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Holding High Hopes: How High Schools Respond to State Accountability Policies


"State and national assessment results show that student performance in many elementary schools has improved over the last decade. Some researchers have argued that a portion of these gains can be attributed to the pressures generated by state accountability systems that have set standards, focused attention, and created stronger incentives for improved performance.... High schools, however, have not experienced the same positive effects, and we know little about how high school staff respond to new external accountability pressures. The study (Gross & Goertz, 2005) reviewed in this issue of CPRE Policy Briefs provides insight into how teachers and administrators in American public high schools are influenced by and attempt to address the problems posed by standards-based state accountability systems. Our analysis builds upon earlier studies that used smaller and less representative samples of secondary schools ..., sometimes agreeing with and sometimes challenging their conclusions about the effects of increased accountability and high schools."