Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers

Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers

Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers

Who Is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers

Synopsis

Presents what is known about attracting and retaining school administrators, including the factors that influence people's decisions to pursue an administrative career, and concludes that there is no national shortage of qualified people for school administrative positions.

Excerpt

Some policymakers are concerned that just as state and federal governments are increasing school accountability requirements and relying on school administrators to promote improvement, schools and districts are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain people to fill school administrative positions and to do the job well. Several remedies for this perceived problem have been proposed, most of them grounded on little concrete information on the nature of the labor market for school administrators.

As part of the Wallace-Readers Digest Funds LEADERS Count initiative, RAND undertook a study to examine what the existing research and empirical data can reveal about the careers of school administrators. This was seen as a way to begin building a solid understanding of school administrative career paths and the challenges facing schools that employ these administrators.

This report develops a conceptual structure for understanding the careers of school administrators. Focusing on school principalships and superintendencies as important and readily identifiable positions, it emphasizes the fact that a career in school administration involves many steps and that it is important to consider the different paths people take to these high-visibility positions. The authors describe what is known about the individuals who hold administrative positions and how their characteristics have changed over time. They also describe what is known about the factors expected to influence individuals' decisions to seek particular administrative positions, focusing particularly on wages, working conditions, and barriers. The report should be of interest to education policymakers at the national, state, and local levels, as well as to educational researchers and practitioners.

Future RAND research will build on this base, examining the careers of school administrators in several states in greater detail.

This research was funded by the Wallace Funds and was conducted within RAND Education. This effort reflects RAND Education's mission to bring accurate data and careful, objective analysis to the national debate on education policy.

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