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How Important are School Principals in the Production of Student Achievement?

  • Dhuey, Elizabeth
  • Smith, Justin

As school leaders, principals can influence student achievement in a number of ways, such as: hiring and firing teachers, monitoring instruction, and maintaining student discipline, among others. We measure the effect of individual principals on gains in student math and reading achievement between grades four and seven. We estimate that a one standard deviation improvement in principal quality can boost student performance by approximately 0.2 standard deviations in both math and reading. We also show that principal experience does not exert a significant influence on student performance. Our results imply that isolating the most effective principals and allocating them accordingly between schools can have a significant positive effect on reducing achievement gaps.

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File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%2090%20-%20Dhuey%20and%20Smith.pdf
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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2011-33.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 22 Dec 2011
Date of revision: 23 Dec 2011
Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2011-33
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/

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  1. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measurement in Education," NBER Working Papers 11463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Buddin, Richard & Zamarro, Gema, 2009. "Teacher qualifications and student achievement in urban elementary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 103-115, September.
  3. Sass, Tim R. & Semykina, Anastasia & Harris, Douglas N., 2014. "Value-added models and the measurement of teacher productivity," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 9-23.
  4. Michael B. Coelli & David A. Green & William P. Warburton, 2004. "Breaking the cycle? The effect of education on welfare receipt among children of welfare recipients," IFS Working Papers W04/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Philip DeCicca & Justin D. Smith, 2011. "The Long-Run Impacts of Early Childhood Education: Evidence From a Failed Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Coelli, Michael & Green, David A., 2012. "Leadership effects: school principals and student outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 92-109.
  8. Kata Mihaly & Daniel F. McCaffrey & J. R. Lockwood & Tim R. Sass, 2010. "Centering and reference groups for estimates of fixed effects: Modifications to felsdvreg," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(1), pages 82-103, March.
  9. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
  10. Brian A. Jacob, 2010. "Do Principals Fire the Worst Teachers?," NBER Working Papers 15715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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