School & District Management Report Roundup

Study Looks at Turnover of Charter Principals

“You’re Leaving? Sustainability and Succession in Charter Schools”
By Mary Ann Zehr — November 30, 2010 1 min read

Includes updates and/or revisions.

Seventy-one percent of charter school leaders say they plan to leave their schools within five years, raising questions about the stability of the culture of those schools, according to a report released last month by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

The rate of turnover of leadership is based on a 2007 survey, which had 400 respondents who were charter school leaders in six states.

The report says that the country has about 5,000 charter schools, which are public schools permitted to operate more independently than traditional public schools, and about 400 new ones are expected to open each year.

The turnover rate for leaders of charter schools is similar to, or lower than, the rate for traditional public school principals, according to the report. But its author, Christine Campbell, a researcher at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, contends that the uniqueness of many charter schools makes them more vulnerable to instability with a change in leadership. That’s because of the importance of finding a leader who is a good fit with the culture of the school and the inability of charter schools to tap into a pool of candidates for hiring as easily as traditional public schools can.

The report also provides several recommendations for how charter schools can prevent educational disruption with a change of leadership. It says that current school leaders should be preparing people to have the capacity to be next in line for leadership. It recommends that governing boards actively recruit new leaders. The report also calls for charter schools to borrow management strategies from the nonprofit sector.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Study Looks at Turnover of Charter Principals

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