Sean P. Corcoran, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Meryle Weinstein
In 2003, New York City embarked on a unique experiment to increase its pool of qualified school administrators. Through the creation of the Leadership Academy, the district asserted significantly greater responsibility for training and developing its own school leaders. Today, the Leadership Academy works with hundreds of principals annually and its Aspiring Principals Program (APP) graduates are currently responsible for 15 percent of the city's schools.
This report represents the first systematic comparison of student outcomes in schools led by APP graduates after three years to those in comparable schools led by other new principals. We find that APP principals were placed in schools that are demographically and academically distinct from schools led by other new principals. APP principals were more likely to be placed in schools that were low-performing and trending downward. Controlling for pre-existing differences in these schools, we find that APP schools improved apace with the city in English Language Arts, while comparison schools fell behind the city-wide average. By the third year the differences in these schools' trajectories becomes statistically significant. In math, both groups' scores improved over time, but we find no statistically significant difference in these schools' gains.