Principled principals

Given a chance to get rid of probationary teachers (less than five years’ experience) easily, Chicago principals used their power sensibly, writes Brian Jacob in Education Next. Principals were more likely to dismiss teachers with lower ratings in classroom observations, more absenteeism and, at the elementary level, lower value-added scores. Principals kept teachers who’d graduated from highly competitive colleges, but didn’t give weight to performance on the certification exam or advanced degrees.

Probationary teachers who were dismissed from one school and rehired elsewhere were much more likely to be dismissed a second time.

Principals are more likely to dismiss males and older (but probationary) teachers and less likely to dismiss blacks, the study found.

The analysis reported here cannot control for many direct measures of teacher qualities that principals could legitimately consider in making a dismissal decision (e.g., energy, enthusiasm, ability to relate to children, familiarity with the best instructional practices).

Principals are more likely to retain black teachers when the student body is primarily black, the study found.

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