NEPC Review: Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance

In Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance, published by the Center for American Progress, the authors seek to bring fiscal and student achievement data to the debate around mayoral control. The fiscal analyses of mayoral-led cities are problematic due to inappropriate comparisons and a lack of reliable and valid evidence supporting the assertion that mayoral control has an influence on the amount or the distribution of resources. Throughout the discussion of student achievement, the report highlights positive findings in a few districts, but offers limited discussion of mayor-led cities where such gains were not found and of other cities in the country that saw strong gains without mayoral control. These issues call into question whether “mayoral control” is appropriately credited with the improvements identified in the report. The paper does not provide or explain the statistical methods or provide the findings essential to supporting the authors’ claims. Nevertheless, this report offers useful information about the context for shifts to mayoral control in different cities and the challenges that may arise in such governance changes. The limitations, however, preclude relying on either the report’s findings or its recommendations in making policy decisions.

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