Panel Paper: College Enrollment and School Accountability

Friday, November 9, 2018
8222 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

W. Edward Chi, University of Southern California

College enrollment, a first step in obtaining a college credential, is predicted by prior academic achievement (Fuller, Manski, & Wise, 1982; Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989; Klasik, 2012; Perna, 2005). A potential way to increase college enrollment is to improve academic outcomes prior to college. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) required states to implement K-12 school accountability policies (including standardized testing, performance ratings, rewards, penalties) to increase academic achievement. While many studies suggest that these policies improved contemporaneous (K-12) student test scores, particularly in math, few consider higher education outcomes (Deming & Figlio, 2016). The present study estimates the effect of school accountability policies on college enrollment. Building on Dee and Jacob (2011) and Hanushek and Raymond (2005), the study employs a measure of accountability policy implementation and a comparative interrupted time series (CITS) analytical approach to obtain impact estimates by comparing states with no school accountability policies prior to NCLB relative to those who had previously implemented such policies. The study uses data from 1996 to 2012 on college enrollment from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Descriptively, college enrollment rates generally increased over the period for both states with and without prior implementation of school accountability. However, using the CITS analytical model controlling for time trends, state fixed effects, and time-varying state-specific control variables, there is no consistent evidence that school accountability policies increased college enrollment. Preliminary effect estimates on college enrollment are generally imprecise and negative across institution types. Findings can inform the adoption and evaluation of current and future school accountability systems.

Deming, D. J., & Figlio, D. N. (2016). Accountability in US Education: Applying Lessons from K–12 Experience to Higher Education. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(3), 33–56.

Fuller, W. C., Manski, C. F., & Wise, D. A. (1982). New Evidence on the Economic Determinants of Postsecondary Schooling Choices. The Journal of Human Resources, 17(4), 477–498.

Hanushek, E. A., & Raymond, M. E. (2005). Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 24(2), 297–327.

Hossler, D., Braxton, J., & Coopersmith, G. (1989). Understanding Student College Choice. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research (Vol. 5, pp. 231–288).

Klasik, D. (2012). The College Application Gauntlet: A Systematic Analysis of the Steps to Four-Year College Enrollment. Research in Higher Education, 53(5), 506–549.

Perna, L. W. (2005). The Key to College Access: Rigorous Academic Preparation. In W. G. Tierney, Z. B. Corwin, & J. E. Colyar (Eds.), Preparing for College: Nine Elements of Effective Outreach (pp. 113–134). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.