A new study by Jason A. Grissom and Brendan Bartanen of Vanderbilt University examines the impact of principal effectiveness on teacher turnover. It’s well established that better school leadership leads to lower average turnover, but as the authors write, “all teacher turnover is not created equal.”
Grissom and Bartanen used data on all public education personnel in the state of Tennessee from 2012 to 2017. To gauge teacher effectiveness, they relied on observation and student growth scores. And for principals, they looked to evaluations by superiors, as well as surveys from teachers.
Tennessee’s statewide educator evaluation system, the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) began in the 2011–12 school year and produced the data used in this study. This means that principals in Tennessee may have had better information to use when evaluating teachers than their peers in other states.
Grissom and Bartanen offer descriptive findings that add context to their examination of whether principals affect teacher turnover. Most noteworthy is that, in general, less effective teachers are more likely to turn over: 37 percent of the teachers in the least effective band turned over, compared to just 11 percent of teachers in the most effective range. Overall, 13...