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Decentralized Governance and the Quality of School Leadership

Author

Listed:
  • Derek Laing
  • Steven G. Rivkin
  • Jeffrey C. Schiman
  • Jason Ward

Abstract

In response to widespread dissatisfaction with the schools, the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act decentralized school governance by forming elected local school councils (LSCs) responsible for principal hiring, evaluation, and contract renewal as well as other management functions. Subsequent legislation outlined circumstances in which the district could reclaim authority from the LSC, thereby limiting local control. This paper investigates the distribution of principal effectiveness under a system in which there is uncertainty over the locus of decision-making authority. We first establish the presence of significant variation in principal effectiveness based on both an analysis of variance approach and the estimation of principal fixed effects. Teacher survey responses support the findings based on the principal fixed effects, though the much smaller magnitude of the analysis of variance estimates suggest that unobserved shocks inflate many existing estimates of the variance in principal effectiveness. We next consider potential differences in LSC behavior that contribute to the variation. Following Aghion and Tirole (1997) we develop a model that highlights the tensions between formal and real authority and incorporates potential differences in LSC capacity and incentives to maximize school quality. Using proxies for managerial capacity and incentives we find evidence largely consistent with the theory, showing that LSCs with higher management capacity and stronger incentives to raise school quality experience larger gains in principal effectiveness following the end of contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Derek Laing & Steven G. Rivkin & Jeffrey C. Schiman & Jason Ward, 2016. "Decentralized Governance and the Quality of School Leadership," NBER Working Papers 22061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22061
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jesse Rothstein, 2010. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 175-214.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Managing with Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1169-1208.
    3. Miller, Ashley, 2013. "Principal turnover and student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 60-72.
    4. Coelli, Michael & Green, David A., 2012. "Leadership effects: school principals and student outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 92-109.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shi, Ying & Singleton, John D., 2019. "Expertise and Independence on Governing Boards: Evidence from School Districts," IZA Discussion Papers 12414, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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