Finally, the estimated effect of NCLB on achievement gaps may be explained by changes in retention policies, special education classification, or definitions of “continuous student enrollment” that determine which students are subject to the law’s testing and reporting requirements (cf. Davidson et al., 2013). Any of these processes may exempt students from the requirements of regular testing; to the extent that the students removed are disproportionately black or Hispanic, these processes may confound the estimated effects of the policy. A rigorous test of this hypothesis is beyond the scope of the current study. However, it remains a potential alternative explanation for the findings observed here. 12 Using the 1993-1994, 1999-2000, 2003-2004, and 2007-2008 waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey, we examined changes in the white-minority gap in exposure to high quality teachers over time across states. We considered four measures of high quality teachers to approximate NCLB’s definition of “high quality.” We measured differences in exposure to teachers with Master’s degrees (there was no variation in exposure to teachers with Bachelor’s degrees), teachers with regular or standard certification, and teachers with any certification (relative to none). We also computed the white/minority ratio of exposure to teacher experience. We used interrupted time series models to examine differences in exposure pre- and post-NCLB among states with varying segregation levels, minority population sizes, and proportions of students being held accountable. Findings are available from the authors upon request. Overall, we find no significant post- NCLB changes in the gap in any measure of exposure to high quality teachers; nor do we find evidence that that the gaps changed more in states where more minority students were in schools where their scores were used for subgroup-specific accountability purposes.
31 Conclusion Overall, we find that racial achievement gaps have been closing slowly since 1990. This is true for both white-black and white-Hispanic gaps. Based on this trend, we turn to the period of No Child Left Behind and ask whether this federal policy, which explicitly aimed to narrow gaps between minority and nonminority students, was successful at achieving its goal. We find no consistent evidence that NCLB has narrowed achievement gaps, on average. Our estimates are very precise, and we can rule out the possibility that NCLB had, on average, meaningfully large effects (effects larger than 0.01 standard deviations change per year) on achievement gaps. Despite the fact that NCLB appears to have had no average effect on achievement gaps, its effect does appear to vary among states. Moreover, the effects of NCLB vary with the proportion of minority students in schools where they are subject to accountability pressure. This is consistent with the hypothesis we framed at the start of the paper—that is, that greater information about achievement gaps and greater subgroup-specific accountability pressure on schools should lead to more rapid narrowing of these gaps.
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- Winter '18
- No child left behind Act, U.S. state, NCLB