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Improving and Sustaining Management Practices in Public Schools: Evidence from Puerto Rico

Last registered on April 17, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

Improving and Sustaining Management Practices in Public Schools: Evidence from Puerto Rico
Initial registration date
April 09, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 17, 2019, 8:21 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Toronto
PI Affiliation
Cornell University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Improvements in management practices have been credited with generating stunning productivity improvement in the private sector. Although their adoption in the education sector has been slow, management-level interventions have been shown to lead to significant improvements in school quality and students’ academic achievement. However, adoption of these practices in the public sector is often not sustained in the long run. Promoting improvements in school management practices is thus an amenable area for policy intervention, given the need to identify ways to achieve this sustainably and at scale.

Our proposed study is a collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) to experimentally evaluate the impact of a large-scale principal training program among its school directors. We will measure impacts on managerial practices collecting detailed longitudinal data to measure short and long-term adoption, as well as impacts on student achievement using standardized test scores data. The study will help inform whether improvements in managerial practices can be implemented in schools at scale, their long-term sustainability, and their effects on student learning.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bobonis, Gustavo, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro and Daniela Scur. 2019. "Improving and Sustaining Management Practices in Public Schools: Evidence from Puerto Rico." AEA RCT Registry. April 17.
Former Citation
Bobonis, Gustavo et al. 2019. "Improving and Sustaining Management Practices in Public Schools: Evidence from Puerto Rico." AEA RCT Registry. April 17.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


As part of the government’s policy priorities, the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) is seeking to introduce school leadership quality reforms to improve educational outcomes in the territory. The study will rigorously evaluate – via a randomized controlled trial – the impact of EDUGESPRO; a large-scale management training program to be implemented among the universe of approximately 900 PRDE school principals in the territory’s public education system over a two-year period (Academic Years 2010-20, 2020-21). The training of each cohort of principals will take place over the course of one academic year (approximately 154 hours), composed of an intensive 2-week summer intensive session in addition to monthly workshops and follow-up support during the academic year. A second treatment arm will also receive a post-training intervention aimed at sustaining managerial upgrades and maintenance of learned strategies via reminders.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
student standardized test scores
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
school-level managerial practices index; principal attendance; teacher attendance; classroom instruction; classroom management; student attendance; student grades
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The school-level managerial practices index is constructed using the Development World Management Survey (D-WMS), an internationally validated tool that helps identify prevalent management practices in schools. Classroom-level instruction and management measures will be captured using standard classroom observation instruments used in national and international settings (e.g. TEACH, Stallings, CLASS). Principal, teacher, and student attendance, as well as student grades, are based on PRDE administrative data.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The proposed design of the Puerto Rico Principals’ Academy program comprises two stages. Approximately 819 PRDE schools and their principals will be stratified by academic level (i.e., K-8, 9-12), PRDE district/region, and adoption of modern management practices at baseline. All schools within each stratum will be randomly assigned to one of three (3) experimental arms:

Treatment Arm 1 – Intensive Management Training (IMT) (Summer 2019, AY 2019-20) + Adoption Reminders (AYs 2019-20, 2020-21);
Treatment Arm 2 – IMT (Summer 2020, AY 2020-21) + Adoption Reminders (AY 2020-21);
Control Arm – Status Quo (Placebo)

Each of the arms of this stepped-wedge design will be composed of 273 schools/principals, with principals in all schools receiving the IMT by the end of the third year.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Stratified randomization by academic level (i.e., K-8, 9-12), PRDE district/region, and predicted adoption of modern management practices at baseline, done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
817 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
140,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment Arm 1 – 273 schools
Treatment Arm 2 – 272 schools
Control Arm - 272 schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Power calculations for students’ subject-specific proficiency rates based on standardized test scores, by academic level (i.e., Grades 3-8, Grade 11), using school-level administrative data for AY 2015-16 & 2016-17. Considering the cluster-randomized design with measurements of student test scores at baseline and end-line, the power calculations (power=0.9, α=0.05) suggest that with 237 elementary/middle schools per arm (assuming equal treatment and control group sample sizes), it will be possible to detect a year-specific increase in Grades 3-8 students’ academic proficiency in Spanish, English, and Math scores of respectively 0.11s, 0.10s, and 0.09s. (See power analysis appendix and response for details.) This is similar to existing short-term impacts of principal training programs in the US using student-level outcomes (e.g., Fryer 2017, Gates et al. 2014). Comparable MDEs for Grade 11 test scores are somewhat larger –in the range of 0.27s (in English) to 0.31s (in Spanish) – given the more limited number of high schools (61 high schools per experimental arm). We expect to gain statistical power at both grade level groups since we will have access to individual students’ (continuous) standardized test scores as opposed to only (binary) proficiency levels, individual-level baseline outcomes, and a larger sample of schools in the control group in Year 1 [e.g., 474 (= 273 x 2) K-8 schools and 122 (= 61 x 2) high schools].

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Toronto
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials