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School Accountability, Autonomy, Choice, and the Level of Student Achievement: International Evidence from PISA 2003


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  • Ludger Wöbmann
  • Elke Lüdemann
  • Gabriela Schütz
  • Martin R. West


Accountability, autonomy, and choice play a leading role in recent school reforms in many countries. This report provides new evidence on whether students perform better in school systems that have such institutional measures in place. We implement an internationally comparative approach within a rigorous micro-econometric framework that accounts for the influences of a large set of student, family, school, and country characteristics. The student-level data used in the analysis comes from the PISA 2003 international student achievement test that encompasses up to 265,000 students from 37 countries. Our results reveal that different facets of accountability, autonomy, and choice are strongly associated with the level of student achievement across countries. With respect to accountability, students perform better where policies are in place that aim at students (external exit exams), teachers (monitoring of lessons), and schools (assessment-based comparisons). The combined achievement differences amount to more than one and a half PISA grade-level equivalents. Students in schools with hiring autonomy perform better on average, while they perform worse in schools with autonomy in formulating their budget. School autonomy over the budget, salaries, and course contents appears to be more beneficial when external exit exams hold schools accountable for their decisions. La responsabilité, l'autonomie et le choix sont au coeur des réformes récentes des systèmes scolaires de nombreux pays. Ce rapport apporte de nouveaux éléments sur la question de savoir si les élèves réussissent mieux dans des systèmes scolaires qui ont adopté ces mesures. Une analyse comparative à l'échelle internationale est menée dans un cadre micro-économétrique rigoureux qui tient compte des incidences d'un large éventail de paramètres liés à l'élève, au milieu familial, à l'établissement et au pays. Les données relatives aux élèves utilisées pour l'analyse sont tirées du test international de niveau des élèves de l'enquête PISA 2003, qui porte sur 265 000 élèves de 37 pays. Les résultats montrent que différentes facettes de la responsabilité, de l'autonomie et du choix sont étroitement associées au degré de réussite des élèves dans l'ensemble des pays. S'agissant de la responsabilité, les élèves réussissent mieux lorsqu'il existe des mesures concernant les élèves (examens de sortie externes), les enseignants (suivi des leçons) et les établissements scolaires (comparaisons fondées sur des évaluations). Les écarts de niveau combinés vont jusqu'à l'équivalent PISA de plus d'une année et demi d'études. Les élèves inscrits dans des établissements ayant la possibilité de recruter librement leurs enseignants réussissent mieux en moyenne, alors qu'ils réussissent moins bien dans les établissements libres d'établir leur budget. L'autonomie des établissements scolaires en matière de budget, de salaires et de contenu des programmes semble plus bénéfique lorsqu'ont été mis en place des examens de sortie externes qui rendent les établissements comptables de leurs décisions...

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Education Working Papers with number 13.

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Date of creation: 21 Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:13-en

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  1. Legea educatiei - cateva comentarii (I)
    by Alina Botezat in alina botezat blog on 2010-04-22 13:32:00
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Cited by:
  1. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "Western Europe's Growth Prospects: an Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 8827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. LEE SunYoun & OHTAKE Fumio, 2014. "The Effects of Personality Traits and Behavioral Characteristics on Schooling, Earnings, and Career Promotion," Discussion papers 14023, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  3. Nicholas Crafts & Marco Magnani, 2011. "The Golden Age and the Second Globalization in Italy," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 17, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  4. VERSCHELDE, Marijn & HINDRIKS, Jean & RAYP, Glenn & SCHOORS, Koen, 2012. "School staff autonomy and educational performance: within school type evidence," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2012053, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. HINDRIKS, Jean & VERSCHELDE, Marijn & RAYP, Glenn & SCHOORS, Koen, 2010. "School autonomy and educational performance: within-country evidence," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2010082, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Nicholas Crafts, 2013. "Long-Term Growth in Europe: What Difference does the Crisis Make?," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 224(1), pages R14-R28, May.


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