Survey: One-Fifth of Principals’ Offices Turn Over Each Year

By Debra Viadero — July 07, 2010 1 min read

A handful of researchers around the country have begun to focus on the rate of turnover in the principalship. The attention is long overdue. While much is known about attrition rates among teachers, scholars know almost nothing about mobility rates for principals. The drawback to some of the newer studies, though, is that they have been conducted mostly in a few states such as Texas. National data on the topic has been harder to find.

Until now, that is.

The National Center for Education Statistics today trotted out findings from its first nationally representative survey on turnover in the principalship. It found that, of the 117,140 people who were principals of a public or private school during the 2007-08 school year, 80 percent remained at the same school the following year. Six percent moved to a different school. Another 12 percent left the principalship altogether and schools were unable to report the occupational status for another 3 percent of the principals who left.

Of the principals leaving the profession, the largest share—45 percent—were retiring. Another 33 percent had moved to another job within K-12 education, most likely a district administrative job. Only 3 percent had left education for a job in another field.

To me, that suggests burnout among principals may not be a huge factor in those decisions. For instance, while 17 percent of the public school principals who agreed or strongly agreed that they had less enthusiasm for the job now than they did when they started their career ended up leaving the field the next year, 74 percent who answered that question the same way stayed in the same school for another year. In all, though, only 23,000 principals—about a sixth of the total surveyed —concurred with that statement.

The survey also offers a gold mine of statistics on what principals do on the job and what their schools are like.

And here’s a piece of data around which principals and their students might even bond: More than 10,000 of the public school principals and nearly 3,000 of the private school ones said that, on occasion, they, too, think about staying home from school because they are just too tired to go.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read