Thursday, October 10, 2013

School-Based Accountability and the Distribution of Teacher Quality Across Grades in Elementary School

This study uses North Carolina data to explore whether the quality of teachers in the lower elementary grades (K–2) falls short of teacher quality in the upper grades (3–5) and to examine the hypothesis that school accountability pressures contribute to such quality shortfalls. The concern with the early grades arises from recent studies highlighting how children's experiences in those years have lasting effects on their later outcomes.

Using two credentials-based measures of teacher quality, This study documents within-school quality shortfalls in the lower grades, and shows that the shortfalls increased with the introduction of No Child Left Behind.

Consistent with that pattern, this study finds that schools responded to accountability pressures by moving their weaker teachers down to the lower grades and stronger teachers up to the higher grades. These findings support the view that accountability pressure induces schools to pursue actions that work to the disadvantage of children in the lower grades.

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