- What is the School Autonomy and Accountability Scale?
- Why the World Bank developed the School Autonomy and Accountability Scale?
- How will the School Autonomy and Accountability Scale be used by countries to improve their assessment policies and systems?
- What products have been developed under the scale?
The School Autonomy and Accountability Scale is a diagnostic tool for classifying and benchmarking school-based management policies aimed at increasing autonomy and accountability at the school and system levels. The scale is based on a set of key indicators of school autonomy and accountability for system benchmarking to monitor performance. The goal of the scale is to promote better conditions for the improvement of learning.
The School Autonomy and Accountability Scale is a key component of SABER (Systems Approach for Better Education Results ), the World Bank’s support program for its new Education Strategy 2020. SABER is an evidence-based program that helps countries systematically examine and strengthen the performance of their education systems.
The indicators developed in the School Autonomy and Accountability Scale can be used to assess the enabling conditions required by an education system to improve system performance for the medium and long term. Moreover, the application of the Scale for benchmarking autonomy and accountability allows countries to map their policies and achievements in comparison with others, and to relate their educational inputs and processes to their education system performance.
The emerging consensus on school performance indicates that school autonomy and accountability are key enabling factors for mobilizing individual incentives to teach and to learn (Barrera, Fasih, and Patrinos, 2009). As pointed out by Bruns, Filmer, and Patrinos (2011), by deepening school autonomy and accountability schools can redefine their incentive structure to create better conditions for learning and teaching. In the process parents become clients of the education system and partners in the management of education at the school level. The net result is a more efficient school where school management is more conducive for improving the quality and dedication of its teachers and, by extension, for increasing student learning.
Autonomy and accountability do not generate incentives in isolation; they are interlinked with the assessment of teachers and learning at the school, and with teacher quality ((Banerjii, et al, 2010). Such interconnection confirms what experienced educators always say: that to improve learning one has to improve all of the critical components of the school system, which is at the core of SABER’s approach.
The role of school assessments in school management is very important, since they allow schools to render accounts to the community and to all education stakeholders and they allow parents and society to ask for accounts.
Clearly, to improve learning outcomes countries first need to analyze their levels of school autonomy, the status of their assessment system, and the accountability of their schools in order to ensure that they have in place the enabling conditions for improved learning. The School Autonomy and Accountability Scale was developed to directly assist countries in the benchmarking of those efforts and help them develop the work plans that would induce maturity in autonomy, assessment and accountability.
Countries can apply the scale by identifying the depth and scope of their programs and policies for school autonomy, learning assessment, and school accountability. These policies are broadly described in the scale and it is up to each country to position itself in the scale. The scale is an assessment tool that relies on indicators to benchmark the levels of school autonomy and accountability. There are five main indicators and each of them has a set of sub-indicators, all of which are assessed and scored. The assessment of autonomy and accountability is based on the depth and scope of policies and programs linked to school-level of control of financial and human resources, the depth and scope of parent and community participation in school management, and on the depth and scope of school assessment and school accountability:
|School-based management indicators of autonomy and accountability|
|1. School autonomy in budget planning and approval, which assesses central-local finance issues, where autonomy means an increasing degree of local control of central fiscal transfers.|
|1A. Does the school director have legal authority to manage its operational budget?|
1B. Does the school director have legal authority to set and manage staff and teacher salaries?
1C. Does the school director have the legal authority to raise other funds in addition to the transfers received from national or sub-national sources?
|2. School autonomy in personnel management, which evaluates the school’s authority to hire and fire personnel and set teacher salaries.|
|2A. Are hiring and firing decisions of teachers managed by the school director?|
2B. Do School Councils (which may include the school director) have legal authority to hire and fire teachers?
2C. Do School Councils have legal authority to hire and fire the school director?
|3. Participation of the School Council in school finance, which assesses the role of School Councils in budget planning and management, operational efficiency and teacher incentives|
|3A. Does the School Council assist the school in the preparation of the school budget?|
3B. Do School Councils have legal authority to approve the school budget?
3C. Is there a manual or set of instructions describing the participation of the School Councils in the preparation of the school budget?
3D. Do School Councils have legal authority to supervise the implementation of the school budget?
3E. If School Councils participate in the preparation and approval of the school budget is this budget used as an input in the general budget prepared by the Ministry of Education?
|4. Assessment of school and student performance, which assesses school policies on the measurement of school performance through teacher evaluations and the evaluation of learning outcomes|
|4A. Do schools perform yearly assessments of school and student performance?|
4B. Are schools assessments used for making administrative or pedagogical decisions aimed at improving school and student performance?
4C. Do schools perform yearly assessments of learning outcomes using standardized tests?
