School leader programme shows positive effects

This report from the RAND Corporation presents findings from a formative and summative evaluation of New Leaders, a programme that recruits and trains head teachers to serve in urban schools in the US. The study took place from 2006 to 2013 and examined the programme’s implementation and effects in ten districts.

The study used an approach that isolated the effect of New Leaders head teachers themselves from other conditions in the districts that might also influence student performance. Data sources included analysis of student-achievement data for students led by New Leaders head teachers and comparable students in other schools, head teacher surveys, analysis of survey data linked to student-achievement data, analysis of head teacher tenure data, and nested case studies of first-year head teachers.

Researchers found that at the primary school level, spending at least three years in a school with a New Leaders-trained head teacher resulted in achievement gains of 0.7 to 1.3 percentile points. At the secondary school level, students in schools where the New Leaders head teachers had three or more years of experience saw gains in reading achievement of about 3 percentile points.

The authors note that the magnitudes of achievement effects varied substantially across districts, and they also varied across head teachers. Possible explanations for this included, for example, district-wide changes that give advantages to all head teachers, not just New Leaders head teachers.

Source: Preparing Principals to Raise Student Achievement: Implementation and Effects of the New Leaders Program in Ten Districts (2014), RAND Corportation.

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