Feeling the Florida Heat? How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Voucher and Accountability Pressure

May 2013
With Jane Hannaway, Dan Goldhaber, and David Figlio; American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Vol 5, Issue 2

While numerous studies have found that school accountability boosts test scores, it is uncertain whether estimated test score gains reflect genuine improvements or merely “gaming” behaviors. This paper brings to bear new evidence from a unique five-year, three-round survey conducted of a census of public elementary schools in Florida that is linked with detailed administrative data on student performance. We show that schools facing accountability pressure changed their instructional practices in meaningful ways, and that these responses can explain a portion of the test score gains associated with the Florida school accountability system.