The effects of head teachers on attendance rates

While many studies examine the effects of head teachers on pupil achievement, a recent study examined the effects of head teachers on pupil absenteeism. Brendan Bartanen of Texas A&M reviewed the statewide data in Tennessee between 2006-07 and 2016-17, correlating 3,800 head teachers in 1,700 schools to pupil attendance and achievement data. He describes how he translates this data into a “value added” determination of head teachers’ effects, meaning using a system to determine which head teachers add value to their school community.

Results showed that replacing a head teacher who had a poor value-added rate (25%) with a head teacher who had a higher value-added rate (75%) reduced absences of pupils who were chronically truant by 4 percentage points, and of pupils overall by .08 percentage points. He also found that the head teachers whose schools showed the greatest increases in attendance were not necessarily the ones whose pupils demonstrated the greatest gains in test scores.

Source: Principal quality and student attendance (March 2020), Educational Researcher, Volume 49 Issue 2

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