Categories for Quality Leadership

How important is school financing to student success?

January 15, 2020

Does School Spending Matter? The New Literature on an Old Question. The impact of school finances on student achievement has long interested educators. Research conducted before the mid-1990s suggested a link between the available resources provided schools and student outcomes, but much of this research is correlational. Because correlational research cannot imply causation, studies of a more rigorous nature are needed if policymakers are to redesign school financing that predictably maximizes learning for all students, regardless of the parent’s socio-economic status. Recently published studies employing larger data-sets and based on quasi-experimental methods offer a clearer understanding of how schools might be better funded. This paper of American United States school finances finds evidence to support the importance of providing equitable funding across school districts. These results have important policy implications and suggest areas for future research.

Citation: Jackson, C. K. (2018). Does school spending matter? The new literature on an old question (No. w25368). National Bureau of Economic Research.




What are value-added measures? (Wing Institute Original Paper)

January 15, 2020

Overview of Value-Added Research in Education: Reliability, Validity, Efficacy, and Usefulness. Value-added modeling (VAM) is a statistical approach that provides quantitative performance measures for monitoring and evaluating schools and other aspects of the education system. VAM comprises a collection of complex statistical techniques that use standardized test scores to estimate the effects of individual schools or teachers on student performance. Although the VAM approach holds promise, serious technical issues have been raised regarding VAM as a high-stakes instrument in accountability initiatives. The key question remains: Can VAM scores of standardized test scores serve as a proxy for measuring teaching quality? To date, research on the efficacy of VAM is mixed. There is a body of research that supports VAM, but there is also a body of studies suggesting that model estimates are unstable over time and subject to bias and imprecision. A second issue with VAM is the sole use of standardized tests as a measure of student performance. Despite these valid concerns, VAM has been shown to be valuable in performance improvement efforts when used cautiously in combination with other measures of student performance such as end-of-course tests, final grades, and structured classroom observations.

Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2020). Overview of Value-Added Research in Education: Reliability, Validity, Efficacy, and Usefulness. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




What does the latest data tell us about student dropout rates?

January 15, 2020

Trend in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018. This report provides the most recent year of data available for each dropout and completion rate, summarizes long-term trends, and examines the characteristics of high school dropouts and completers. Five rates are presented to provide a broad perspective on high school dropouts and completers in the United States: the event dropout rate, the status dropout rate, the status completion rate, the adjusted cohort graduation rate, and the averaged freshman graduation rate. The report also provides information about individuals who completed an alternative high school credential. 

Citation: McFarland, J., Cui, J., Rathbun, A., and Holmes, J. (2019). Trend in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States:2018. National Center for Education Statistics. NCES 2019-117 US Department of Education.




What makes a great school principal? (Original Wing Institute paper)

January 7, 2020

School Principal Competencies. Research has consistently shown that principals play a critical role in determining the quality of teaching, and in turn, student learning and achievement. Recent meta-analytic reviews suggest that effective principals are highly competent in the following areas: 1) establishing and conveying the school’s vision, goals and expectations by modeling aspirational practices and promoting data use for continuous improvement; 2) building teachers’ professional capacity by providing targeted and job-embedded professional development, protecting instructional time, and selecting educators who are the “right fit” for the school; 3) creating a supportive organization for learning by sharing and distributing leadership, understanding and building on diversity, and strategically acquiring and allocating resources; 4) facilitating a high-quality student learning experience by developing and monitoring curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and creating learning environments that are personalized, safe, and orderly; and 5) connecting with external partners who can support fulfillment of school goals, and building productive and collaborative relationships with families. While these principal competencies are relevant for a range of school contexts, leaders operating in varying school environments (e.g., high/low poverty, urban/rural) must ultimately determine how best to enact them to optimize teaching and learning. 

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, (2020). Principal Competencies. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




What does the research tell us about principal turnover?

December 17, 2019

A Review of the Literature on Principal Turnover. When it comes to variables that impact student achievement, school principals consistently come up second, behind teachers. They play a critical role in supporting teachers and students to ensure a school’s success.   Hiring and maintaining qualified school principals is as important as it is challenging.  Yet, principal turnover remains high, impacting the consistency of services and school improvement efforts. 

This paper examines research on what we know about the causes and impact of principal turnover. The author is interested in answering three questions: how principal turnover is defined and measured, identifying the causes of turnover, and understanding the consequences of high rates of turnover. The review of the literature shows that there are insufficient numbers and quality of studies on this topic. The current knowledge base consists of case studies and correlational research. The fact there is a shortage of experimental research is not surprising given challenges confronted in implementing research on principal turnover. Because of this, the author was unable to conduct a meta-analysis for this paper. It appears that principal turnover is closely related to student achievement and teacher turnover, but the research is not sufficient to make definitive conclusions at this time. Snodgrass concludes the field needs additional quality studies on this topic.

