Brian A. Jacob: Differentiated Accountability and Education Production: Evidence from NCLB Waivers


Monday, September 12, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Brian A. JacobWalter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy and Professor of Economics, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education granted states the opportunity to apply for waivers from the core requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In exchange, states implemented systems of differentiated accountability in which they identified and intervened in their lowest-performing schools (“Priority” schools) and schools with the largest achievement gaps between subgroups of students (“Focus” schools).  

We use administrative data from Michigan in a series of regression-discontinuity analyses to study the effects of these reforms on schools and students. Overall, we find that neither reform had a noticeable impact on various measures of school staffing, student composition, or academic achievement. These disappointing findings serve as a cautionary tale for the capacity of the accountability provisions embedded in the recent reauthorization of NCLB, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to meaningfully improve student and school outcomes.

View paper
(joint with Steven W. Hemelt)

This seminar co-sponsored by the Partnering in Education Research (PIER) program, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

About the speaker

Brian A. Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy and Professor of Economics in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. His primary fields of interest are labor economics, program evaluation, and the economics of education.

Jacob’s research on education covers a wide variety of topics from school choice to teacher labor markets to standards and accountability. His work has appeared in top economics journals including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics.

Earlier in his career, he served as a policy analyst in the NYC Mayor's Office and taught middle school in East Harlem. 

Jacob received his BA from Harvard College and his PhD from the University of Chicago.  In 2008 he was awarded APPAM's David N. Kershaw Prize for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy by Age 40.

See also: Fall 2016