The theory of action upon which high-stakes accountability policies are based calls for systemic reforms in educational systems that will emerge by pairing incentives for improvement with extensive and targeted technical assistance (TA) to build the capacity of low-performing schools and districts. To this end, a little discussed and often overlooked aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandated that, in addition to sanctions, states were required to provide TA to build the capacity of struggling schools and Local Education Agencies (LEAs, or districts) to help them improve student achievement.
Although every state in the country provides some form of TA to its lowest performing districts, we know little about the content of these programs or about their efficacy in improving student performance. In this Summer 2014 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, authors Katharine O. Strunk, Andrew McEachin, and Theresa N. Westover use both quantitative and qualitative analyses to explore the actions taken by TA providers in one state—California—and examine whether the TA and support tied to California's NCLB sanctions succeeds in improving student achievement.
Read the full paper at Wiley Online.