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ERIC Number: ED503716
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
Lessons From the Classroom Level: Federal and State Accountability in Rhode Island
Srikantaiah, Deepa; Zhang, Ying; Swayhoover, Lisa
Center on Education Policy
In the winter and spring of 2007-08, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) expanded its ongoing research on the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) by conducting case studies of six schools in Rhode Island to learn more about the influence of NCLB and related state accountability policies on curriculum, instruction, and student achievement. The schools studied used a variety of instructional practices and included a mix of urban, suburban, and rural schools, as well as elementary, middle, and high schools. The study interviewed school administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and conducted formal classroom observations that documented the time spent on various types of instructional practices and teacher-student interactions in the six schools. These case studies show how administrators and teachers in different schools have responded to federal and state accountability policies designed to raise student achievement. Key findings include: (1) High-performing schools in the study and their school districts seemed to have the greatest alignment between curriculum and state standards; (2) Many teachers and administrators in case study schools acknowledged the pressure to "teach to the test" by focusing curriculum on specific content or skills included on the state test; (3) Most common observed mode of instruction in the elementary and middle school classes was teacher-led discussion, frequently using closed questions; (4) Study participants reported focusing more instructional time on the tested subjects of English language arts (ELA) and mathematics at the expense of other subject areas, and more attention was devoted to "bubble kids," (students who scored just below the proficient level on state tests); (5) Administrators and teachers in case study schools are making greater use of test data to reach decisions about curriculum, instruction, teacher professional development, and other areas; (6) Some study participants expressed concern about the negative effects of what they saw as an over-reliance on standardized tests to measure achievement; and (7) Many of the participants from the case studies reported that they lacked sufficient resources, including funding, staff, and materials, to prepare students for the NECAP tests. The report concludes that in the Rhode Island districts and schools studied, test-driven, standards-based accountability has significantly changed curriculum and instruction, influencing student achievement in some case study schools, but that there may be negative impacts of changes as well. Whether changes in curriculum and instruction will lead to significant gains in achievement in most schools is yet to be determined. Two appendixes are included: (1) Additional Information about Study Interviews; and (2) Classroom Observation Instrument. (Contains 4 footnotes and 3 figures.)
Center on Education Policy. 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 522, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-822-8065; Fax: 202-822-6008; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Intermediate Grades; Junior High Schools; Kindergarten; Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation
Authoring Institution: Center on Education Policy, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: Rhode Island
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001