An Analysis of Principal Attrition in a Large Urban School District
Anthony, Douglas W
McLauglin, Margaret J
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Principal attrition is a national problem particularly in large urban school districts. Research confirms that schools that serve high proportions of children living in poverty have the most difficulty attracting and retaining competent school leaders. Principals who are at the helm of high poverty schools have a higher turnover rate than the national average of three to four years and higher rates of teacher attrition. This leadership turnover has a fiscal impact on districts and negatively affects student achievement. Research identifies a myriad of reasons why administrators leave the role of principal: some leave the position for retirement; some exit based on difficulty of the role and lack of support; and some simply leave for other opportunities within and outside of the profession altogether. As expectations for both teacher and learner performance drive the national education agenda, understanding how to keep effective principals in their jobs is critical. This study examined the factors that principals in a large urban district identified as potentially affecting their decisions to stay in the position. The study utilized a multi-dimensional, web-based questionnaire to examine principals’ perceptions regarding contributing factors that impact tenure. Results indicated that: • having a quality teaching staff and establishing a positive work-life balance were important stay factors for principals; • having an effective supervisor and collegial support from other principals, were helpful supports; and • having adequate resources, time for long-term planning, and teacher support and resources were critical working conditions. Taken together, these indicators were the most frequently cited factors that would keep principals in their positions. The results were used to create a framework that may serve as a potential guide for addressing principal retention.