Qualified but not Willing: the Problem with Recruiting Superintendents in Iowa
Smith, Elaine Lagormarsino
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The problem. The problem of this study was to find out how many people held a valid Pre K-12 superintendent endorsement in the State of Iowa during the 1996-97 calendar year, but who were not currently serving as a superintendent in the state, to determine whether or not any of these people were seeking a superintendent position, and to find out what they considered to be attractive or not attractive about serving as a Pre K-12 school superintendent. Procedures. Data was collected through three sources: conversational interviews with educational leaders of the state, a survey of the superintendent endorsed population, and focus group forums with selected survey respondents. Descriptive statistics were used to report findings from the survey. Qua1itative research methodology was used in analyzing information from the three sources and for deriving conclusions of the study. Findings. Four research questions guided this study. The findings addressing those questions are: (a) There were 315 people endorsed to be a school superintendent in Iowa in 1996-97 who were not serving as a superintendent; (b) Sixty percent of the endorsed population was not seeking a superintendent's position at the time of this study; (c) For those seeking or considering a position six barriers or conditions were identified as influencing their decision to apply: satisfaction with their current position, negative impact on their family life, too political an arena, high stress level in the job, absence of superintendent experience, and instability in length of job; (d) Possible candidates believed their willingness to apply could be positively inf 1 uenced by honest and active recruitment and training and support from acting superintendents. Conclusions. The majority of the superintendent-endorsed people were not planning to become a superintendent. As a whole, the endorsed population did not find the complexity and demands of the superintendency to be an attractive career move. If they were to seek a position, study participants wanted strong professional support and encouragement throughout the process. Recommendations. 1. Similar research should be conducted in other states to further expand the understanding of the nation's leadership crisis--especially as it relates to the school superintendency. 2. There are indications that a similar leadership crisis is operating in the state of Iowa pertaining to building level leadership. A similar study could contribute to the dialogue addressing that crisis. 3. Participants in this study most often turned to current superintendents to receive information about the job. A study could reveal what superintendents are saying both formally and informally about their role.
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