NCLB and Accountability: How Do Testing and Teachers Impact Retention?

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Harrison, Brittany
Costanzo, Richard
Gulemetova, Michaela
The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, Vol. 3, 2011: 138-143.
This study seeks to uncover the role that high-stakes testing mandated by “No Child Left Behind” legislation and student-teacher ratio has on the retention of the traditional high-school student with an emphasis on the retention disparity between minority students and their White peers. This empirical, quantitative analysis uses school level data from the Common Core of Data. This data set was used to observe national trends between minority students and their White counterparts because minority students are generally the group plagued by underachievement and high dropout rates. Given the already expansive body of work surrounding what we refer to as the achievement gap, which can include issues of achievement ranging from grades to standardized test scores and even the issue of retention rates which this study focuses on, this study seeks to approach the issue from a different direction with a broader data set. Analyses showed that for minority male students (Black and Hispanic) a lower-student teacher ratio greatly contributed to their retention yet conversely White females’ retention seemed to be somewhat unaffected by student-teacher ratio fluctuations and high-stakes testing. Therefore, this study suggests that although student-teacher ratio and testing do have an impact on retention, this impact is primarily only for minority students, impacting minority males at the highest level.