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School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva
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School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement - Dr Olmo Silva

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  • 1. School Structures, School Autonomy and Pupil Achievement Dr. Olmo Silva (London School of Economics) Challenge Partners 2013 Conference Islington – July 2013
  • 2. Introduction and context  The idea that alternative school structures and autonomy can improve standards is popular  US Charter schools, Swedish free schools and UK academies  Intuition: more autonomy + more choice + more rigorous assessment = better pupil achievement  Often claimed that poor achievers – i.e. pupils in the ‘tail’ – benefit the most  Is it always true? Under which conditions? And what is the evidence?
  • 3. Autonomy and alternative structures: Why should they work?  Autonomy + quasi-market incentives can spur teaching innovation and address low standards  What are the main ‘ingredients’ of models of education centred on autonomy and school choice?  Accountability lies at the heart of these modes of schooling provision  Standardised tests allow parents/policy makers to identify good and bad schools, impose sanctions and targets, etc.  In short: scope is to gather/spread information about achievements + monitor of progress and teaching performance
  • 4. Accountability: Does it work alone?  Accountability may provide sufficient incentives to improve performance  ‘Name-and-shame’ mechanisms or targeted interventions addressing problems identified by gathered information  However, accountability produce most of its effect when coupled with mechanisms that: (1) Increase parental choice (2) Grant schools some autonomy to restructure their governance and respond to the competitive pressures introduced by parental choice
  • 5. Choice and autonomy: Boosting performance  Why should school choice and autonomy spur better educational standards? (1) Better matching of pupil needs and school provision. Schools need autonomy to differentiate (2) Market discipline incentives: choice triggers competition. Need autonomy to respond to threat  Some assumptions underlying this system: (1) Schools signal overall quality via performance tables and this drives enrolment patterns (2) Resources follow pupils: pupils are valuable assets and funding is linked to schools’ attractiveness
  • 6. Quasi-market in education: Assumptions and concerns  Assumptions underlying the system, continued... (3) Schools granted flexibility to experiment with teaching and specialise to for specific needs/tastes (4) Schools given autonomy to manage teaching body to improve motivation and to use personnel practices to facilitate hiring and retaining of talented instructors (5) Good schools allowed to expand to accommodate extra demand and new schools should be allowed in the market. Bad schools should ‘go out of business’  Main concerns: ‘going down-market’; ‘cream- skimming’; ‘gaming’; and ‘teaching to the test’
  • 7. Alternative and autonomous structures in England: The case of academies  Secondary schools in England fall into a number of categories:  Community, voluntary controlled, foundation, voluntary aided, city technology colleges, and academy schools  These differ in terms of governance, management of teaching staff and control over admissions  Will focus on academies as example of autonomy and ‘alternative’ structures  ‘Labour’ academies, introduced in 2002, up to 2009. Approximately 130 academies or 4.5% of schools
  • 8. The structure of academies  Academies enjoy larger degree of autonomy than any other school type in the state system  Broadly outside control of LA in terms of key strategic decisions and day-to-day management  Managed by a private, independent sponsor through a largely self-appointed board of governors  This body has responsibility for hiring, pay, career development, discipline and performance management  Some academies enjoy more autonomy in terms of taught curriculum and structure/length of the school day  Academies can select up to 10% of their pupils with a clear aptitude in the academy’s chosen specialism  Contrast with community schools – mostly under control of LA
  • 9. Alternative structures and autonomy: What evidence that they work?  General evidence on the effect of accountability and parental choice – mixed findings  Levacic (2004), Bradley et al. (2000) and recently Burgess et al. (2010) on abolition of performance tables in Wales  Evidence on the effects of alternative and autonomous arrangements – mixed results  Clark (2009) positive; Gibbons and Silva (2011) no effects  Evidence on the effects of school competition – mixed/positive and heterogeneous results  Gibbons et al. (2007) and Gibbons and Silva (2008)
  • 10. Alternative structures and autonomy: What side effects?  ‘Gaming the system’ – some evidence, but scant  Burgess et al. (2005): accountability divert attention away from low ability pupils  ‘Cream-skimming’ – evidence of stratification  Bradley and Taylor (2002), Goldstein and Noden (2003), Burgess et al. (2004) and Gibbons and Silva (2006)  ‘Teaching-to-the-test’ – very hard to verify with available data, but is this always bad?  Lazear (2006): might be more ‘efficient’ when there are many low achievers in the class
  • 11. What evidence that academies work?  When thinking about impact of school autonomy, academies are the most pertinent example  At present very limited evidence on this relatively recent ‘policy experiment’  Early studies contrasting findings: Machin and Wilson (2008) vs. PWC (2008)  Recent study more encouraging: Machin and Vernoit (2011)  Side effects: academies are more ‘exclusive’ – not inclusive (Wilson, 2011)
  • 12. Distributional effects of academies – Part I Source: Machin and Silva (2013)
  • 13. Distributional effects of academies – Part II Source: Machin and Silva (2013)
  • 14. What does this mean? A graphical answer Source: Machin and Silva (2013)
  • 15. Lessons from other countries: US charters schools  Charter schools: institutions similar to academies with significant autonomy  Spread across many US states since introduction in 1990s  Best evidence based on randomised admissions (lotteries) to over-subscribed schools  Abdulkadiroglu et al. (2009), Hoxby and Murarka (2009), Dobbie and Fryer (2009) [HCZ] and Angrist et al. (2010) [KIPP]  Positive effects, stronger for low achievers and persisting in long-run (for both Maths and English)  Difficult to assess effects on intake composition – i.e. ‘cream-skimming’
  • 16. Lessons from other countries: Swedish free schools  Swedish free schools: private schools competing with public institutions for students and funding  Privately managed with significant autonomy in terms of their day-to-day activities and long-term choices  Introduced in 1992 to create quasi-market in education  Mixed evidence on their effectiveness  Ahlin (2003), Björklund et al. (2005), and Sandström and Bergström (2005) – general analysis of the 1992 reform  Bohlmark and Lindahl (2007) show that autonomous free schools improve standards, though effect is small  Some evidence of ‘cream-skimming’
  • 17. Why are US charter schools more effective?  Charters are very effective – especially at educating weak pupils in ‘the tail’. Why?  Defining features of these institutions is that they operate on the basis of a ‘charter’  Performance contract granted for 3/5 years, defining mission and goals and type of students it aims to attract  Schools held accountable to their sponsor: if stated aims not achieved, charter revoked and school is closed  As of 2012, approximately 15% of all charter schools closed because they failed to achieve their goals.  This set-up generates sharp incentives for these schools to ‘perform’ and achieve their contractual aims
  • 18. Concluding remarks on academies and autonomy  What is ‘wrong’ with academies? Accountability system does not trigger right incentives  Performance tables same for all schools + focus on final attainments – e.g. proportion achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs  This distorts incentives: ‘coaching’ students likely to perform well in the national exams to maximise ratings  Should focus on measures of educational progression – such as value-added – to really improve standards  For academies and autonomy to work we must provide the right incentives  Need new ‘rules of the game’ (and pupil premium?)
  • 19. Thank you!

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