Professional Development Report Roundup

Study Links Principal Training to Gains

By Denisa R. Superville — May 20, 2014 1 min read
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Students who attended schools led by New Leaders-trained principals had slightly higher achievement scores than similar students in schools headed by principals who were not in the program, according to a RAND Corp. analysis of the New Leaders Aspiring Principals program.

The study, which looks at seven years of data from 10 districts in which New Leaders’ principals were placed, found that in the lower grades (K-8), the typical student in a school with a New Leaders-trained principal saw gains on state assessments that were 0.7 percentile points higher in reading and 1.3 percentile points higher in math than those of students in schools without those principals.

In high schools where New Leaders’ principals had served for at least three years, the gains were about 3 percentile points in reading for a typical student, but were not statistically significant in mathematics.

The student-outcome results differed from district to district. In Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee; Prince George’s County, Md.; and New Orleans, researchers saw statistically negative results in at least one subject area in the lower grades in schools where New Leaders’ principals had been in place for less than three years. And in New York City and Chicago, the effects were small and statistically insignificant. Both districts had principal-preparation programs in place that were similar to the Aspiring Principal Program, which may explain the results in those cities, according to the report.

Still, it concludes that the program has the potential to improve student achievement and that “effective principals positively affect student achievement despite the fact that principals do not necessarily interact with students on a daily basis.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 21, 2014 edition of Education Week as Study Links Principal Training to Gains

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