Abstract

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 required states to set cutoffs to determine which schools were subject to accountability for their racial/ethnic subgroups. Using a regression discontinuity design and data from North Carolina, this study examines the effects of this policy on teacher turnover and attrition. Subgroup-specific accountability had no overall effects on teacher turnover or attrition, but the policy caused black teachers who taught in schools that were held accountable for the black student subgroup to leave teaching at significantly lower rates, compared with black teachers who taught in schools not accountable for the black subgroup's performance. The policy also caused shifts in the students assigned to black teachers, with schools that were held accountable for the black subgroup less likely to assign black students to black teachers the following year. These findings demonstrate that subgroup-focused policies—particularly those that use cutoffs to determine subgroup accountability—can shape the composition of the teacher labor force in unintended ways, and have implications for the design of future accountability systems that aim to close racial/ethnic gaps in achievement.

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