Incentivising excellence: school choice and education quality

Education reforms must go further

Incentivising Excellence considers the conditions that need to prevail for school choice to fulfil its promise in relation to improving educational outcomes. It contends that without attention to system design and supporting reforms geared to fundamentally altering the incentive structure in education, there is little reason to suggest that choice will generate significant gains.

The book provides a comprehensive evaluation of the research regarding the effects of school choice – encompassing cross-national studies, in-depth discussions of national choice programmes in Sweden, Chile, the Netherlands, Denmark, and England, as well as smaller-scale programmes elsewhere – and exposes the flaws in design that have undermined its effectiveness as a mechanism for improving education quality. Despite numerous efforts to introduce school choice, most attempts have been half-hearted, making it unsurprising that many of the reforms have not induced more than relatively small improvements. The key lesson is that school choice should not be seen as an isolated reform measure but rather as a cornerstone in a coherent reform package designed to transform the incentive structure in education.

The book goes on to consider lessons for policymakers and in particular the reforms necessary to bring about a functioning education market.