Special Program Article Review

Special Program Article Review

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Article Review on Test-Driven External Accountability

Review of the Research

Intent of the Article

The article Is Test-Driven External Accountability Effective? Synthesizing the Evidence from Cross-State Causal-Comparative and Correlational Studies explores the studies that had been conducted to reveal the effects of the accountability policies that had been put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act. The article provides a critical combination of the major studies, correlational and cross-comparative, that researched on these effects especially on language and mathematics achievement. The 14 discussed studies, through 76 effect-size meta-analysis estimates, revealed that test-driven accountability policies had a moderately positive effect on education; yet, they also indicated an extremely low change on the racial success gap (Lee, 2008). Although the article was able to analyze 14 studies and offer discussions on the implications of the accountability policies as postulated in the No Child Left Behind Act, it revealed multiple inconsistencies, limitation and uncertainties in many of these studies. Thus the article called for more robust evidence-based research that would clearly provide a link to policy outcome.

Review of Literature

The article explores the policies of public high stake testing as used in the United States of America and the studies that have been conducted to explore the effects of these policies on the level of education, or on the move to bridge the achievement gap. According to the No Child Left Behind Act, testing should not be done on a specified merit, such as on a particular subject, but it should define success according to student proficiency. The introduction of the policies that guide the No Child Left Behind movement, and their various implementation strategies in different states has led to a shift in the public’s perception of education (Holbein & Ladd, 2017). However, the effects that come with these policies could be assessed against the expectations of the policy makers, or those of the general public depending on the results the policies promised. Test-driven external accountability involved the state governments, the schools, parents and teachers coming together to ensure that all children are viewed by their competence not only in sciences and mathematics but also in all other known talents (Markowitz, 2018). The article reviewed these policies and explored their implications, which led to the exploration of the various studies that have attempted to find out whether test-driven external accountability has been positively effective (Lee, 2008). The main reason that led to the research was the controversies that had surrounded the question of whether test-driven external accountability hinders or enhances the bridging of academic success gap.


The study used fourteen carefully selected causal comparative cross-state studies that had fore explored the impacts on the level of education caused by test-driven accountability policies. The selection criteria for the studies involved the establishment of test-driven external accountability by states as an independent variable (Lee, 2008). It included high stakes testing. Thus a study had to encompass classifications or comparative measures involving state accountability policies, to be a part of this article’s research. Moreover, the studies, to qualify for selection, were required to indicate a measure of academic success provided by standardized tests with comparable results across states. The reports of the studies were also required to have been published not before 1990. Independent variables included the measuring and definition strategies used by the selected studies on state accountability policies (Lee, 2008). Dependent variables comprised of the choices of the selected studies on student achievement in terms of subjects, grades and time period. This article also explored the articles used by the selected studies in relation to states, students, and schools.


Of the 14 selected studies, seven indicated an inclination towards high stakes testing, six provided conflicting and insignificant results and one narrowed its focus on low stakes testing (Lee, 2008). The effects of the test-driven external accountability policies, as indicated by the selected studies, portrayed a moderately positive effect on education levels. However, these studies might not have considered other factors that may have led to increase in the quality of education. Additionally the studies were subjected to scrutiny over the effects of the test-driven external accountability policies on bridging the education achievement gap; in this respect, the studies showed no significant positive effect on the racial gap.

Critical Review of the Research

Review of the intent

The article intended to seek the answer to the question of whether test-driven external accountability policies were effective in their intended course. Since these policies were introduced in the United States, there have been controversies surrounding the uncertainty of whether they are bringing the expected results or not. Thus, the author sought to analyze the studies that have been largely concerned with the comparable state accountability policies and their effects on education (Lee, 2008). The author followed his intent because after analyzing the studies, he concluded that, according to the studies, the test-driven external accountability policies had moderately positive effects on overall education quality but did not lead to a significant positive effect on bridging the education achievement gap in relation to races. However, the article indicated that more evidence needed to be available to make better conclusive remarks on the effects of these policies.

Review of Literature

According to Mintrop & Trujillo (2007), the accountability system in California and in the No Child Left Behind Act across the United States involves assessment, goal setting and state standards on the basis of quantitative indicators such as the Adequate Yearly Progress and the Academic Performance Index. Yet, except differences in performance on the various schools in California, the foundations upon which relationships between performance levels and improvement processes are built are not firm. The article, having analyzed a number findings made by various studies, concluded that the effects of test-driven external accountability policies are not highly significant in the improvement of the county’s education system (Lee, 2008). Revising these policies, or conducting further research to acquire more scientific and conclusive evidence, may be critical in sharpening the blunt parts that comprise our education system.


Holbein, J. B., & Ladd, H. F. (2017). Accountability pressure: Regression discontinuity estimates of how No Child Left Behind influenced student behavior. Economics of Education Review58, 55-67.

Lee, J. (2008). Is test-driven external accountability effective? Synthesizing the evidence from cross-state causal-comparative and correlational studies. Review of educational research78(3), 608-644.

Markowitz, A. J. (2018). Changes in school engagement as a function of No Child Left Behind: A comparative interrupted time series analysis. American educational research journal55(4), 721-760.

Mintrop, H., & Trujillo, T. (2007). School improvement under test-driven accountability: A comparison of high and low performing middle schools in California. National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.

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