Management Quality in Public Education: Superintendent Value-Added, Student Outcomes and Mechanisms
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.
We benefited from comments and suggestions by Ema Duccini, Naomi Hausman, Rolant Rathelet, Moshe Shayo, and participants in seminars at the Hebrew University, University of Warwick, University College London, the Madrid January 2017 Education Conference, CESifo Economics of Education Network 2017 Conference, and the 2017 NBER Summer Institute Conference in Personnel Economics. We thank Elior Cohen for providing excellent research assistance during the early stages of this study. The first author acknowledges financial support for this project from the European Research Council through ERC Advance Grant 323439, CAGE at Warwick and the Falk Institute in Jerusalem. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.