Class Year




Document Type


Distinguished Thesis


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program


First Advisor

Kent Grote

Second Advisor

Dawn-Abt Perkins

Third Advisor

Michael T. Hartney

Fourth Advisor

Robert Lemke


With the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has come a wave of economic analyses of education production functions attempting to explain what factors affect pass rates and achievement gaps. Recent legislation has also increased its emphasis on yearly growth in pass rates. This paper will examine the extent to which school and community characteristics affect growth in student performance in several academic subjects and grades. Using standardized test data from the Illinois State Board of Education over the period of No Child Left Behind, I argue that there are ways to empirically re-define growth and student success that more effectively capture NCLB’s accountability goals. The results show that there are inherent differences between the growth definitions employed in this paper, and between the grades analyzed – specifically, several community characteristics have reversed effects in grade 11 from in grades 3 and 8.