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Does school autonomy improve educational outcomes? Judging the performance of foundation secondary schools in England

  • Rebecca Allen

    ()

    (Depatment of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.)

Government and researchers use school performance measures such as contextual value-added to claim that giving schools autonomy from local authority control produces superior pupil performance in GCSE examinations. This paper explores the extent to which inferring causality between autonomy and pupil achievement is reasonable given that pupils are not randomly assigned to schools and schools do not randomly acquire autonomous status. Rich administrative data and the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England are used to evaluate whether CVA-style inferences are confounded by pupil characteristics that explain both the chances of attending an autonomous school and academic achievement. The assignment of grant-maintained (and thus now foundation) status through a vote of parents is used to compare school that just did, and just did not, gain autonomy over a decade ago. These alternative estimation strategies suggest there is little evidence that foundation status casually yields superior school performance.

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Paper provided by Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London in its series DoQSS Working Papers with number 10-02.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 03 Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1002
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Quantitative Social Science. UCL IOE, 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL
Phone: (44) (0)20 7612 6654. Eliminate (44) and add (0) if calling from inside the UK. Add (44) and eliminate (0) if calling from abroad.
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Web page: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/research/departments/qss/35445.html

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  1. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva, 2008. "Urban density and pupil attainment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20479, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  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. Steve Gibbons & Olmo Silva, 2007. "Urban Density and Pupil Attainment," CEE Discussion Papers 0080, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  4. John DiNardo & David S. Lee, 2004. "Economic Impacts of Unionization on Private Sector Employers: 1984-2001," NBER Working Papers 10598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rebecca Allen, 2007. "Allocating Pupils to Their Nearest Secondary School: The Consequences for Social and Ability Stratification," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(4), pages 751-770, April.
  6. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Stephen Gibbons & Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2008. "Choice, Competition, and Pupil Achievement," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 912-947, 06.
  8. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  9. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
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