School & District Management

Some Nuance in the Image of the School-Hopping Turnaround Principal

By Sarah D. Sparks — July 24, 2014 1 min read

High principal mobility has become something of an education truism in our age of quick school turnaround initiatives: If the turnaround doesn’t work, the principal is gone in two years, bumped by federal and state sanctions on struggling schools. And if the turnaround does work, teachers are still likely to see their leader leave in a few years, pulled off by the promise of new challenges with more money or prestige.

That’s why the new principal survey by the National Center on Education Statistics is so interesting. There are a lot of good data here to chew on (and for a broader look, check out my colleague Denisa Superville’s principal coverage over at District Dossier), but I was struck by a little nugget that broke out how much principals felt they had accomplished at their school and whether they stayed another year, left for a different school, or left the profession entirely:

This seems to suggest that principals who feel they are able to get things done are much more frequently the ones who stay on, and those who felt they didn’t accomplish much—or perhaps had less control over their budget or curriculum—were more often the ones heading out the door. (The principals marked “other” were those who left the school but could not be tracked to determine if they went to a different school or left the field.)

Chart data source: NCES

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