Academic journal article Planning and Changing

Superintendent Recruitment: A Statewide Assessment of Principal Attraction to the Job

Academic journal article Planning and Changing

Superintendent Recruitment: A Statewide Assessment of Principal Attraction to the Job

Article excerpt


One of the most important administrative challenges educational leaders-such as school board members and state department of education policymakers-face is the task of recruiting qualified personnel to fill superintendent vacancies in the nation's public school districts (Carter & Cunningham, 1997; Cooper, Fusarelli, & Carella, 2000; Glass, 1992, 2001a, 2001b; Glass & Björk, 2003; Kowalski, 1995,1999,2001; Tallerico, 2003). There is a substantial body of research focused on a wide array of issues relative to superintendents, including: superintendent career expectations (Cooper, Fusarelli, & Carella, 1999), superintendent job satisfaction (Fusarelli, Cooper, & Carella, 2003), state education leaders perceptions of the superintendency (Glass, 2001a), school board president assessments of applicant pools for superintendent vacancies (Glass, 2002), executive search consultant views of the supply and demand for superintendents (Glass, 2001b), superintendent turnover (Natkin, Cooper, Alborano, Padilla, & Ghosh, 2003), and gender and racial equity relative to superintendent hiring (Tallerico, 2000, 2003).

However, despite the considerable research attention paid to superintendents, there is one line of existing educational recruitment research that, as yet, has not been applied to superintendent vacancies. This line of inquiry, abundant relative to other educational personnel such as teachers (e.g., Winter, 1996; Winter & Melloy, 2005; Young, Place, Rinehart, Jury, & Baits, 1997; Young, Rinehart, 8c Heneman, 1993) and principals (e.g., Pounder & Merrill, 2001; Winter & Morgenthal, 2002; Winter, Rinehart, Keedy, & Björk, 2004), involves making empirical assessments of the job pursuit intentions of potential applicants for position vacancies. The typical methodology used in such investigations is to have qualified individuals, who are valid potential aspirants to the position under examination, rate their attraction to the job (Young et al., 1997; Young et al., 1993; Winter, Millay, Björk, & Keedy, 2005), with job rating serving as a focal criterion variable in subsequent analyses.

Consistent with the above line of inquiry, this study focused on the degree of attraction to the superintendency among a statewide cadre of experienced principals. Principals are an externally valid population to serve as participants in such research because they form an important component of the pipeline of potential future applicants for superintendent vacancies. In a national study about school board presidents, Glass (2002) found that "only fifty-two percent (52.6%) of newly hired superintendents possessed prior experience as a superintendent" (p. 7) and only about a third of new superintendents had prior experience as an assistant superintendent. By contrast, 97.9% of newly hired superintendents had prior experience as a principal at the high school (49.3%), middle school (24.3%), or elementary school (24.3%) level (Glass, 2002, p. 26).

Further, investigating the pipeline of potential applicants for superintendent vacancies is timely due to the massive retirements of school administrators beginning to occur among individuals who are members of the post-World War II "baby boom" generation (U.S. Department of Labor, 2000). Finally, despite the importance of assessing qualified applicants for superintendent vacancies, the education literature contains almost no empirical research about applicant attraction to the position among individuals, such as experienced principals, who comprise the supply of candidates qualified to fill position vacancies. In fact, there are so few administrator studies focused on applicant attraction to administrator vacancies that Pounder and Young (1996) issued a call for more empirical studies about factors that influence administrator recruitment:

Given the importance of recruitment, it is disappointing that few, if any, empirical studies exist which bear specifically on the attraction of individuals to public school administrator positions. …

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