The Latest RAND Study Finds New Leaders Improves Student Achievement and Other Outcomes

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Today, the RAND Corporation released an independent, multi-year evaluation confirming New Leaders’ effectiveness in improving student achievement.

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2019

New York, NY — The RAND researchers found that New Leader principals have a positive, statistically significant impact on students’ math and literacy scores, providing further validation and detail on the “New Leader effect” previously reported by RAND in a similarly rigorous study published in 2014.

The new RAND study analyzes data on graduates of Aspiring Principals, New Leaders’ signature principal preparation program, in the years after the organization created Emerging Leaders, a program that trains educators earlier in their leadership careers—many of whom later pursue training via Aspiring Principals.

“This study provides evidence that New Leaders continues to prepare principals for success in leading K-8 schools,” said Susan Gates, lead author of the study and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “In an exciting development for the field, the report offers new evidence that the competency assessments conducted by New Leaders during the program may predict future performance as a principal. It also contributes to a growing body of evidence about the effectiveness of principal preparation programs that embody key research-based features such as strong district partnerships and alignment to crucial leadership standards.”

In addition to student achievement, RAND found positive outcomes regarding:

  • Student attendance in New Leader schools;
  • Placement of New Leaders into principal positions; and
  • Retention of New Leader principals in their schools and districts.

The researchers further examined the relationship between the performance of program graduates (“aspiring leaders”) on the New Leaders Transformational Leadership Framework™ standards during their training and student and school outcomes on the job. RAND found that when aspiring leaders demonstrate stronger skills in specifically defined areas related to instructional and team leadership, students are more likely to have higher math and literacy achievement as well as stronger attendance rates. When aspiring leaders show stronger skills related to leadership in school operations and culture, they are more likely to stay in their position and in the district—crucial given the serious challenges associated with high leadership turnover rates in school districts across the nation.

“We are extremely gratified to see such strong, research-backed validation of our approach, recent programmatic improvements, and, most important, our impact on children and their schools,” said Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. “As we continue to expand our proven programming to reach leaders at all levels of the system—from teacher leaders to principals and their supervisors—we remain steadfast in our commitment to working hand in hand with our district, state, and charter partners to deliver solutions that meet the most pressing needs of the schools and students we serve.”

“We are excited that the report provides important new insights into how we can develop leaders with the skills predictive of their effectiveness,” said Brenda Neuman-Sheldon, PhD, Executive Director of Evaluation at New Leaders. “Understanding how we can further focus training on the precise competencies for educators and measure participants’ improvement in practice can revolutionize how we and other training programs carry out our work; we’re hopeful that it’s a game-changer for the education sector and, most crucially, for students.”

As part of its 2012 Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, New Leaders partnered with the RAND Corporation to determine the impact New Leader principals have on student achievement and other school outcomes. RAND’s evaluation included 140 schools and approximately 45,000 students in the following districts: Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, Chicago Public Schools in Illinois, District of Columbia Public Schools, the New York City Department of Education, Oakland Unified School District in California, Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, and Shelby County Schools in Tennessee. The evaluation also included schools and students overseen by the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board.


New Leaders transforms underperforming schools by developing outstanding leaders at every level of the education system—from teacher leaders to principals and their supervisors. We work in deep partnership with our state, district, and charter partners, delivering leadership solutions that build on their strengths and address their most-pressing priorities. Our evidence-based programming cultivates diverse, equity-driven leaders equipped with the skills to elevate instruction, enhance learning, and build vibrant, inclusive school communities. To encourage widespread adoption of effective, sustainable leadership practices, we also advocate for federal and state policies that support the work of school leaders everywhere. To date, New Leaders has trained 3,900 education leaders who annually reach nearly half a million PK-12 students, mostly students of color and children from low-income families. Our programs deliver breakthrough academic results and building brighter futures for high-need urban and rural communities nationwide.