Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mary Beth Walker

Second Advisor

Rachana Bhatt

Third Advisor

Christine Roch

Fourth Advisor

David Sjoquist


This dissertation examines the impact of Georgia’s accountability system on both school and student performance. We focus on two components within Georgia’s accountability system – the sanctioning of failing schools and binding subgroup requirements. Schools within Georgia become subject to sanctions upon two consecutive years of failing to show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The subgroup binding requirements, introduced by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, hold schools independently responsible for the performance of given subgroups contingent upon enrollment.

The first question of this dissertation examines the factors that influence a school’s ability to meet assessment standards. We examine the relative importance of school characteristics, as they relate to accountability components, in determining AYP in practice. A binary response model is used as AYP is determined on a pass/fail basis. More specifically, we apply a correlated random effects probit model with a Chamberlain-Mundlak adjustment. The second question of this dissertation examines the impact of binding requirements on subgroup performance, where subgroup performance is defined as the percentage of students scoring at or above proficiency. We employ a regression discontinuity design that compares the performance of bounded and unbounded subgroups to determine the treatment effect. Each question of this dissertation is addressed through evaluating both mean and distributional effects.

We find that imposing sanctions on failing schools has a positive impact on future performance. However, increasing the number of binding requirements has a negative impact on a school’s probability of passage. This result suggests that heterogeneous schools, or schools with several large subgroup populations, are negatively impacted by the requirement. While we find that accountability components have a statistically significant impact on probability of AYP passage, factors related to school resources and quality appear to have a greater influence.

The mechanism for the negative impact of binding requirements remains unidentified as we also find that binding requirements have a slight positive impact on individual subgroup performance. The magnitude of this impact is dependent upon the subgroup examined, school type, and position of the subgroup within the Meets/Exceeds distribution. Overall, our results suggest the need for re-examination of the binding requirements as a method of targeting disadvantaged populations.