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Stepping Stones: Principal Career Paths and School Outcomes

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  • Tara Béteille
  • Demetra Kalogrides
  • Susanna Loeb

Abstract

More than one out of every five principals leaves their school each year. In some cases, these career changes are driven by the choices of district leadership. In other cases, principals initiate the move, often demonstrating preferences to work in schools with higher achieving students from more advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Principals often use schools with many poor or low-achieving students as stepping stones to what they view as more desirable assignments. We use longitudinal data from one large urban school district to study the relationship between principal turnover and school outcomes. We find that principal turnover is, on average, detrimental to school performance. Frequent turnover of school leadership results in lower teacher retention and lower student achievement gains. Leadership changes are particularly harmful for high poverty schools, low-achieving schools, and schools with many inexperienced teachers. These schools not only suffer from high rates of principal turnover but are also unable to attract experienced successors. The negative effect of leadership changes can be mitigated when vacancies are filled by individuals with prior experience leading other schools. However, the majority of new principals in high poverty and low-performing schools lack prior leadership experience and leave when more attractive positions become available in other schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Tara Béteille & Demetra Kalogrides & Susanna Loeb, 2011. "Stepping Stones: Principal Career Paths and School Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 17243, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17243
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Gates, Susan M. & Ringel, Jeanne S. & Santibanez, Lucrecia & Guarino, Cassandra & Ghosh-Dastidar, Bonnie & Brown, Abigail, 2006. "Mobility and turnover among school principals," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 289-302, June.
    7. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measurement in Education," NBER Working Papers 11463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ballou, Dale & Podgursky, Michael, 1995. "What makes a good principal? How teachers assess the performance of principals," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 243-252, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ignacio Tavares De Araujo Junior & Alessio Tony C. Almeida & Hilton M. B. Ramalho, 2018. "Managerial Effort Under Asymmetric Information: The Case Of Public Schools In Brazil," Anais do XLIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 44th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 127, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. Larissa Da Silva Marioni & Ricardo Da Silva Freguglia & Ana Beatriz Monteiro Costa, 2016. "Impacts Of School Management On Educational Development: A Longitudinal Analysis From The Teacher’S Perspective," Anais do XLII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 42ndd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 217, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    3. Joshua Furgeson & Virginia Knechtel & Margaret Sullivan & Christina Clark Tuttle & Lauren Akers & Mary Anne Anderson & Michael Barna & Ira Nichols-Barrer, 2014. "KIPP Leadership Practices through 2010-2011," Mathematica Policy Research Reports be3018c6fc0348539f4b27334, Mathematica Policy Research.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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