Why Are School Administrators in Short Supply and What Can Be Done About It?
Laing, Anne Sullivan
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The problem. The problem of this study was to find out why individuals who have attained the elementary principal endorsement were not serving as elementary school principals. The problem included finding out what barriers impeded individuals' pursuit of the elementary principalship, from whom or what they created their perceptions of the elementary principalship, and what motivated them initially to attain the elementary principal endorsement. Procedures. Data was obtained using a survey of 704 people, the entire population of individuals in Iowa who were endorsed to be elementary principals, but not serving in that role. Descriptive statistics and t tests were used to analyze and report data from the survey. Data from those individuals who had pursued the principalship but never offered a position, those that had never applied for a principalship, and those who had been principals, but left the principalship, total responses, and differences among the responses of men and women were the foci of the data analysis. Findings. Of 704 surveys sent, 424 (62%) were completed and returned. Forty-two percent of respondents were male and 58% of respondents were female. Sixty-seven percent of respondents were teachers. Current principals were the source of their perception of the elementary principalship. Motivation for attaining the elementary principal endorsement was to make a positive difference for students and teachers, the desire to be the leader of an elementary school. and to develop leadership skills. Barriers to the job of elementary principal rated highest: Satisfaction with current job; Geographic limitations as to where you can apply for a position or are not willing to relocate; Who you know is more important than in individual's merit in getting hired; The job itself: increased expectations, responsibilities of the principals' role; Time (balancing work and home); and Insufficient salary/fringe benefits. Conclusions. Barriers to the elementary principalship that could be addressed by policy were not the most difficult barriers to overcome. Even more poignantly, the most important reasons for not taking an elementary principalship were not clearly amenable to policy redress. By their actions on the job, current principals teach teachers about what being a principal means. From these observations, teachers and counselors decide to work towards the endorsement so they can make a positive difference. In a gender comparison, for those not in the principalship, women saw more of a barrier in just not being able to get a job. Men saw inadequate money, the job itself and moving as primary barriers.