RAND’s Evaluation of the New Leaders Program
New Leaders is dedicated to promoting student achievement by developing outstanding school leaders to serve in urban schools. In support of this objective, New Leaders developed a model, or “theory of action,” of the relationship between effective school leadership and improved student achievement. It then designed and implemented a program based on that model to recruit, train, and support school leaders. The New Leaders organization has partnered with a number of major urban school districts and CMOs to recruit, select, and train principals to serve in high-needs schools. These partners are located in nine different states and in Washington, D.C. New Leaders principals have been placed in a wide range of schools throughout the partner districts, with both traditional and atypical grade-level configurations. New Leaders principals have been placed in charter schools, traditional district schools, start-up schools, turnaround schools, and schools with a special focus.1 RAND Education is conducting a multiyear formative and summative evaluation of the New Leaders program, its theory of action, and its implementation. This evaluation is sponsored by New Leaders.
Our evaluation incorporates an annual student outcome analysis that uses student-level data in tandem with information about principals and schools to produce estimates of the program’s effect on student outcomes (Martorell et al., 2010). The most recent analysis (the fifth conducted to date), completed in August 2011, incorporates data from seven school districts through school year 2009-20102. RAND plans to conduct additional analyses in 2012 and 2013 of data from school years 2010-2011 and 2011–2012, respectively.
To estimate the program’s effect on student outcomes, we used several modeling approaches and controlled for various student-level and school-level characteristics that may affect outcomes.3 We examined the program’s effect on standardized test scores in mathematics and reading in all districts and on a variety of other student outcomes, including attendance,
1 For more information on the New Leaders program, please see their website at http://www.newleaders.org/.
2 The 2010—2011 school year data were not available at the time of analysis, as there is often a delay of a year or more in receiving test score data from districts and CMOs. Additionally, the span of data available varies by district; some districts provide historical data going back to school year 2001—2002. Others provide fewer school years of data, depending on the year the New Leaders program began in that district.
3 We estimated fixed effects, random effects, and first-difference models.