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Does School Autonomy Make Sense Everywhere? Panel Estimates from PISA

  • Hanushek, Eric A.

    (Stanford University)

  • Link, Susanne

    (University of Munich)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    (University of Munich)

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 Asian Development Bank in its series ADB Economics Working Paper Series with number 296.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 31 Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:adbewp:0296
Note: http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/economics-wp-296.pdf
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  2. Bishop, John H. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2004. "Institutional effects in a simple model of educational production," Munich Reprints in Economics 20279, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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