Press | RAND and Mathematica Studies Find Students in New Leader Schools Outgain Peers

New York, NY –The RAND Corporation released a rigorous, independent long-term program evaluation of New Leaders which found that students attending New Leaders schools attain higher student achievement results than their peers by a statistically significant margin specifically because they have a New Leader principal at the helm.

“Our rigorous analysis of the effect that New Leaders principals have on student outcomes uses state of the art methods. We looked at the outcomes of about 400 principals in traditional public and charter schools across the country – every principal prepared by New Leaders since its inception who was placed as a principal and for whom we had access to data. The results demonstrate that principals who receive high-quality training can positively affect student achievement” said Susan M. Gates, lead author of the study and a senior economist at RAND.

Additionally, an independent program evaluation from Mathematica Policy Research found that on average, New Leaders-led schools in the Bay Area produce an estimated 4 months of additional learning growth in math and 1.5 months of additional learning growth in reading over a three year period. “It is exciting to be able to examine the impacts of a principal training program on student achievement, and to find positive impact results, as this is an area where relatively little research has been done,” said Kevin Booker lead author of the report and senior researcher at Mathematica.

In addition to RAND’s student achievement findings, the firm also found that districts benefited in other ways, including:

  • Higher principal retention: On average, New Leader principals were more likely to stay in their school for three or more years as compared to other newly placed principals.
  • Improved principal selection, management and support: District partners reported that New Leaders provided valuable information on effective management of principals, and influenced the strengthening of their leadership standards, principal selection criteria, principal evaluation, and principal support.

New Leaders partnered with the RAND Corporation to determine the impact a New Leader Principal has on student achievement by controlling for other factors, analyzing ten years of data from 400 leaders impacting 160,000 students in district and charter schools across the country. RAND also evaluated system-wide benefits to districts of partnering with New Leaders.

Early promising results from the RAND Corporation prompted New Leaders to conduct a closer examination of a sample of schools led by New Leader principals. Mathematica was engaged to compare math and reading achievement in Bay Area schools led by New Leaders to other schools in the Oakland Unified School District and California.

“Holding ourselves accountable for student achievement results in schools led by New Leaders has been central to our work since our founding 14 years ago,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders, Inc. “We are particularly proud of these results given the nationwide scope and scale of our programs in district and charter schools across the country. While we continue to focus on getting even better results in preparing all children for success in college, careers and citizenship, we are excited to build off of our track record of success as we scale up our program and impact.”

Few studies have examined the effects of principal training on student achievement; thus, these two studies represent a unique contribution to school leadership research. According to Jody Spiro, Director of Education Leadership at The Wallace Foundation, “New Leaders has developed one of the leading principal preparation programs and this study deepens our understanding of this important work.”

New Leaders will extend the research with the RAND Corporation to include a a thorough analysis of their program to capture recent programmatic innovations in the needed area of teacher leadership development. New Leaders is the recipient of the US Department of Education’s highly competitive Investing in Innovation Grant, which provides funds for the RAND evaluation.