tags: Principal Turnover

Saturday, November 1, 2014
by Mariah Cone

“Just a 10 percent reduction in principal turnover in high-poverty schools has the potential to affect a single child’s earnings by $30,024.07.”

We at School Leaders Network have known for nearly a decade how important principals are to the culture and learning of a campus.  While it is easy to see that teachers impact students, given their daily face-to-face influence, it is a little less easy for the public to see how principals affect students.  Imagine a student in the 2nd grade has a highly effective teacher that helps the child make one and half years of academic growth in just the 2nd grade.  If that child moves on to several ineffective teachers in subsequent years, those gains are lost by the 4th grade.  It is only the principal who has the position and responsibility to ensure students experience good teaching year after year, throughout their education.

It has been determined that teachers have varying impacts on their students, and these variances influence the amount of learning and achievement of their students.  Research has also found that student achievement levels has direct correlations to lifetime earnings; graduating from high school, college, and graduate school change how much an individual earns.  Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff in 2011 found that one standard deviation increase in teacher effectiveness associates with a 1.3% increase in a child’s lifetime earnings.

During our work on Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover, School Leaders Network wondered, if it is possible to calculate the impact highly effective teachers have on student expected earnings, could we calculate it for the principal?

We used four core bodies of research to define the numbers. 

  1. Chetty, Firedman and Rockoff’s findings
  2. Marzano, et al.’s (2005) meta-analysis of leadership studies which showed that of all school factors, principals are responsible for 25% of the impact on student achievement, while teachers hold 40% of the impact.
  3. Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin’s (2012) findings that more effective principals have increasingly positive correlations to student achievement – particularly notable at high poverty schools.
  4. Beteille, Kalogrides, and Loeb (2011) found that turnover disrupts academic performance in the year following the principal turnover in both math and ELA.

We make several assumptions in our calculations.  Because students hardest hit by principal turnover attend high poverty urban schools, we focus on these students to assess the impact of increasing principal effectiveness and tenure at the school.  See the attached “Calculating the Effect of Principals on Student Earnings” for a complete explication of the math behind the numbers.

According to Martin Luther, “When schools flourish, all flourishes.”  Effective principals are critically important in the equation of good schools.  And good schools produce prepared students who have the necessary skills, drive, and confidence to pursue college and careers.   It is time we make the necessary investments to enable principals to continually grown, improve, and stay longer at their school; thereby ensuring systems of effective practice are in place for all children.


“Education breeds confidence.

Confidence breeds hope.

Hope breeds peace.”


Syndicate content