David D. Liebowitz

Assistant Professor of Educational Methodology, Policy and LeadershipUniversity of Oregon

Published Papers

The effects of principal behaviors on student, teacher and school outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the empirical literature (with Lorna Porter)

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.
Principal behavior effects on student achievement

Publisher's version: Review of Educational Research, 89(5), pp. 785-827

Open-access version: Google Drive

Replication files: Stata code; Data

Media coverage: Wallace Foundation

Ending to what end? The impact of the termination of court desegregation orders on patterns of residential segregation and school dropout rates

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.

Does school policy affect housing choices? Evidence from the end of desegregation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (with Lindsay C. Page)

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.