Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Accountability reform and student achievement in Colorado public schools
by Brodsky, Andrew, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2008, 192; 3337065
Abstract (Summary)

Colorado Senate Bill 186, passed in January 2000, established school accountability ratings for all public schools in the state. The ratings, which range from Unsatisfactory to Excellent, became the centerpiece of Colorado's school accountability policy. A high-stakes school reform based exclusively on test scores, they also became a lightning rod for criticism.

This study evaluates the effectiveness of school accountability ratings policy using a mixed-methods approach. A time-series regression approach was employed to examine the effect of receiving an Unsatisfactory rating on future test scores, while interviews with teachers, principals, and parents were conducted in a small set of schools to gauge whether school staff were buying in to ratings policy.

My quantitative results suggest that receiving an Unsatisfactory rating has a small positive effect on a school's future test scores, relative to how the school would have performed had they not received the rating. However, this effect is small relative to the overall difference between Unsatisfactory schools and their higher-performing counterparts. Qualitative results suggest that many school staff may not buying into many aspects of ratings policy, such as the use of a static test score to measure a school's quality.

Based on these results, the state should continue to investigate what types of rewards and sanctions are most effective at improving school quality. The accountability system should minimize negative and unintended consequences by fostering staff buy-in and providing better information about accountability measures to schools. Finally, the accountability system should meet standards for valid measurement systems. For example, school quality measures should have a greater emphasis on student growth, not simply status, and indicators in addition to test scores, should be used to draw a fuller picture of how well schools are performing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Howe, Kenneth R.
Commitee: Briggs, Derek, Mills, Claudia, Shepard, Lorrie, Welner, Kevin
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Educational administration
Keywords: Accountability, Achievement, Colorado, Public schools, Regression, School reform, Testing
Publication Number: 3337065
ISBN: 978-0-549-91667-3
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