SELECTION(AL) HEALING: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDENT OUTCOMES AND MISSISSIPPI'S METHOD FOR SELECTING SUPERINTENDENTS
Mississippi is one of just three states in the country that elects a portion of their school district superintendents. Because candidates running for superintendent must reside within the district itself, not all districts have an equal opportunity to select a qualified leader. Using multiple regression analysis on a cross section of data from the 2013-14 school year, I find evidence of a detrimental effect on student outcomes when a district elects their superintendent. Specifically, a district that elects their superintendent can expect their graduation rate to be, on average, 4.6 percentage points lower than a similar district that appoints their superintendent. The difference in graduation rates is largest in the smallest districts, giving way to the possibility of a "big-fish-little-pond" effect - the smaller the district, the less qualified, on average, the elected superintendent. If we are to believe the results, then it might be worth implementing a policy that gives smaller districts more candidates to choose from. Because state legislation is regularly proposed to transition all elected superintendents to appointment the results from this paper would be of interest to Mississippi law makers.
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