Variation in Student Achievement: Effects of NCLB on Standards-based Accountability in Arizona


  • Avinash Thakur Avon Grove High School
  • Nicole Yates University of Southern California



No Child Left Behind, Arizona, Student Achievement, Education Policy, Accountability, Test Scores, School Ratings, Federal


Over the years, the United States government has assumed a larger role in educational policy. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is one of the most notable examples of an increase in federal involvement in education. Through the creation of accountability systems, NCLB required states to test in reading and mathematics. Prior research has maintained that states with pre-existing test-based accountability remained relatively unchanged by the passage of the Act. States without test-based accountability measures pre-NCLB may have been more likely to be affected by its implementation (e.g., Arizona). In order to test this claim, I examined student achievement in Arizona pre-, during, and post-NCLB under AZ LEARNS and the A-F Accountability System over certain years (1996, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2015). Through the use of data from the Nation’s Report Card and the Arizona Department of Education, I sought to answer two key questions: (1) How do Arizona’s achievement scores pre-, during, and post-NCLB compare to other accountability types? and (2) In what way do Arizona school ratings vary during and after NCLB? By conducting a series of independent sample t-tests, I compared Arizona’s state scale scores to states with moderate accountability, and I compared school ratings under the accountability systems. These analyses reject the null hypothesis that there is no significant difference associated with school ratings under the two accountability systems, therefore supporting the prior stated claim. The results offer insight into Arizona’s accountability and are valuable for future evidence-based policymaking.


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Author Biography

Nicole Yates, University of Southern California

Dr. Nicole Yates, Educational Psychology, PhD in Urban Education Policy

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How to Cite

Thakur, A., & Yates, N. (2023). Variation in Student Achievement: Effects of NCLB on Standards-based Accountability in Arizona. Journal of Student Research, 12(1).



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