Texas’ test-based accountability system, introduced in 1993 under Gov. George W. Bush, improved academic performance and earnings (by age 25) for students in schools at risk of a low-performance rating, but hurt students in higher-scoring schools, according to a study reported in Education Next.
. . . pressure on schools to avoid a low performance rating led low-scoring students to score significantly higher on a high-stakes math exam in 10th grade. These students were also more likely to accumulate significantly more math credits and to graduate from high school on time. Later in life, they were more likely to attend and graduate from a four-year college, and they had higher earnings at age 25.
These schools increased math courses for students who’d failed the eighth-grade exam and boosted staffing and instructional time, the analysis found.
However, higher-performing schools seeking a “recognized” rating were likely to more low-scoring students to special education to exempt their scores from lowering the school’s overall rating. These students were less likely to complete college and earned less at age 25.
“High-stakes testing creates strong incentives to game the system,” conclude the authors.