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


  • Ludger Wöbmann

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research, University of Munich)

  • Elke Lüdemann

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research, University of Munich)

  • Gabriela Schütz

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research, University of Munich)

  • Martin R. West

    (Brown university, Providence,RI.)


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...

Suggested Citation

  • Ludger Wöbmann & Elke Lüdemann & Gabriela Schütz & Martin R. West, 2007. "School Accountability, Autonomy, Choice, and the Level of Student Achievement: International Evidence from PISA 2003," OECD Education Working Papers 13, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:13-en

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Legea educatiei - cateva comentarii (I)
      by Alina Botezat in alina botezat blog on 2010-04-22 18:32:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Richard B. Freeman & Martina Viarengo, 2014. "School and family effects on educational outcomes across countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 29(79), pages 395-446, July.
    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. Victor Lavy & Adi Boiko, 2017. "Management Quality in Public Education: Superintendent Value-Added, Student Outcomes and Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 24028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nicholas Crafts, 2013. "Returning to Growth: Policy Lessons from History," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34(2), pages 255-282, June.
    5. repec:exl:22evid:v:2015:y:2015:i:1:p:1-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Marina Murat & Patrizio Frederic, 2015. "Institutions, culture and background: the school performance of immigrant students," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 612-630, October.
    7. Sun Youn Lee & Fumio Ohtake, 2016. "Is Being Agreeable a Key to the Success or Failure in the Labor Market?," ISER Discussion Paper 0960, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    8. Marijn Verschelde & Jean Hindriks & Glenn Rayp & Koen Schoors, 2015. "School Staff Autonomy and Educational Performance: Within‐School‐Type Evidence," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 36, pages 127-155, June.
    9. 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 14-28, May.
    10. Ahn, Tom, 2014. "A regression discontinuity analysis of graduation standards and their impact on students’ academic trajectories," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 64-75.
    11. 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.
    12. Ángela Rocío López Sánchez & Andrés Felipe Virgüez Clavijo & Jaime Andrés Sarmiento Espinel & Adriana Carolina Silva Arias, 2015. "El efecto de la gerencia privada de escuelas públicas en el desempeño estudiantil en la educación media en Colombia," REVISTA ECOS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT, vol. 19(41), pages 108-136, December.
    13. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "Western Europe's Growth Prospects: an Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 8827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Stefanie Dufaux, 2012. "Assessment for Qualification and Certification in Upper Secondary Education: A Review of Country Practices and Research Evidence," OECD Education Working Papers 83, OECD Publishing.
    15. HINDRIKS, Jean & VERSCHELDE, Marijn & RAYP, Glenn & SCHOORS, Koen, 2010. "School autonomy and educational performance: within-country evidence," CORE Discussion Papers 2010082, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

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