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Report Looks at High Cost and Rate of Principal Turnover

Report Looks at High Cost and Rate of Principal Turnover

Being a principal may be one of the most demanding jobs in the school system, and a new report finds that about half of new principals leave in their third year at school -- and it is an expensive blow to their districts.

According to the School Leaders Network, its study, "The High Cost of Principal Turnover" said that 25,000 principals leave their schools each year, "leaving millions of children's lives adversely affected" and "50 percent of new principals quit during their third year in the role."

"This report calls upon decision-makers and funders to value and prioritize principal retention efforts as much as principal pipeline development efforts, which research shows are necessary for the sake of students and schools," the report said. "School systems and others trying to improve America's public schools have been focused over the last decade on getting talented, trained school leaders into schools, among other reforms. However, this report shows, the narrow focus on the principal pipeline has significant, unintended consequences. In short: Leaders are effectively being thrown into the deep end of the pool without adequate continued support, impacting schools, teachers, students and our country.

Those that remain frequently, the report said, "do not stay at high poverty schools, trading difficult-to-lead schools for less demanding leadership roles that serve more affluent populations. "These retention and persistence realities deeply hamper the ability for schools, particularly high poverty schools, to initiate and sustain school improvement efforts necessary to achieve real gains for students."

The report also said that "the job has become too complex and isolating" and "principals put in long hours overseeing teachers, meeting with parents and implementing one reform after another" and costs $75,000 "to recruit and train each replacement

Authors of the report provide four suggestions in order to "reverse the current flood of leadership out the door":

  1. Continue to invest in leadership development beyond pipeline investments.
  2. Engage principals in authentic peer networks where principals can learn from other principals the art and practice of leading schools.
  3. Provide one-to-one coaching support to principals beyond the first two years.
  4. Revise the structure and purpose of district office principal supervisors' roles.

Read the full report. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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