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Education Leadership


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FY Awards

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Getting Effective Leaders into High-Needs Schools: A Cross-Site Mixed-Methods Examination of Principal Preparation, Recruitment, and Hiring and Their Associations with Principal and School Outcomes

Year: 2019
Name of Institution:
National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
Goal: Exploration
Principal Investigator:
Gordon, Molly
Award Amount: $1,399,779
Award Period: 3 Years (07/01/2019 - 06/30/2022)
Award Number: R305A190520


Co-Principal Investigators: Lauren Sartain, Jason Grissom, and John Easton

Previous Award Number: R305A190298
Previous Institution: University of Chicago

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the characteristics of leadership pipeline processes that are related to improved student outcomes, particularly in high-needs schools. Effective leadership is key to school performance. However, we know little about the kinds of potential school leaders who are most likely to be effective. Researchers will aim to identify which leadership pipeline processes are most associated with identifying and selecting effective school leaders, placing them equitably, and retaining them in the profession. Researchers will focus on three specific areas of the leadership pipeline as potential mechanisms for improved student outcomes: recruitment of leaders into the system, formal and informal leadership preparation, and the hiring and placement process for school leaders.

Project Activities: Researchers will describe and analyze how school leaders are selected, trained, hired, and placed in schools. They will then use data on students, teachers, leaders and schools to determine the potential relationship between leaders' characteristics, the leadership pipeline process, and student outcomes.

Products: Researchers will produce preliminary evidence of potentially promising principal pipeline processes, and present policy briefs and reports as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Tennessee public schools.

Sample:Participants include all principal candidates and new principals in CPS and the state of Tennessee from 2006-07 to 2017-18. Principal candidates include teachers, assistant principals, and other educators in the two sites who are recruited as potential leaders.

Intervention:Malleable factors include leadership pipeline processes such as leader recruitment, formal and informal leadership preparation, and hiring and placement processes.

Research Design and Methods: This cross-site, mixed-methods study will link three types of data: administrative data on students and educators, data from CPS- and Tennessee-wide surveys of teachers and leaders, and interview and focus group data from school leaders, leadership preparation program staff, and those involved in the principal hiring processes. The quantitative analysis will model leader and school outcomes as a function of various pre-service characteristics and leadership pipeline characteristics using regression-based longitudinal-data techniques that control for other factors affecting these outcomes. Interviews with school and district leaders and other informants will complement the statistical analyses.

Control Condition: Due to the exploratory nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Measures include including student achievement and behavioral outcomes, principal evaluation ratings, teachers' survey ratings of school climate, retention rates of effective teachers, and principal turnover.

Data Analytic Strategy: The analysis will include descriptive analysis, more advanced multivariate methods, and qualitative analysis. The main analyses of early-career job effectiveness will model outcomes, such as evaluation ratings, as a function of leader or pipeline characteristics, time-varying school characteristics, and school fixed effects. Researchers will apply a mixture of inductive and deductive methods to interview and focus group data.