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Changing School Autonomy: Academy Schools and their Introduction to England's Education

  • Stephen Machin
  • James Vernoit

In this paper, we study a high profile case - the introduction of academy schools into the English secondary school sector - that has allowed schools to gain more autonomy and flexible governance by changing their school structure. We consider the impact of an academy school conversion on their pupil intake and pupil performance and possible external effects working through changes in the pupil intake and pupil performance of neighbouring schools. These lines of enquiry are considered over the school years 2001-02 to 2008-09. We bypass the selection bias inherent in previous evaluations of academy schools by comparing the outcomes of interest in academy schools to a specific group of comparison schools, namely those state-maintained schools that go on to become academies after our sample period ends. This approach allows us to produce a well-balanced treatment and control group. Our results suggest that moving to a more autonomous school structure through academy conversion generates a significant improvement in the quality of their pupil intake and a significant improvement in pupil performance. We also find significant external effects on the pupil intake and the pupil performance of neighbouring schools. All of these results are strongest for the schools that have been academies for longer and for those who experienced the largest increase in their school autonomy. In essence, the results paint a (relatively) positive picture of the academy schools that were introduced by the Labour government of 1997-2010. The caveat is that such benefits have, at least for the schools we consider, taken a while to materialise.

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File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp123.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0123.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0123
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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  1. Steven Mcintosh, 2006. "Further Analysis of the Returns to Academic and Vocational Qualifications," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(2), pages 225-251, 04.
  2. Damon Clark, 2009. "The Performance and Competitive Effects of School Autonomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(4), pages 745-783, 08.
  3. Jacob M. Markman & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does peer ability affect student achievement?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 527-544.
  4. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2009. "Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem," NBER Working Papers 15473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bettinger, Eric P., 2005. "The effect of charter schools on charter students and public schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 133-147, April.
  6. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2004. "The Effect of School Accountability Systems on the Level and Distribution of Student Achievement," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 406-415, 04/05.
  7. Caroline M. Hoxby & Sonali Murarka, 2009. "Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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