NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED528727
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 52
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Who's Next? Let's Stop Gambling on School Performance and Plan for Principal Succession
Schmidt-Davis, Jon; Bottoms, Gene
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
The future of public school performance demands that states and districts actively develop and seek strong principals. Instructional leadership is the critical element that is missing in efforts to improve America's lowest-performing schools and in moving good schools to great schools. Turnover among principals currently is at an unsustainable level, and the quality of the pool of leaders available to step up in the next few years is suspect. Better succession planning for school leaders offers a viable solution to these problems. Each year, about 20 percent of the nation's 90,000 public school principals leave their jobs, leaving more than 18,000 schools with a new principal each fall. Most of the time, the district office is assuming that several highly qualified applicants will step forward and the vacancy will be filled by the best candidate. It is rare for a district to anticipate its vacancies accurately and to identify ahead of time multiple internal candidates who have been groomed and developed over several years so that they are ready for the job immediately. It is even rarer in challenged urban and rural school districts, where finding good leaders often is a perpetual crisis. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) sees succession planning for school leaders as a virtuous circle that begins with the identification of talented young educators and then continues over time with talent development and, eventually, the selection of school leaders. Selected leaders need substantial, continuing support as they assume and grow into their responsibilities as school principals. At the end of the process, they are prepared to be successful principals. Even then, however, new principals remain very much involved in succession planning. One of the nonnegotiable responsibilities of their position is that they develop the leadership capacity and potential of their teachers, including developing some teachers as future school leaders. This paper discusses how the six steps of SREB's conceptual framework for succession planning--identifying and then developing talent, selecting the right leaders and carefully onboarding them, evaluating leaders and processes, and immediately using new leaders to grow future leaders--offer a logical and sustainable plan states and districts can implement to ensure they have the right principals for the job. (Contains 2 figures, 1 table, 3 exhibits, and 103 endnotes.)
Southern Regional Education Board. 592 10th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318-5790. Tel: 404-875-9211; Fax: 404-872-1477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Wallace Foundation
Authoring Institution: Southern Regional Education Board