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This study examines the relationship between high-stakes school accountability and its effects upon student test scores and school policies. The authors seek to understand the extent to which accountability sanctions and incentives for the poorest-performing schools in Florida explain subsequent changes in school practices and policies as well as achievement — measured by state assessment data, Stanford-10 assessment data and surveys of public school principals. Based on statistical analysis of the lowest-performing schools, the authors report that accountability incentives and sanctions are related to school practice and policy as well as to student achievement. The report uses comprehensive data sources and applies appropriate methodologies to address the research question. Its analyses demonstrate a mediating relationship for school policies between accountability and achievement gains, a finding consistent with both the literature on the subject and common sense. However, the report overstates and makes causal claims about the relationship between accountability sanctions and improvements in school achievement. In this way, the report’s title and some causal statements in the body of the report are unfortunate in that they overstate the report’s sound findings and suggest that vouchers and other accountability measures are shown to be the cause of achievement gains in some of Florida’s lowest-performing schools.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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