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Understanding Principal Turnover: A TC study finds different motivations among those who leave their jobs and casts doubt on current retention strategies

 

A new Teachers College study finds that principals who leave their schools fall into two distinct categories—satisfied and disaffected—and suggests that policies aimed at retention (including merit or bonus incentive pay) may be succeeding primarily with those in the latter group, who perceive their schools as poorly run and are potentially the most problematic to hold in schools.

 

The research, conducted by Alex J. Bowers, Associate Professor of Education Leadership in the Department of Organization & Leadership, and his former student, Jared Boyce (Ph.D. ’15), now an education researcher at SRI International, was published in the journal Leadership and Policy in Schools.

Bowers is an education researcher who has adapted recent innovative techniques from the “big data” data mining and analytics fields to help schools and districts improve students’ long-term learning. Boyce received the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the AERA Advanced Studies of National Databases Special Interest Group.

The new study finds that policies aimed at retention (including merit or bonus incentive pay) may be succeeding primarily with disaffected principals who perceive their schools as poorly run and are potentially the most problematic to hold in schools.

The two researchers analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the 2008-09 Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS). They used a statistical method specifically designed to examine whether or not there are multiple subgroups within a larger body of data. The method helped them determine the number of statistically different groups of principals within the data; identify variables that predict which subgroup a principal might belong to; and also predict whether being within a certain subgroup predicts whether a principal will move on to another principalship or simply retire from the profession.   

Bowers and Boyce also found that principals who, prior to being in their jobs, had attended a program such as the Teachers College Summer Principals Academy, which prepares aspiring school leaders, were 1.53 times less likely to be disaffected.

Published Thursday, Jul 14, 2016

Alex J. Bowers
Alex J. Bowers, Associate Professor of Education Leadership
Jared Boyce
Jared Boyce (Ph.D. ’15), Education Researcher, SRI International

 

A new Teachers College study finds that principals who leave their schools fall into two distinct categories—satisfied and disaffected—and suggests that policies aimed at retention (including merit or bonus incentive pay) may be succeeding primarily with those in the latter group, who perceive their schools as poorly run and are potentially the most problematic to hold in schools.

 

The research, conducted by Alex J. Bowers, Associate Professor of Education Leadership in the Department of Organization & Leadership, and his former student, Jared Boyce (Ph.D. ’15), now an education researcher at SRI International, was published in the journal Leadership and Policy in Schools.

Bowers is an education researcher who has adapted recent innovative techniques from the “big data” data mining and analytics fields to help schools and districts improve students’ long-term learning. Boyce received the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the AERA Advanced Studies of National Databases Special Interest Group.

The new study finds that policies aimed at retention (including merit or bonus incentive pay) may be succeeding primarily with disaffected principals who perceive their schools as poorly run and are potentially the most problematic to hold in schools.

The two researchers analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the 2008-09 Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS). They used a statistical method specifically designed to examine whether or not there are multiple subgroups within a larger body of data. The method helped them determine the number of statistically different groups of principals within the data; identify variables that predict which subgroup a principal might belong to; and also predict whether being within a certain subgroup predicts whether a principal will move on to another principalship or simply retire from the profession.   

Bowers and Boyce also found that principals who, prior to being in their jobs, had attended a program such as the Teachers College Summer Principals Academy, which prepares aspiring school leaders, were 1.53 times less likely to be disaffected.

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