Friday, February 11, 2011

The Good Principal Principle

This looks promising. While it is difficult to build a model for good management, this still strikes me as a simpler problem than modelling effective teaching. For one thing, K through 12 teaching includes a large management component. More importantly, the data on teachers runs into some nasty nesting issues. Things are much cleaner when you go up a level.

Yet each school year thousands of principals beat the odds and do excel, women and men who love their leadership positions, relish the challenges and take pride in running schools that perform well year after year. Who are these people? And what are they doing that so many others aren’t?

“We know that principals matter for a school’s success, but we don’t know much about why and how they matter,” says Jason Grissom, an assistant professor of public affairs in MU’s Truman School of Public Affairs. Grissom and Susanna Loeb, a professor of education at Stanford University, are working to provide answers, thanks in part to a $1 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, the self-described “research arm” of the U.S. Department of Education.

“Our goal at the end of this study is to be able to offer some tangible recommendations for making principals more effective in terms of improving student outcomes,” Grissom says. “We’re excited about the proposal because it’s pretty ambitious. The kind of study we’ve proposed is essentially the first of its kind.”

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