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Lessons from research on the effect of school autonomy (Policy Brief 316 - January 2013)

Lessons from research on the effect of school autonomy (Policy Brief 316 - January 2013)


Some models of school autonomy seem more promising than others , as we teach international comparisons and analyzes intra-countries (Great Britain, United States and Sweden).

  • Lessons from research on the effect of school autonomy

Since the 1980s, the vast majority of OECD countries have increased the autonomy of their schools, that is to say, the room for maneuver available to them in terms of education, financial management and human resources. This extended battery has generally return more control of the results obtained by the institutions.

France remained relatively behind this movement, institutions benefiting from a limited degree of freedom, especially in terms of recruitment and curricula. However, in this respect, recent developments should be mentioned, with the successive reforms of vocational schools and versatile and the launch of schools and colleges for ambition and success (FLASH).

A number of studies have attempted to assess the impact of empowerment. The analyzes carried out in international comparison suggests that although autonomy has to student success.

In contrast, in countries where schools already have a high level of autonomy (Great Britain, United States and Sweden), it appears that further increase the autonomy brings achievement gains limited existent. The same studies also suggest that in most autonomous institutions, the satisfaction of parents, students and teachers is significantly higher, and students at comparable levels, often continue their studies. Finally, autonomy helps develop structures and innovative educational devices.


  • Automation and empowerment: a double movement nearly universal in OECD
  • Autonomy in France: a limited implementation
  • The evaluation of the effects of autonomy
  • What are the lessons?
  • Authors: Pierre-Yves Cusset and Sarah Sauneron, Social Issues Department .

Keywords: autonomy, school system, performance, PISA, charter school .


Centre d’analyse stratégique