4D. Are schools assessments using standardized tests used for making administrative or pedagogical decisions aimed at improving school and student performance?
4E. Are the results of the assessment of school and student performance made public to parents?
|5. School accountability, which assesses the mechanisms in place to render accounts to parents, local governments, and society at large|
|5A. Is there a manual regulating the use of the results of the yearly assessments of school and student performance by the School Council?|
5B. Is the school assessment of school and student performance part of a national or regional assessment system?
5C. Are the results of the assessments used to compare school performance with schools in similar conditions?
5D. Do School Councils have the legal authority to hire external auditors to perform financial audits at the school?
5E. Is there a manual to guide the School Council in the use of financial audits to evaluate school performance?
The above indicators—and corresponding sub-indicators—are disaggregated further into program and policies designed to produce the indicator outcome. The strength of the indicators is tied to the depth and scope of the programs and policies associated with it, as shown in the sample table below. The degree of indicator strength—Low, Medium, and High—thus reflects what the assessor sees on the ground. For example, for the indicator of school autonomy in the management of school personnel, the indicator 2A checks for the degree of autonomy that the school director has in teacher hiring and firing. At the low level of indicator strength there is no autonomy, while at the high level there is complete autonomy, as described in their respective explanations in each cell.
|Indicator 2: School autonomy in personnel management|
|Indicator 2A||Strength of Indicator|
|Are hiring and firing decisions of teachers managed by the school director?||No. Personnel decisions are managed by collective agreements at the national level||Yes. Personnel decisions are managed by collective agreement but the school director can select teachers. However, firing decisions are regulated by the collective agreement.||Yes. School directors have the legal authority to hire and fire teachers.|
The aggregated scores for all the indicators are used to assess the degree of compliance with full autonomy and full accountability, as shown in the example below:
|Scale for Assessing Autonomy and Accountability|
|Assessment Scale||Total Score for Indicators 1 and 2||Total Score for Indicators 3, 4 and 5|
(policy/program not in place)
(policy/program in progress)
(policy/program meets minimum standard)
The net result of applying the School Assessment and Accountability Scale is a quick but comprehensive review of the enabling conditions for improving learning outcomes. As such, it allows countries to identify where they should make additional efforts in order to improve the depth and scope of programs and policies that can foster autonomy and accountability. Because it covers the different levels of strength of program and policy implementation, the scale can be used as a benchmark that countries can use to track their progress in school autonomy and accountability.
The School Autonomy and Accountability Scale has been used in several countries. As of February 2011 pilot assessments have been done in Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and The Netherlands. By mid-2011 more results are expected from fourteen countries in East Asia and the Pacific. The application of the assessment scale in countries at the top of educational achievement is very useful for the subsequent development of a scale linked to a hierarchy of policies and programs in autonomy, assessment, and accountability applicable to all countries.
The assessment scale includes three main products:
- A classification matrix where each indicator and sub-indicator is described in detail,
- A scoring matrix where the scores for the classification are organized and graphed,
- A questionnaire for the self application of the assessment scale
In addition, there are several documents outlining the conceptualization of the scale and the results of its pilot applications in several countries:
- Arcia, Gustavo, Harry Patrinos, Emilio Porta, and Kevin Macdonald. 2011. “School Autonomy and Accountability.” Human Development Education Network, The World Bank.
- Arcia, Gustavo, Harry Patrinos, Emilio Porta, and Kevin Macdonald, 2011. “School Autonomy and Accountability in Context: Application of Benchmarking Indicators in Selected European Countries.” Human Development Education Network, The World Bank.
- Patrinos, Harry. 2010. “Reforming School Systems for Quality Improvement: How Countries can improve their Results in International Tests.” Human Development Education Network, The World Bank.
- Patrinos, Harry, and Plamen Danchev. 2011. Benchmarking School Autonomy and Accountability in Selected European Countries.” Human Development Education Network, The World Bank.
- Patrinos, Harry, 2011. “Autonomy and Accountability in East Asia.” Human Development Education Network, The World Bank.
- Barrera, Felipe, Tazeen Fasih, and Harry Patrinos, with Lucrecia Santibáñez, 2009. Decentralized Decision-Making in Schools. The theory and evidence on School-based management. Washington DC: The World Bank.
- Bruns, Barbara, Deon Filmer and Harry Anthony Patrinos. 2011. Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability Reforms. Washington DC: The World Bank.
- Banerji, Arup, Wendy Cunningham, Ariel Fiszbein, Elizabeth King, Harry Patrinos, David Robalino, and Jee-Peng Tan. 2010. Stepping Up Skills for More Jobs and Higher Productivity. Washington DC: The World Bank.