Carrot and Stick?: Impact of a Low-Stakes School Accountability Program on Student Achievement

Soohyung Lee, Seokjin Woo, and Kyung Hee Kim , Economics Letters 137 , 195-199 , December 2015.

A key concern in the design of education policies relates to the structure of incentives in accountability systems. This paper examines a school accountability program that provides financial support to low-performing schools but has no direct punishment scheme for recipients who do not exhibit improvement. Although the program does not include high-stakes consequences, our estimates indicate that the program reduced the share of underperforming students by 18%. This paper’s results suggest that to improve student achievement, a school accountability program does not need to set high-stakes consequences that potentially induce unwanted strategic behaviors on the part of school workers.