Free schools or academies improve all schools
We find that an increase in the share of independent-school students improves average performance at the end of compulsory school as well as long-run educational outcomes. We show that these effects are very robust with respect to a number of potential issues, such as grade inflation and pre-reform trends. However, for most outcomes, we do not detect positive and statistically significant effects until approximately a decade after the reform. This is notable, but not surprising given that it took time for independent schools to become more than a marginal phenomenon in Sweden. We do not find positive effects on school expenditures. Hence, the educational performance effects are interpretable as positive effects on school productivity. We further find that the average effects primarily are due to external effects (e.g., school competition), and not that independent-school students gain significantly more than public-school students.
This is similar to the findings of the effect of academy schools in Britain. (This study applies to Labour’s sponsored academies, not the new “converter” academies that have come in since 2010, but the principle of school autonomy is the same and converter schools or chains thereof could become sponsors of new academies in turn.)
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