WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN THE NCLB ERA? A State-Level Analysis of Achievement as Influenced by Critical School and Non-school Factors
Fouquet, Jeffrey Michael
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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This study analyzes the results of 4th grade reading and mathematics as well as critical school and non-school factors to determine what happened to student outcomes during the peak years of NCLB, 2003-2009. Converting each state’s reported percent proficient to a NAEP scale equivalent (NSE) using equipercentile linking has been done in numerous federally commissioned reports. Such a conversion enables comparisons of student performance across states and over time utilizing a standardized and stable metric. This study adds to the existing literature by examining how each NSE correlates to policy-relevant and reform-relevant school factors such as location (urban/rural), class size, and per pupil revenue in addition to critical non-school factors such as race, income, family structure, and parents’ level of education. Furthermore, using each NSE conversion’s relative error, or RE, these correlations are weighted down or up using the inverse of RE (1/RE) to determine the validity of the patterns being observed. In fourth grade mathematics, the NSE was negatively affected by percent African American, percent of poverty, and percent of urban and rural schools. In fourth grade reading, the NSE was negatively affected by percent African American, percent urban/rural schools, and class size. This study suggests that policies aimed at improving student outcomes have a deleterious impact on already disadvantaged students, and that policy decisions based on state-reported percent proficient have the unfortunate consequence of masking lower standards of learning for these same students.
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