Education Drivers

Principal Retention Strategies

Retention strategies must address the variables that contribute to principal turnover, including (a) the complexity and hourly demands of the job; (b) the lack of effective initial and ongoing professional development; (c) little or no ongoing professional community, coaching, or one-to-one support; and (d) accountability for school performance with limited authority in critical decisions such as hiring, firing, and budgetary control. Effective retention strategies start with a needs assessment and plan for implementation and monitoring the retention process. The components of such a process consist of (a) enhanced and aggressive outreach and selection strategies that bring in the best candidates, (b) principal preparation that offers relevant curriculum content and significant field experience including direct feedback and coaching, (c) ongoing induction support for new principals with continuing one-to-one coaching from assigned mentors on an ongoing basis, (d) principal peer networks where principals can share strategies and solutions to issues as they arise, and (e) clear accountability frameworks that give principals measurable outcome targets and increased authority for making critical school decisions regarding staff, budgets, and policy.

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Characteristics of Public, Private, and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey. First Look.

This report presents selected findings from the school principal data files of the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS).  It provides the following descriptive information on school principals by school type, student characteristics, and other relevant categories: number, race/ethnicity, age, gender, college degrees, salary, hours worked, focus of work, years experience, and tenure at current school.

Battle, D. (2009). Characteristics of Public, Private, and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2007–08 Schools and Staf ng Survey (NCES 2009-323). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Stepping stones: Principal career paths and school outcomes

This study examines the detrimental impact of principal turnover, including lower teacher retention and lower student achievement. Particularly hard hit are high poverty schools, which often lose principals at a higher rate as they transition to lower poverty, higher student achievement schools.

Beteille, T., Kalogrides, D., & Loeb, S. (2012). Stepping stones: Principal career paths and school outcomes. Social Science Research, 41(4), 904-919.

Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Summary, First Look

The Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary School Principals in the United States is a subsection of the NCES 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). It provides descriptive statistics on K-12 school principals in areas such as: race, gender, education level, salary, experience, and working conditions.

Bitterman, A., Goldring, R., Gray, L., Broughman, S. (2014).Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States:Results From the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Summary, First Look. IES, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Rethinking Leadership: The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors

This report consists of two parts: a survey of 67 public school systems district staff serving as principal supervisors and on-site analysis of six districts pre-service training and support systems for new principals.

Corcoran, A., et al. (2013). Rethinking Leadership: The Changing Role of Principal Supervisors. The Wallace Foundation.

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

Using multiple measures of teacher and principal effectiveness, the authors document that indeed more effective principals see lower rates of teacher turnover, on average

Grissom, J. A., & Bartanen, B. (2019). Strategic retention: Principal effectiveness and teacher turnover in multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems. American Educational Research Journal56(2), 514–555.

Trends in Public and Private School Principal Demographics and Qualifications: 1987 - 88 to 2011 - 12

This report provides descriptive information on traditional public, charter, and private school principals over the period of 1987-88 through 2011-12. It includes comparative data on number of principals, gender, race/ethnicity, age, advance degrees, principal experience, teaching experience, salaries, hours worked, focus of work, experience and tenure at current schools, etc.

Hill, J., Ottem, R., & DeRoche, J. (2016). Trends in Public and Private School Principal Demographics and Qualifications: 1987-88 to 2011-12. Stats in Brief. NCES 2016-189. National Center for Education Statistics.

Principal Preferences and the Uneven Distribution of Principals Across Schools

The authors use longitudinal data from one large school district to investigate the distribution of principals across schools. They find that schools serving many low-income, non-White, and low-achieving students have principals who have less experience and less education and who attended less selective colleges. This distribution of principals is partially driven by the initial match of first-time principals to schools, and it is exacerbated by systematic attrition and transfer away from these schools.

Loeb, S., Kalogrides, D., & Horng, E. L. (2010). Principal preferences and the uneven distribution of principals across schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(2), 205-229.

Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look

The National Teacher and Principal Survey is completed every four years soliciting descriptive information from principals and teachers across the 50 states. A few highlights include: Sixty percent of school principals have been at their schools for three years or less. 

Taie, S., and Goldring, R. (2017). Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 201516 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look (NCES 2017-070). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017070.

Estimating the Effect of Leaders on Public Sector Productivity: The Case of School Principals
This paper looks at key elements effective school principal leadership and the impact of principal mobility on student achievement.
Branch, G. F., Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2012). Estimating the effect of leaders on public sector productivity: The case of school principals (No. w17803). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Do Local-Level Principal Preparation Programs Prevent Principal Turnover
This study applies multinomial logistic regression to a sample of 5,000 public school principals from the 2008-2009 National Schools and Staffing Principal Follow-up Survey. It examines the impact of school- or district-level principal pre-service training programs on three possible principal turnover outcomes: principals staying in the same school, moving to become principal of another school, or leaving the principal profession.
McKibben, S. (2013) Do Local-Level Principal Preparation Programs Prevent Principal Turnover?. The Public Purpose, Vol. XI
The Principal As Human Capital Manager: Lessons From The Private Sector
This chapter looks to the experience of the private sector for lessons on how to improve principal’s leadership and management performance.
Milanowski, A., & Kimball, S. (2010). The principal as human capital manager: Lessons from the private sector. Teaching talent: A visionary framework for human capital in education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Retrieved Dec, 16, 2010.
The Making of the Principal-Five Lessons in Leadership Training
This Wallace Perspective plumbs foundation research and work in school leadership to identify five lessons for better training, including: more selective admission to training programs, a focus on instructional leadership and mentoring for new principals.
Mitgang, L. (2012). The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training. Perspective. Wallace Foundation.
Principal Longevity, Leadership Behaviors, and Student Academic Achievement
Utilizing Pearson’s correlation and other forms of data analysis, the researcher explored relationships between principal longevity, leadership behaviors, and student academic achievement in this study. Additionally, the study considered the degree to which leadership behavior ratings seem to be associated with student academic achievement. The researcher found positive correlations among all three variables, with the strongest correlation being between principal longevity and student academic achievement. The only correlation that was found to be statistically significant was between principal longevity and student academic achievement.
Swearingen, J. M. (2014). Principal Longevity, Leadership Behaviors, and Student Academic Achievement.
Leadership for student learning: Reinventing the principalship
This paper makes the argument that current models for school principal leadership and management must be reexamined in light the complexity of the responsibilities that are required of principals. New models must revolve around leadership for learning and management strategies that rely on outsourcing and team leadership and a reliance on principal assessment, accountability, and data collection.
Usdan, M., McCloud, B., & Podmostko, M. (2000). Leadership for student learning: Reinventing the principalship. Institute For Educational Leadership, 1, 24.
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The Education Commission of the States

The Education Commission of the States was created by states in order to track state policy trends, translate academic research, provide unbiased advice and create opportunities for state leaders to learn from one another.

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