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Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP13/2018

Publication date: July 2018

This study aims to explore the experiences and perceptions of school educators on how school principals monitor curriculum delivery. It investigates the principal-agent problem and accountability in education in the Eastern Cape. Two types of data are used: qualitative data from interviews with school principals and teachers, and quantitative data from an international educational evaluation. The interview data were collected in 2015 at selected primary schools within three Eastern Cape education districts. Respondents at each school included the school principal and three foundation phase teachers. To triangulate findings from interviews, the association between school leadership and student academic scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 dataset was examined for both Grade 5 and 9. The association between measures of instructional leadership (e.g. teachers’ understanding of curricular goals and teachers’ degree of success in implementing curricular goals) and student scores for mathematics and science was explored using linear probability models. Findings confirm the existence of the principal-agent problem in education, since many school respondents indicated that curriculum delivery monitoring was not conducted as expected. From the multivariate analysis, instructional leadership variables, such as teachers’ understanding of curricular goals and teachers’ degree of success in implementing the curriculum appear as important correlates of student achievement, though significance differs according to level of schooling and whether the questions were answered by principals or teachers. Policy implications point to a need to hire, empower and support principals to create a culture of accountability in schools.

JEL Classification:
I20, I21, I28

instructional leadership, principal-agent problem, accountability, education production function, economics of education, student achievement