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Title page for ETD etd-05232019-112123

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bartanen, Brendan Patrick
URN etd-05232019-112123
Title Essays in Principal Improvement, Quality, and Turnover
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jason A. Grissom Committee Chair
Christopher A. Candelaria Committee Member
Christopher S. Carpenter Committee Member
Robert D. Ballou Committee Member
  • principals
  • labor markets
  • educational leadership
  • education policy
Date of Defense 2019-05-20
Availability restrictsix
Education scholars have long recognized the importance of high-quality leadership for the success of schools. However, our understanding of the labor market for principals remains quite shallow. In particular, there is a lack of rigorous quantitative evidence linking principals to student, teacher, and school outcomes. This dissertation helps to fill this gap by examining three aspects of principal quality, primarily drawing on statewide administrative data from K--12 schools in Tennessee. The first chapter examines the extent to which principals improve as they gain experience. I find substantial returns to experience as measured by both student achievement and ratings from supervisors. The second chapter estimates principal effects on student attendance using a value-added framework. I find that principals' impacts on student attendance are comparable to or larger than their impacts on student achievement. The third chapter estimates the effect of principal turnover on school performance. I find that changing principals lowers student achievement and teacher retention in the years following the transition, but there exists important heterogeneity that appears to be driven the quality of the departing and replacement principals. Collectively, these chapters speak to the importance of effective school leadership and for the need to craft policies that identify high-quality leaders and give them the necessary supports to improve and remain in their schools. Further, these studies highlight the multidimensional nature of principal quality and extend beyond student test scores as the sole measure of school performance.
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