Working Paper
D.D. Liebowitz and Lorna Porter. Working Paper. “Descriptive evidence on school leaders' prior professional experiences and instructional effectiveness”.Abstract
Despite empirical evidence suggesting the important influence school leaders have on learning conditions and student outcomes in schools, relatively little is understood about the professional pathways they take into their roles. In this descriptive paper, we document the professional experiences, personal characteristics and instructional effectiveness of Oregon's principals and assistant principals between 2006 and 2019. We highlight the diversity of roles educators assume prior to entering school leadership. We find that school leaders who have prior teaching experience in tested grades and subjects do not raise student achievement at substantively or statistically meaningful higher rates than their peers. We document that female principals and assistant principals have become more representative of the teaching workforce, but that there have been almost no changes in the racial/ethnic composition of school leaders in Oregon. Finally, we observe minimal differences in female and non-White assistant principals' time-to-entry into the principalship. Our findings provide insights on potential points of intervention during the educator career trajectory to attract and develop more effective and demographically representative school leaders.
Download pdf here
D.D. Liebowitz, Lorna Porter, and Dylan Bragg. Working Paper. “The effects of higher-stakes teacher evaluation on office disciplinary referrals”.Abstract
Despite frequent political and policy debates, the effects of imposing accountability pressures on public school teachers are empirically indeterminate. In this paper, we study the effects of accountability in the context of teacher responses to student behavioral infractions in the aftermath of teacher evaluation reforms. We leverage cross-state variation in the timing of state policy implementation to estimate whether teachers change the rate at which they remove students from their classrooms. We find that higher-stakes teacher evaluation had no causal effect on the rates of disciplinary referrals, and we find no evidence of heterogeneous effects for grades subject to greater accountability pressures or in schools facing differing levels of disciplinary infractions. Our results are precisely estimated and robust to a battery of specification checks. Our findings provide insights on the effects of accountability policy on the black-box of classroom practice and highlight the loose-coupling of education policy and teacher behaviors.
Download pdf here
D.D. Liebowitz. Working Paper. “Teacher evaluation for accountability and growth: Should policy treat them as complements or substitutes?”.Abstract

Teacher evaluation policies seek to improve student outcomes by increasing the effort and skill levels of current and future teachers. Current policy and most prior research treats teacher evaluation as balancing two aims: accountability and skill development. Proper teacher evaluation design has been understood as successfully weighting the accountability and professional growth dimensions of policy and practice. I develop a model of teacher effectiveness that incorporates improvement from evaluation and detail conditions which determine the effectiveness of teacher evaluation for growth and accountability at improving student outcomes. Drawing on empirical evidence from the personnel economics, economics of education and measurement literatures, I simulate the long-term effects of a set of teacher evaluation policies. I find that those that treat evaluation for accountability and evaluation for growth as substitutes outperform policies that treat them as complements. I conclude that optimal teacher evaluation policies would impose accountability on teachers performing below a defined level and above which teachers would be subject to no accountability pressure but would receive intensive instructional supports. 

Download pdf here
D.D. Liebowitz. Working Paper. “Teacher evaluation for growth and accountability: Under what conditions does it improve student outcomes?”.Abstract
Teacher evaluation policies seek to improve student outcomes by improving teachers’ skills and increasing their effort. Current evaluation policies in the United States aim to impose accountability pressures and provide supports that generate professional growth. Proper policy design has been understood as successfully weighting the accountability and growth dimensions of teacher evaluation. I detail the conditions that determine whether joint-aim teacher evaluation policies will improve student outcomes. I then assess the extent to which these conditions are
likely to be met in light of the causal evidence base from the education, labor economics, social psychology and management literatures. Informed by this empirical review, I conclude with recommendations to more clearly delineate the accountability and growth aims of teacher evaluation.
Download pdf here
D.D. Liebowitz and L. Porter. 2019. “The effect of principal behaviors on student, teacher and school outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the empirical literature.” Review of Educational Research, 89, 5, Pp. 785-827. Open Access Publisher's VersionAbstract
Principals are understood to be critical actors in improving teaching and learning conditions in schools; however, relatively little is known about the leadership strategies to which principals should dedicate their time and effort to improve outcomes. We review the empirical literature from 51 studies of principal behaviors and student, teacher and school outcomes and conduct a meta-analysis of these relationships. Our  analysis has three central findings: (1) we find direct evidence of the relationship between principal behaviors and student achievement  0.08-0.16 standard deviations), teacher well-being (0.34-0.38 SD), teacher instructional practices (0.35 SD), and school organizational  health (0.72-0.81 SD); (2) we find that prior literature may overstate the unique importance of instructional management as a tool to improve  student achievement outcomes; and (3) the preceding findings are based almost entirely on observational studies because the causal evidence base on school leadership behaviors is non-existent. We argue our  findings suggest value in investing in school leadership capacities. We conclude by discussing opportunities to improve the quality of future  research examining the relationship between principal behaviors and student, teacher, and school outcomes.
Download study data Download code
D.D. Liebowitz. 2018. “Ending to what end? The impact of the termination of court desegregation orders on patterns of residential segregation and school dropout rates.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40, 1, Pp. 103-128. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the early 1990s, the Supreme Court established standards to facilitate the release of school districts from racial desegregation orders. Over the next two decades, federal courts declared almost half of all districts under court order in 1991 to be “unitary”—that is, to have met their obligations to eliminate dual systems of education. I leverage a comprehensive dataset of all districts that were under court order in 1991 to assess the national effects of the termination of desegregation orders on indices of residential-racial segregation and high-school dropout rates. I conclude that the release from court orders moderately increased the short-term rates of Hispanic–White residential segregation. Furthermore, the declaration of districts as unitary increased rates of 16- to 19-year-old school dropouts by around 1 percentage point for Blacks, particularly those residing outside the South, and 3 percentage points for Hispanics.

Download open access version
Liebowitz D.D., P. Gonzalez, E.H. Hooge, and G. Lima. 2018. OECD Reviews of School Resources: Portugal 2018. Paris: OECD Publishing, Inc. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This country review offers an independent analysis of major issues facing the use of school resources in Portugal from an international perspective. It provides a description of national policies, an analysis of strengths and challenges and options for possible future approaches. The analysis focuses on the process of decentralisation of school governance, the integration of local, national and international funding streams in educational financing, and the development of the teaching profession. The report covers primary and secondary school education.
D.D. Liebowitz and L.C. Page. 2015. “Residential choice as school choice: The impact of unitary status in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.” In Yesterday, today and tomorrow: School desegregation and resegregation in Charlotte, edited by R.A. Mickelson, S.S. Smith, and A. Hawn-Nelson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
D.D. Liebowitz and L.C. Page. 2014. “Does school policy affect housing choices? Evidence from the end of desegregation in Charlotte Mecklenburg.” American Education Research Journal, 51, 4, Pp. 671-703. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We examine whether the legal decision to grant unitary status to the
Charlotte–Mecklenburg school district, which led to the end of race-conscious
student assignment policies, increased the probability that families with children
enrolled in the district would move to neighborhoods with a greater proportion
of student residents of the same race as their own children. Motivated
by the rich but inconclusive literature on the consequences of educational
and residential segregation, we make use of a natural policy experiment—a
judicial decision to end court-ordered busing—to estimate the causal
impacts of this policy shift on household residential decisions. We find
that, for those who moved, the legal decision made White families with children
in the Charlotte–Mecklenburg Schools substantially more likely than
they were during desegregation to move to a neighborhood with a greater
proportion of White residents than their own neighborhood.

Download open access version