This study uses rich empirical data from Brazil to assess how a government program (PDE) that decentralizes school management decisions changes what goes on in schools and how these changes affect student outcomes. It appears that the PDE resulted in some improvements in management and learning materials, but little change in other areas including evaluation and community relations. However, we find no evidence that schools’ participation in the PDE improved student achievement. The results for grade passing are stronger. Students in PDE schools saw greater increases in grade passing rates than students in non-PDE schools during the period of our study. We also estimate a positive relationship between PDE spending and student gains for those schools in the program, especially for spending on teaching and learning materials and furniture. We find no benefit of electronics spending or spending on teacher training, two of the three largest areas of school investment.