards specialist teachers in high-stakes subjects and away from whole-class instruction, and has positive or neutral effects on students' enjoyment of learning and achievement in reading, math, and science.
Reback, Randall, Jonah Rockoff, and Heather Schwartz. "Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under No Child Left Behind." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 6, no. 3 (August 2014): 207-241.
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