Panel Paper: A Study of the Chicago Public Schools Principal Residency Program

Friday, November 9, 2018
8212 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Minh Thac Nguyen1, Steven Rivkin1, Lauren Sartain2 and Jeffrey Schiman3, (1)University of Illinois, Chicago, (2)University of Chicago, (3)Georgia Southern University

A growing emphasis on leadership as the focal point of school improvement has led states, districts and school management organizations to adopt various strategies to elevate the effectiveness of school principals. One set of initiatives focuses directly on improvements in the preparation and skills of incoming principals. These include residency preparation programs involving partnerships between districts and educator training programs where districts pay program participant salaries during the residency year. Importantly, residency programs develop skills of value to all districts, raising questions about the district return to investments in the general skills of principals. From the district perspective, the benefits of investing in residency programs depends primarily upon four factors: the value of the training in terms of higher leadership effectiveness; the number of years that a resident participant remains in a district leadership position; the salary increase demanded by participants, and the return to alternative education expenditures. Even if the training raises principal effectiveness, a district will not realize a substantial return on its investment unless participants become principals and remain in those positions for an extended period at a cost that does not lower the return below that obtained from other uses of the resources. In this paper, we describe the career paths of residency-program participants and compare principals who were program participants with nonparticipants using various performance measures to provide information on program returns. These include estimates of principal value-added to achievement. Note that this is not a program evaluation; we do not divide principals by program, we cannot separate preexisting skill differences from skills gained during the program, and the non-random sorting of students and principals preclude the drawing of strong causal inferences regarding principal quality. Nevertheless, the findings taken provide valuable information for consideration of the returns to these investments in general principal skills.