This paper discusses the design and evolution of school accountability in the United States and the body of research on its effects. Accountability systems that articulated meaningful consequences for underperforming schools (e.g., No Child Left Behind) led to meaningful, though not transformational, improvements in student outcomes, particularly among historically marginalized students. However, under the flexibility provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), several states have created school accountability systems that are unlikely to sustain these gains in school performance.
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