Policy Documents

Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Public Education

Stuart W. Elliott –
June 13, 2011

This project originated in the Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA) in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was in its early stages of implementation. The initial discussions were sparked by the different perspectives on the use of test-based incentives by the board members, whose expertise included a wide range of disciplines. In particular, the board’s interest in the topic was animated by the apparent tension between the economics and educational measurement literatures about the potential of test-based accountability to improve student achievement.

As a result of its early discussions, BOTA held workshops about the use of incentives in 2003 and 2005. These early discussions were funded, in part, by support for BOTA from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. National Science Foundation. After these workshops the board identified, defined, and sought support for the research synthesis the board concluded could be undertaken. With generous funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Public Education was appointed in early 2007 to carry on the work that BOTA had started.

The charge called for the committee to examine research related to the use of incentives and to synthesize its implications for the use of test-based incentives in education. The committee held three meetings, as well as a workshop on multiple measures and NCLB that was supported by additional funding from the Carnegie Corporation and the Hewlett Foundation.