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Principals Cite Job Satisfaction

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Even though their hours are getting longer, their duties are growing more complex, and their pay levels have been stuck in neutral for a decade, most high-school principals are happy with their jobs, according to a new survey.

More than 70 percent of the 1,215 principals and assistant principals surveyed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals reported being confident that they had made the right career choice.

Only 3 percent, by contrast, said they definitely would pursue some other career path if they had a chance to do it all over again.

The high rate of job satisfaction exists in spite of the fact that principals' salaries have scarcely grown since 1977, once inflation has been taken into account. That was the last time nassp conducted a similar survey.

At the same time, the work has gotten more demanding. Eighty-six percent of principals reported their average work week exceeds 50 hours. In 1977, 83 percent worked that many hours.

Leonard O. Pellicer, who headed the research team that designed the survey, said he was "very, very surprised" to find that so many principals were satisfied with their careers.

"One thing it tells us is that money and job satisfaction aren't necessarily related," said Mr. Pellicer, a professor of educational leadership and policies at the University of South Carolina.

Principal Priorities

Principals believe that alcohol- and drug-abuse-prevention programs should be a high priority for schools, the survey found.

Other highly-ranked concerns included programs for the gifted, teacher-evaluation criteria, computer instruction, and programs for handicapped, minority, and non-English-speaking students.

Many of these concerns are relatively new, said Mr. Pellicer, noting that six of the top 10 issues ranked in the new poll were not included in the 1977 survey.

The principals also said that youth-gang activity, increased enrollment, child abuse, and the education-reform movement probably would affect their schools during the next several years.

More than 8 out of 10 principals responding to the survey also said that teachers should share in decisionmaking on important issues. But most of the principals said that parents should have little say in many school decisions.

The survey also found that:

Principals in 1987 cited the same top three educational priorities as they did in 1977: teaching the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic; helping students develop a positive self-image; and developing students' problem-solving abilities.

The average principal is a white male, age 35 to 55. Twelve percent of principals and 18 percent of assistant principals are female; 6 percent of the principals who responded to the survey are black or Hispanic.

Copies of the report, "High School Leaders and Their Schools," can be obtained for $9.00 each from nassp Publications Sales, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091.--ef

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