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Jason Grissom - Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN, US

Jason Grissom

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education | Vanderbilt University


An expert in K-12 leadership and policy and the impacts of school and district leaders on teacher and student outcomes.






Faculty Profile: Jason Grissom



Using large data sets, Jason Grissom's research draws on the perspectives of political science, public administration and economics to understand the governance of K-12 education, including both its leadership/management and political dimensions. He is particularly interested in identifying the impacts of school and district leaders on teacher and student outcomes and has conducted research on principal effectiveness, human capital decision-making in schools, school board governance, and turnover among teachers, principals and superintendents.

Areas of Expertise (14)

Teacher effectiveness

School Boards

K-12 Administration

Education Policy and Leadership

Teacher Pay

Race and Gender of the Public Education Workforce

Governance of K-12 Education

Leadership Effectiveness

Leadership Principals

School and District Leaders

Teacher Mobility

Education Policy

Teacher Evaluations

Teacher Turnover

Accomplishments (3)

Fellow (professional)

Chancellor Faculty

Chancellor’s Award for Research (professional)

On Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

A. Ross Thomas Outstanding Paper Award (professional)

Journal of Educational Administration

Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D.

Stanford University: M.A.

North Carolina State University: B.A.

Affiliations (5)

  • Faculty Fellow, Tennessee Education Research Alliance
  • Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Vanderbilt University
  • Thomas B. Fordham Institute/American Enterprise Institute Emerging Education Policy Scholar
  • Policy Research Scholar, University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy
  • American Educational Research Alliance

Selected Media Appearances (9)

We Pay Superintendents Big Bucks and Expect Them to Succeed. But We Hardly Know Them

Education Week  online


What could we learn if we did have year-to-year—sometimes called longitudinal—data on the same sample of superintendents? We have some clues on this, thanks to work by Jason Grissom, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, and his research colleagues who have looked at state-level data in Missouri and California.

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New Study Finds Gifted Programs Favor Wealth Over Ability

WPLN  radio


A new study confirms that lower-income elementary students are far less likely than their wealthier counterparts to be placed in gifted programs. That’s even when those students go to the same school and display the same levels of academic achievement. Vanderbilt University's Jason Grissom co-authored the study. He says, while people often talk about a lack of access to gifted programs for low-income students, his research found something different.

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Unequal access to gifted-and-talented education is a national disgrace

New York Daily News  online


Mayor de Blasio’s School Diversity Advisory Group has proposed phasing out New York City’s elementary gifted programs. The group’s recommendation takes aim at school segregation, which it says is encouraged by unequal access to gifted programs for students from different backgrounds.

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Money over merit? New study says gifted programs favor students from wealthier families

Chalkbeat  online


“This isn’t just a neighborhood problem,” said Jason Grissom, one of the authors and an associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. “By comparing students within schools, we looked at a high-income kid who’s sitting in the same classroom as a kid with similar characteristics but just from a lower income family, and the system was less likely to identify that lower income kid for gifted services.”

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Nashville schools opened with nearly 100 teacher vacancies this year; here's why it's a chronic problem

Tennessean  online


Teacher shortages tend to be localized and are more pronounced in urban areas, said Jason Grissom, a Vanderbilt professor.

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Study finds that new principals can boost student achievement — with a little help

Hechinger Report  online


Jason Grissom, an expert in principal effectiveness at Vanderbilt University, said that’s what schools and districts would want to know from a study like this. “These are big investments,” said Grissom, who did not have an advance copy of the report. “You need the evidence to convince districts it’s worth making.”

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Why Struggling Schools End Up With Less Effective Principals

Education Week  online


"We see this pattern consistently for teachers virtually everywhere that anyone has looked at it," said Jason Grissom [...]

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Why principals lie to ineffective teachers: Honesty takes too long

Washington Post  online


Researchers Jason Grissom of Vanderbilt University and Susanna Loeb of Stanford University published a study in the journal Education Finance and Policy similar to the study by Kraft and Gilmour in Educational Researcher. Both reports compared the formal district evaluations principals submitted with how those principals assessed the same teachers in confidential surveys. The formal and confidential assessments were as different as your view of your company’s latest mission statement might be when talking to your boss or your spouse.

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Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered

New York Times  online


The numbers are startling. Black third graders are half as likely as whites to be included in programs for the gifted, and the deficit is nearly as large for Hispanics, according to work by two Vanderbilt researchers, Jason Grissom and Christopher Redding.

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Selected Articles (5)

The Impacts of Principal Turnover

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Brendan Bartanen, Jason A Grissom, Laura K Rogers

2019 Nationally, 18% of principals turn over each year, yet research has not yet credibly established the effects of this turnover on student and teacher outcomes. Using statewide data from Missouri and Tennessee, we employ a difference-in-differences model with a matched comparison group to estimate arguably causal effects.

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Principal sorting and the distribution of principal quality


Jason A Grissom, Brendan Bartanen, Hajime Mitani

2019 Numerous studies document the inequitable distribution of teacher quality across schools. We focus instead on the distribution of principal quality, examining how multiple proxies for quality, including experience, teachers’ survey assessments of leaders, and rubric-based practice ratings assigned by principals’ supervisors, vary by measures of school advantage, using administrative data from Tennessee.

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Strategic retention: Principal effectiveness and teacher turnover in multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems

American Educational Research Journal

Jason A Grissom, Brendan Bartanen

2019 Studies link principal effectiveness to lower average rates of teacher turnover. However, principals need not target retention efforts equally to all teachers. Instead, strong principals may seek to strategically influence the composition of their school’s teaching force by retaining high performers and not retaining lower performers. We investigate such strategic retention behaviors with longitudinal data from Tennessee.

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Principal preparation programs and principal outcomes

Educational Administration Quarterly

Jason A Grissom, Hajime Mitani, David S Woo

2019 Concerns about variation in the quality of preservice preparation provided by many university-based principal preparation programs (PPPs) has led to calls to use outcomes of program graduates to hold PPPs accountable. Little research, however, has assessed the degree to which different outcomes for PPP graduates in fact vary systematically by program.

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Mapping Inequalities in Local Political Representation: Evidence from Ohio School Boards


Brendan Bartanen, Jason A Grissom, Ela Joshi, Marc Meredith

2018 Elected representatives’ place of residence can reveal information about their socioeconomic status, their likely social networks, and potential biases in the constituencies they represent. Using data on home addresses we collected from local elections offices, we investigate the geographic distribution of school board candidates’, including winners’, places of residence across two election cycles for 610 school districts in Ohio.

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