Reposted from Brookings Now:
The authors of a new research report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings find that school superintendents “have very little influence on student achievement collectively compared to all other components of the traditional education system that we measure.”
“Superintendents may well have impacts on factors we have not addressed in our study, such as the financial health of the district, parent and student satisfaction, and how efficiently tax dollars are spent,” the authors conclude. “And to be certain, superintendents occupy one of the American school system’s most complex and demanding positions. But our results make clear that, in general, school district superintendents have very little influence on student achievement in the districts in which they serve. This is true in absolute terms, with only a fraction of one percent of the variance in student achievement accounted for by differences among superintendents. It is also true in relative terms, with teachers/classrooms, schools/ principals, and districts having an impact that is orders of magnitude greater than that associated with superintendents.”
Analyzing student-level data from the states of Florida and North Carolina for the school years 2000-01 to 2009-10, the authors find that:
- School district superintendent is largely a short-term job. The typical superintendent has been in the job for three to four years.
- Student achievement does not improve with longevity of superintendent service within their districts.
- Hiring a new superintendent is not associated with higher student achievement.
- Superintendents account for a very small fraction (0.3 percent) of student differences in achievement. This effect, while statistically significant, is orders of magnitude smaller than that associated with any other major component of the education system, including: measured and unmeasured student characteristics; teachers; schools; and districts.
- Individual superintendents who have an exceptional impact on student achievement cannot be reliably identified.