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Does School Autonomy Make Sense Everywhere? Panel Estimates from PISA

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  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Susanne Link
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Decentralization of decision-making is among the most intriguing recent school reforms, in part because countries went in opposite directions over the past decade and because prior evidence is inconclusive. We suggest that autonomy may be conducive to student achievement in well-developed systems but detrimental in low-performing systems. We construct a panel dataset from the four waves of international PISA tests spanning 2000-2009, comprising over one million students in 42 countries. Relying on panel estimation with country fixed effects, we identify the effect of school autonomy from within-country changes in the average share of schools with autonomy over key elements of school operations. Our results show that autonomy affects student achievement negatively in developing and low-performing countries, but positively in developed and high-performing countries. These results are unaffected by a wide variety of robustness and specification tests, providing confidence in the need for nuanced application of reform ideas.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17591.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Publication status: published as Hanushek, Eric A. & Link, Susanne & Woessmann, Ludger, 2013. "Does school autonomy make sense everywhere? Panel estimates from PISA," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 212-232.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17591

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Piopiunik, Marc & Schwerdt, Guido & Woessmann, Ludger, 2013. "Central school exit exams and labor-market outcomes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 93-108.
  2. Matthew P. Steinberg, 2014. "Does Greater Autonomy Improve School Performance? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Analysis in Chicago," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-35, January.
  3. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Nikhil Jha, 2013. "Educational Achievement and the Allocation of School Resources," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2013n27, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  4. VERSCHELDE, Marijn & HINDRIKS, Jean & RAYP, Glenn & SCHOORS, Koen, 2012. "School staff autonomy and educational performance: within school type evidence," CORE Discussion Papers 2012053, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Chapman, Bruce & Lounkaew, Kiatanantha, 2013. "Introduction to the special issue on Economic Research for Education Policy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 200-203.
  6. Anila Channa & Jean-Paul Faguet, 2012. "Decentralization of Health and Education in Developing Countries: A Quality-Adjusted Review of the Empirical Literature," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 038, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. Christoph Helbach, 2012. "The Interplay of Standardized Tests and Incentives – An Econometric Analysis with Data from PISA 2000 and PISA 2009," Ruhr Economic Papers 0356, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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