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Maybe principals should have more power



So maybe instead of crazy contortions over teacher evaluations and student test scores, maybe schools should let principals have more say over which teachers to hire and fire. An analysis of teacher dismissals in Chicago public schools, featured in the latest edition of Education Next, suggests that might not be a bad idea.

in 2004, principals in Chicago got more firing power through a collective bargaining agreement. The result, according to University of Michigan researcher Brian A. Jacob, is that more often than not, they purged the weak links:

"I find that principals in Chicago do exercise their authority in sensible ways," Jacob writes. "Principals are more likely to dismiss teachers who are frequently absent and who have previously received poor evaluations. They dismiss elementary school teachers who are less effective in raising student achievement. Principals are also less likely to dismiss teachers who attended competitive undergraduate colleges. It is interesting to note that dismissed teachers who were subsequently hired by a different school are much more likely than other first-year teachers in their new school to be dismissed again."

Jacob, though, concludes with a twist:

"These results suggest that reforms along the lines of the Chicago policy could improve student achievement by providing principals with the tools to manage the quality of personnel in their classrooms. It should be noted, however, that many principals—including those in some of the worst-performing schools in the district—did not dismiss any teachers despite the new policy. The apparent reluctance of some Chicago principals to utilize the additional flexibility granted under the new contract may indicate that issues such as teacher supply and/or social norms governing employment relations are more important factors than policymakers have realized."

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 6:33pm]


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