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The Returns to Experience for School Principals

Despite increasing recognition of the importance of high-quality school leadership, we know remarkably little about principal skill development. Using administrative data from Tennessee, Oregon, and New York City, we estimate the returns to principal experience as measured by student outcomes, teacher hiring and retention patterns, and teacher and supervisor ratings of principals. The typical principal leads a school for only 3–5 years and leaves the principalship after 6–7 years. We find little evidence that school performance improves as principals gain experience, despite substantial improvement in supervisor ratings. Our results suggest that strategies intended to increase principal retention are unlikely to improve school outcomes absent more comprehensive efforts to strengthen the link between principal skill development and student and school outcomes.

School leadership, returns to experience, skill development
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Bartanen, Brendan, Aliza N. Husain, David D. Liebowitz, and Laura K. Rogers. (). The Returns to Experience for School Principals. (EdWorkingPaper: 24-978). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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