Research output

The scope of school autonomy in practice: An empirically based classification of school interventions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Associated researcher

  • Neeleman, A.

Associated organisations


In many countries, education systems are moving towards a combination of increased school autonomy and intensified accountability. In the wake of that shift, decision-making at the school level has become paramount, and the role of the school leader has gained in importance. Despite these trends, surprisingly little is known about how schools and school leaders use school autonomy in practice. To study the use of school autonomy in practice internationally, and, subsequently, its impact on outcomes, a classification is needed to capture the full range of school interventions. An extensive literature review revealed that existing classifications are inadequate for these purposes. This article presents the mixed-methods construction and validation of an empirically based classification of school interventions that allows for the identification, analysis, and comparison of the actual use of school autonomy. To capture the range of school autonomy in practice, a school intervention was broadly defined as a planned action intended to cause change in the school. That definition was not confined to innovative interventions and did not rule out any school decision-making areas. An open-response questionnaire was employed for the same purpose. Because of the high level of school autonomy in the Dutch education system, the study was carried out among secondary-education school leaders in the Netherlands. School leaders with the ultimate process responsibility for their school were regarded as decision-making executives at the school level. To ensure the face and content validation of the classification, school-level decision-making representatives were actively involved at all stages of the process.

    Research areas

  • School autonomy, School interventions, Decision-making, Classification, School change, School leaders, PRINCIPALS TIME USE, EDUCATIONAL-EFFECTIVENESS, STUDENT OUTCOMES, LEADERSHIP, IMPROVEMENT, STATE, IMPACT, ACHIEVEMENT, CHARTER, MODELS
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31–55
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Educational Change
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019