Through the Eyes of School Personnel Administrators: What Matters in Selecting Elementary School Principals
Muhlenbruck, Thomas M.
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The problem: The problem of this study is two-fold: first to describe those characteristics that are most likely to appeal to educators when hiring elementary principals in large sized school districts in Iowa. Second, to describe what a typical hiring process looks like in these districts and whether or not that process has changed over time. Procedures: Data were collected through two sources: A survey of 58 members of the Iowa Association of School Personnel Administrators (IASPA) and twelve follow up in-depth interviews with selected members of this group. Findings: The following research questions guide this study: Are there characteristics that are clearly more influential than others in the selection of elementary principals? How does the hiring process typically proceed? Is it different from the past? If it is different, how and why? Four major themes emerged from the survey (76% return rate) and interviews. These included: (a) value and respect for others, (b) knowledge of how schools work, (c) licensure requirements and experience, and (d) organizational fit. Developing specific hiring criteria was found to be the most important hiring item in the hiring process. In addition, participants in this study spoke of increased participation and collaboration among people within the district as well as across the state throughout the entire recruitment and selection process. Conclusions: Three broad conclusions emerged from the findings of this study: First, a candidate who is hired as an elementary principal in a large district in Iowa must be a "people" person - someone who first and foremost values and respects others. Second, a candidate who is hired as an elementary principal must have a strong working knowledge of both instruction and management. Finally, data from this study indicated that formal and informal hiring networks are alive and well in Iowa.
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