Does School Autonomy Make Sense Everywhere? Panel Estimates from PISA

Publication | January 2012

Eric A. Hanushek, Susanne Link, and Ludger Woessmann write that 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. The new panel estimation with country fixed effects identifies the effect of school autonomy from within-country changes in the average share of schools with autonomy over key elements of school operations, based on a panel data set of the four waves of international Programme for International Student Assessment tests spanning 2000-2009 and comprising over 1 million students in 42 countries. The results show that autonomy affects student achievement negatively in developing and low-performing countries, but positively in developed and high-performing countries.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Conceptual Framework
  • International Panel Data
  • Empirical Model
  • Results
  • Adding Accountability and Educational Development
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • References