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S. Michael Gaddis photo

School accountability and the black-white test score gap

Publication Abstract

Gaddis, S. Michael, and Douglas Lee Lauen. 2014. "School accountability and the black-white test score gap." Social Science Research, 44: 15-31.

Since at least the 1960s, researchers have closely examined the respective roles of families, neighborhoods, and schools in producing the black–white achievement gap. Although many researchers minimize the ability of schools to eliminate achievement gaps, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) increased pressure on schools to do so by 2014. In this study, we examine the effects of NCLB's subgroup-specific accountability pressure on changes in black–white math and reading test score gaps using a school-level panel dataset on all North Carolina public elementary and middle schools between 2001 and 2009. Using difference-in-difference models with school fixed effects, we find that accountability pressure reduces black–white achievement gaps by raising mean black achievement without harming mean white achievement. We find no differential effects of accountability pressure based on the racial composition of schools, but schools with more affluent populations are the most successful at reducing the black–white math achievement gap. Thus, our findings suggest that school-based interventions have the potential to close test score gaps, but differences in school composition and resources play a significant role in the ability of schools to reduce racial inequality.

DOI:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.10.008 (Full Text)

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