School principals vary widely in quality, but effective principals can influence student achievement in their schools, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
For the study, Gregory F. Branch of the University of Texas, Dallas, Eric A. Hanushek of Stanford University, and Steven G. Rivkin of Amherst College drew on data about 7,429 Texas principals from the Texas Schools Project of the University of Texas at Dallas.
The authors focused on principal transitions in schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students.
Overall, the researchers found wide variation in principal quality, but greater variation among schools with large concentrations of low-income students. Besides being linked to higher-than-average student gains, principals with high “value added” scores also tended to be associated with teacher turnover in the lowest-performing grades in their schools—indicating, perhaps, that they were replacing low-performing teachers with more-effective ones.
A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2012 edition of Education Week as Principal Quality