Measuring Instructional Responses to Standards-Based Accountability

by Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Although it may not be possible to fully understand how state-based accountability (SBA) initiatives influence mathematics teachers in-classroom approach to the subject matter, it is important to understand that instructional reform efforts that become externally mandated testing policies do affect teachers’ decisions about classroom content. While SBA systems do not mandate specific instructional approaches for teachers, any effects of SBA on student achievement are likely to occur largely because of changes in teachers’ approaches to their subject matter. SBA systems also change teachers’ classroom practices by creating stronger incentives to improve student testing achievement, which in turn may lead teachers to focus on raising test scores rather than improving student achievement more generally. Using a stratified random sampling procedure, this study selected 25 school districts from three states and randomly selected 100 schools per state from these districts to survey mathematics teachers’ responses to SBA. One-half of respondents expressed concern about high-achieving students-valuable information about the ways that SBA is influencing teachers’ classroom work. Any use of surveys for accountability purposes must include safeguards to limit bias. By presenting a framework for understanding teacher responses to SBA testing requirements, this work sets the stage for a more formal investigation of these questions. To inform the debate about whether SBA leads to genuine improvement in student achievement or to inflated scores that indicate a too-narrow curriculum, SBA systems must be monitored for bias, political backlash, and high costs.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.