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May 7, 2003, Extra Credit
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May 7, 2003
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Recent Studies Confirm Accountability Systems Like Those Required by No Child Left Behind "Not Only Help Students in General, but At-Risk Students in Particular"
In a recent commentary article in Education Week, Herbert J. Walberg, the principal investigator at the Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for Student Success, a university scholar and professor emeritus of education and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, summarized the findings of several recent education studies. Following are excerpts from his column:

"Contrary to earlier fears, systems of goals, examinations, and incentives not only help students in general, but at-risk students in particular. Educators, policymakers, and even scholars have overlooked the significance of several scholarly reports that, when taken together, make a strong case for accountability."

"Accountability, moreover, is arguably the most cost-effective feature of K- 12 education. Harvard University economist Caroline Hoxby has estimated that state payments to commercial firms for standardized testing, standards-setting, and reporting in 2000 totaled $234 million (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2002). Averaging $5.81 per American student, accountability was a tiny fraction of the average per-student spending of $8,157."

"In the most rigorous U.S. accountability study to date, Stanford University economists Martin Carnoy and Susanna Loeb examined the relation of scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to the strength of state accountability systems. ("Researchers Debate Impact of Tests," Feb. 5, 2003.) Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Florida were rated highest, since they had extensive testing, school report cards, high school exit examinations, and consequences for school staffs. Stronger accountability led to higher NAEP-score gains, particularly those of African-American and Hispanic students."

"Contrary to prevalent hand-wringing, stronger accountability did not reduce promotion and raise dropout rates, but raised measures of both "lower order" achievement and advanced proficiency. Surprisingly, the Stanford group found that strong accountability reduced teacher turnover, a fact suggesting that standards-oriented, goal-directed schools are not only more productive but also more pleasant work environments than schools where whims reign."

The complete text of the Education Week commentary can be found at:
http://www.edweek.org/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=33walberg.h22&keywords
=Walberg%20


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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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