In this article, the authors use data from interviews and observations in four urban elementary schools - two high-performing and two probation schools - to examine how schools respond to high-stakes accountability policies. The authors show that school responses to high-stakes accountability depend on the schools' accountability status. In probation schools, responses focus narrowly on complying with policy demands, focusing on improving the performance of certain students, within benchmark grades, and in certain subject areas. In contrast, higher performing schools emphasize enhancing the performance of all students regardless of grade level and across all subject areas. Given the concentration of poor students and students of color in the lowest performing schools, the authors conclude that issues of educational equity need to be given greater consideration in the implementation of high stakes accountability policies.
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