Management Quality in Public Education: Superintendent Value-Added, Student Outcomes and Mechanisms

Victor Lavy, Adi Boiko

NBER Working Paper No. 24028
Issued in November 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Development Economics, Economics of Education

We present evidence about the ways that school superintendents add value in Israel’s primary and middle schools. Superintendents are the CEOs of a cluster of schools with powers to affect the quality of schooling, and we extend the approach used in recent literature to measure teachers’ value added, to assess school superintendents. We exploit a quasi-random matching of superintendent and schools, and estimate that superintendent value added has positive and significant effects on primary and middle school students’ test scores in math, Hebrew, and English. One standard deviation improvement in superintendent value added increases test scores by about 0.04 of a standard deviation in the test score distribution. The effect doesn’t vary with students’ socio-economic background, is highly non-linear, increases sharply for superintendents in the highest-quartile of the value added distribution, and is larger for female superintendents. We explore several mechanisms for these effects and find that superintendents with higher value added are associated with more focused school priorities and more clearly defined working procedures, but no effect on school resources and no effect on total teachers’ on the job and external training, although there is a significant effect on the composition of the former. Another important effect is that schools with higher quality superintendents are more likely to address school climate, violence and bullying, and implement related interventions which lead to lower violence in school. A new superintendent is also associated with a higher likelihood that the school principal is replaced.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24028

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