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Study Finds Principal Mobility Takes Toll on Budgets, Learning

"Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover"

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The high rate of principal turnover is costing school districts dearly, particularly teachers and students in high-poverty systems, says a new report by the School Leaders Network.

According to the report, which was released last month, a quarter of the country's principals leave their schools each year, and nearly 50 percent do so in their third year. That churn happens after a district typically has spent an estimated $75,000 on each leader to prepare, hire, and place that person on the job, the report found.

A 10-percent reduction in principal turnover in high-poverty districts—where 27 percent of principals leave their schools annually—along with an increase in principal effectiveness, could add $30,000 to a student's lifetime earning potential, the report says.

Annual Principal-Churn Rates at Affluent and High-Poverty Schools

The School Leaders Network, a national group aimed at improving professional development for public school principals, came up with the lost-earnings estimate by using a calculation that took into account the annual income for people of color from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and extrapolating their lifetime earnings. The report is based on a literature review of principal studies, survey data, and analyses of statistics from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Census.

According to the report, same-school principal-turnover rates are highest in Alaska, California, Delaware, Idaho, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. In those states, principals stay at the same school an average of 2.7 to 3.5 years.

Vol. 34, Issue 12, Page 5

Published in Print: November 12, 2014, as Study Finds Principal Mobility Takes Toll on Budgets, Learning
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