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Highlights

The federal government has invested billions of dollars to improve student academic performance, and many schools, teachers, and researchers are trying to determine the most effective instructional practices with which to accomplish this. The Conference Report for the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 directed GAO to study strategies used to prepare students to meet state academic achievement standards. To do this, GAO answered: (1) What types of instructional practices are schools and teachers most frequently using to help students achieve state academic standards, and do those instructional practices differ by school characteristics? (2) What is known about how standards-based accountability systems have affected instructional practices? (3) What is known about instructional practices that are effective in improving student achievement? GAO analyzed data from a 2006-2007 national survey of principals and 2005-2006 survey of teachers in three states, conducted a literature review of the impact of standards-based accountability systems on instructional practices and of practices that are effective in improving student achievement, and interviewed experts.

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