EXECUTIVE SUMMARY — There are major disparities in the quality of education within and across countries. School managerial practices may be one important reason for such differences, but research in this area has traditionally been held back by a lack of robust and comparable instruments to systematically measure management practices. In this paper the authors develop a novel and internationally comparable index of management quality for schools, and apply this methodology to measure management practices across 1,800 private and public schools across eight developed and developing economies. Three key findings emerged. First, the adoption of basic managerial practices varies significantly across and within countries. The United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada and the US obtain the highest average scores, followed by Germany, Italy and Brazil, while India has the lowest scores. Second, higher management scores are positively correlated with better pupil outcomes. Third, they show that that—similar to the private sector—different types of school governance are associated with systematically different levels of management adoption. Key concepts include:
Management practices vary significantly across and within countries and are strongly linked to pupil outcomes.
Among autonomous government schools, two key features account for a large fraction of the superior management performance of such schools: 1) having strong accountability of principals to an external governing body and 2) exercising strong leadership through a coherent long-term strategy for the school.
Improving management could raise school standards and could give broad support for the fostering of greater autonomy of government schools.
Autonomy by itself is unlikely to deliver better results. However, finding ways to improve governance and motivate principals could make sure that decentralized power leads to better standards.