Due to the recent emphasis towards a ‘decentralization, autonomy and accountability’ model, it is widely believed that school leadership and high quality school management is one of the keys for a successful school. Despite that, few quantitative studies address whether school leadership activities affect student performance, since providing reliable quantitative measures of school management effectiveness is not an easy task. In this survey we review the different alternative methodologies and the main findings suggested by the literature. Overall, the existing results find that the quality of principal activities is positively related to student outcomes. These studies also find substantial heterogeneity in managerial practices across schools and countries. More work should be done on these issues in order to better understand how exactly school management affects students learning and to identify the best policies that improve principals’ effectiveness.