the labor market, and has become increasingly important for economic mobility. At the same time, access to college, particularly to more selective colleges, has become increasingly dependent on students’ test scores and academic achievement (Alon & Tienda, 2007; Bastedo & Jaquette, 2011; Grodsky & Pattison, in progress; Posselt, Jaquette, Bastedo, & Bielby, 2010). Because of the growing importance of academic achievement, the white-black test score gap now explains virtually all of the white-black difference in college enrollment (including enrollment at the most selective colleges and universities) and most or all of the white-black differences in wages (Alon & Tienda, 2007;
3 Bollinger, 2003; Carneiro, Heckman, & Masterov, 2003; Neal & Johnson, 1996; Posselt et al., 2010). Eliminating racial achievement gaps is therefore essential for reducing broader racial disparities in U.S. society. Evidence on the national long-term trend in racial achievement gaps is well documented by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Achievement gaps in both math and reading between white and black students have narrowed substantially over the last forty years (Grissmer et al., 1998; Hedges & Nowell, 1999; Hemphill et al., 2011; Kober, Chudowsky, & Chudowsky, 2010; Neal, 2005; Reardon & Robinson, 2007; Vanneman et al., 2009). Gaps in reading between white and Hispanic students follow the same trend, though gaps in math between these two groups have largely stagnated since the late 1970s, the first year in which NAEP data were disaggregated for Hispanic students (Hemphill et al., 2011; Reardon & Robinson, 2007). Despite this progress, gaps remain large, ranging from two-thirds to slightly less than one standard deviation, depending on the grade and subject. Importantly, both the size of achievement gaps and their trends over time vary considerably across states (Hemphill et al., 2011; Kober et al., 2010; National Center for Education Statistics, 2013; Reardon, Kalogrides, Valentino, Shores, & Greenberg, 2013; Vanneman et al., 2009). How Might the No Child Left Behind Legislation Affect Academic Achievement Gaps? NCLB may narrow achievement gaps through several mechanisms. First, the law requires assessment of nearly all students in grades three to eight, along with public reporting of results, disaggregated by subgroup. Illuminating the performance of students from historically low-performing backgrounds—the so-called “informational aspects” of the policy (Hanushek & Raymond, 2004)—may motivate schools and teachers to focus their attention on narrowing gaps (Rothstein, 2004). Second, NCLB may reduce achievement gaps by tying accountability sanctions to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of each subgroup. Here, an escalating series of consequences
4 may pressure schools to improve the academic performance of student subgroups with low proficiency rates. After two consecutive years “in need of improvement,” a school must offer transfer options to families; after four, corrective actions must be taken to change school personnel or academic functions; after six, the school must be restructured by replacing the administration, teaching staff, or governance structure. If these actions, or the threat of these actions, increase achievement among low-performing student subgroups, achievement gaps may narrow.
- Winter '18
- No child left behind Act, U.S. state, NCLB