A new study finds that effective principals are not only skilled at keeping high-performing teachers—they also strategically don't retain the low performers. This study investigates strategic retention behaviors with longitudinal data from Tennessee. Using multiple measures of teacher and principal effectiveness, the study finds that indeed more effective principals see lower rates of teacher turnover, on average. Moreover, this lower turnover is concentrated among high-performing teachers. In contrast, turnover rates of the lowest-performing teachers, as measured by classroom observation scores, increase substantially under higher-rated principals. This pattern is more apparent in advantaged schools and schools with stable leadership.
Key findings include:
· Highly rated principals succeed at keeping high-performing teachers while moving out low performers.
· Lower turnover is concentrated among teachers with higher scores on classroom observation measures and higher student test-performance growth scores (also known as value-added scores).
· Notably, highly rated principals appear to focus on just one performance measure—teacher observation scores—to identify low-performing teachers to move out.
· Effective principals likely use informal means, such as “counseling out,” to remove low-performing teachers, rather than relying on administrative procedures. These teachers typically exit teaching rather than move to another school in the same district.
Grissom, J. A., & Bartanen, B. (2018). Strategic retention: Principal effectiveness and teacher turnover in multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems. American Educational Research Journal. https://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0002831218797931
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