Citation: Snodgrass Rangel, V. (2018). A review of the literature on principal turnover. Review of Educational Research88(1), 87-124.




Are there disparities between the treatment of white students and students of color when addressing disciplinary infractions?

December 16, 2019

Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Research strongly supports the existence of bias in human beings. Discrepancies between how teachers handle behavior management incidents for students of color and white students has been a concern of education researchers for well over a decade. This paper looks at the disproportionality of consequences for disciplinary infractions between these groups of students. The researchers were interested in determining whether students of color would show similar rates of suspensions, office referrals, personal warnings from a teacher, or warnings about their behavior sent home based on ethnicity, as is the case for white students. Wegman’s study finds that African American students are less likely to receive warnings for behavior infractions than white peers, resulting in escalating consequences for students of color. The unequal handling of disciplinary actions reflects a pressing need for schools to address issues of implicit and explicit bias as a means to address this central issue in education.

Citation: Wegmann, K. M., & Smith, B. (2019). Examining racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline in the context of student-reported behavior infractions. Children and Youth Services Review103, 18-27.




What roles are essential for school principals to be successful?

December 5, 2019

The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. This meta-analysis finds a positive relationship between school principals spending time on five commonly assigned roles and student achievement. These principal responsibilities are instructional management, internal relations, organizational management, administration, and external relations. The study finds that a principal cannot focus on a select few of the categories, but must carve out adequate time for each role. The need to be proficient across all leadership categories offers little comfort to U.S. principals who report average work-weeks of 58.6 hours (U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). The paper recommends school principals be provided with additional resources if they are to adequately meet the needs of the students, teachers, and the community. Although these roles differ from the responsibilities researched by Viviane Robinson (goal expectations, strategic resourcing, teaching and curriculum, teacher development, and supportive environment), there does appear to be a significant overlap with those identified in the Liebowitz meta-analysis (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008).

Citation: Liebowitz, D. D., & Porter, L. (2019). The Effect of Principal Behaviors on Student, Teacher, and School Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Review of Educational Research89(5), 785-827.




Teacher Retention Strategies (Wing Institute Original Paper)

October 22, 2019

Teacher turnover is an enormous burden on education systems, both in terms of student achievement and dollars. High turnover necessitates the recruitment of large numbers of novice teachers, whom research shows are less skilled. This situation is exacerbated by a steady exodus of veteran teachers opting to move from challenging assignments in poorer performing schools with higher percentages of lower socio-economic students to preferred assignments more affluent areas. The high rate of turnover destabilizes the system, forcing diversion of valuable resources from ongoing improvements to recruitment, hiring, and training of novice instructors. Teachers seem to be particularly at risk for higher turnover at the beginning of their careers. Nearly half of teachers leave within 5 years of entering the profession. Efforts to improve retention have been inadequate as evidenced by steadily increasing departures from the profession. This tendency toward turnover is even more striking in private schools than in public schools. Turnover represents a major obstacle to long-term stability, diverts valuable resources, and derails many efforts at reform.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R., States, J., & Keyworth, R. (2019). Teacher Retention Strategies Overview. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




Teacher Turnover Impact (Original Wing Institute Paper)

October 7, 2019

Decades of data attest to high rates of teacher turnover. Almost half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. For the past 10 years, turnover has leveled off at a disconcerting 16% per year. High turnover impedes student performance and diverts resources away from efforts to improve schools. It places large numbers of inexperienced, less effective teachers in classrooms, resulting in increased recruiting, hiring, and training budgets. With effective retention, the United States could save a meaningful portion of the $2.2 billion spent annually on replacing teachers. Research shows that increases in teacher turnover consistently correspond with decreases in achievement in core academic subjects. Attrition disproportionately affects schools with the greatest needs, low-achieving and high-poverty schools. Chronic turnover also negatively impacts a school’s culture, increasing student disciplinary problems and principal turnover. It damages collegiality, adding chaos and complexity to schoolwide operations and perpetuating new cycles of turnover. Effective interventions can remediate this situation, but they require administrators’ long-term commitment to improve the learning environment and working conditions.

Citation: Donley, J., Detrich, R, Keyworth, R., & States, J. (2019). Teacher Turnover Impact. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




A look at John Hattie’s latest work

September 27, 2019

Visible Learning Insights. This book by John Hattie and Klaus Zierer is written for teachers, education researchers, and anyone interested in the latest research on the efficacy of education practices. This research offers an overview of 1,400 meta-analyses and continues to build on the work John Hattie began with his book, Visible Learning, published over a decade ago that provided educators with a synthesis of 800 meta-analyses. 

Citation: Hattie, J., & Zierer, K. (2019). Visible Learning Insights. Routledge.