Increasing principal influence over hiring
My newest paper, with Mimi Engel and Chris Curran, uses seven waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey to explore trends in principal influence over hiring new teachers in their schools. Published in the Journal of Educational Administration, “Principal influence in teacher hiring: documenting decentralization over time” sheds light on an important topic in policy and research: how much influence do principals have in hiring teachers?
We find that principals report increasing influence over hiring teachers over the past 25 years, when policy debates have emphasized the need for decentralization in teacher hiring.
We also explored whether principal influence over hiring varied systematically by school context. While principals of urban schools were much more likely to report having less influence over teacher hiring compared to their non-urban counterparts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their reported influence increased more than that of other principals. Similarly, charter school principals reported more influence than their peers in non-charter public schools, although the difference diminished over time.
Empowering principals as primary decision-makers assumes that they have the best information on which to make hiring decisions. At the same time, other research suggests that local teacher labor market dynamics contribute to the inequitable sorting of teachers across schools. This study raises questions regarding the implications of the increased influence of principals in teacher hiring on equity of access to quality teachers across schools.