High-stakes accountability in urban elementary schools: Challenging or reproducing inequality

John B. Diamond*, James P Spillane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1176
Number of pages32
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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