Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Marytza Gawlik


Spurred by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, virtually every educational reform program now includes an accountability component that requires sound data collection and reporting (NCLB, 2002, section 101). Drawing from empirically based and theoretical literature in the field, this dissertation examines Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and the accountability provisions found in Title One of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reform. States have the ability to statistically manipulate their AYP implementation, which may give a false impression to the public that AYP is a consistent measure of school effectiveness across the country. The literature review (which was previously published, Maleyko & Gawlik, 2011) identifies the measurement concerns with the implementation of AYP, the benefits of AYP, the unintended consequences, along with the complexities involved with establishing school accountability and the effective and ineffective provisions of the NCLB reform.

One of the most important parts of the NCLB reform is the set of accountability standards for schools, school districts, and states because it is the mechanism in which the framers of NCLB believe that school improvement will occur on a national level. This study examines a portion of the NCLB accountability system in order to measure the impact that the legislation is having on school reform efforts. It further addresses the problem of consistency with the implementation of AYP in different states by comparing the impact that the reform is having on a sample of four states, 1) California, 2) Michigan, 3) North Carolina, and 4) Texas in relationship to the 2005 and 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and mathematics. School level comparisons of the NAEP and state accountability assessments are used to measure differences within the sample. The NAEP data was accessed through a restricted level application with the National Center for Educational Statistics(NCES). The NAEP is a complicated measurement tool, this study is the first that could be found which calculates a school level proficiency score in order to compare results in the sample states. Finally, a qualitative methodology was implemented in order to interview teachers and principals to measure the type of responses that schools were implementing as a result of NCLB and AYP.

The findings from this study show that the use of the NAEP assessment is an effective technique to analyze the consistency of AYP among the states. The findings also show that the standards implemented among the sample states in this study are much different. The quantitative data (mathematics and reading assessments in grades 4 and 8) from the years 2005 and 2007 showed that the Michigan AYP standards and state accountability assessment proficiency levels have a close relationship with the basic level NAEP scale proficiency standards. The Texas state AYP and state accountability assessment provided for a very low correlation with the NAEP at the proficient level NAEP scale and basic level proficiency standard. The results showed that North Carolina had the closest relationship with the proficient level NAEP scale and that the standards in North Carolina and California were more rigorous in comparison to Michigan and especially Texas which provided for the lowest rigor with their AYP standard in this study. The findings further show that the Economically Disadvantaged (ED) status variable was the greatest predictor of success as measured by NCLB and AYP. AYP might be doing a better job at measuring ED status vs. actual student achievement. The findings from this research study did not indicate that AYP was a measure of the minority status and racial subgroups as the quantitative datasets were inconsistent with the impact that different subgroups had on state accountability assessment results and AYP between the four sample states.

The findings in this study further indicate that the current accountability provisions in NCLB have not been effective in evaluating school performance. The results from the qualitative data show that there were some benefits of AYP including the increased sense of urgency with data analysis. However, it did not necessarily lead to increased achievement among the schools or the implementation of effective school improvement plans and/or classroom instruction. Finally, this paper concludes with recommended areas of research for policymakers and educators alike who are interested in sustainable reform.