Highsuperintendent turnover is an issue that plagues entire states, not justindividual school systems. California recently experienced staggeringsuperintendent turnover rates with 71 percent of superintendents in the largestdistricts and 45 percent of those in the smallest districts leaving their jobsbetween 2006 and 2009, according to a 2012 survey. School districts were askedto provide internal and external strategies used to retain district officepersonnel, especially the superintendent. The researcher employed professionaldevelopment surveys, interviews, and qualitative case study. Increasingsuperintendent salary may be a worthwhile strategy for retainingsuperintendents, and may be especially important in smaller and rural districtsand districts with lower student achievement whose superintendents are morelikely to move to higher paying positions in larger, higher performingdistricts in more urban areas.
SuperintendentTurnover in a 2007 study, sponsored by the American Association of SchoolAdministrators, Glass and Franceschini (2007) determined that the succession of10,000 to 11,000 superintendents would be occurring across the country. Theresearchers also found, in a Market Data Retrieval report, that a 17%superintendent turnover rate was recorded in 2006. The superintendents whoparticipated in the study reported that 80% of the districts do not haveprograms that address the replacing of the leadership positions and identificationof individuals that would desire to be in the top position. A study byKowalski, McCord, Peterson, Young, and Ellerson (2011) found that over half of1,829 participants did not intend to serve as a permanent superintendent withinthat next 5-year timeframe. In addition, a study by Sharp (2011) determinedthat superintendent succession was occurring due to an aging population ofpracticing superintendents. Although some of the studies were slightly dated,the referenced research identifies the necessity for a reduction insuperintendent succession and the need for in depth research.
Thereis disparage in the amount of research and literature written about ruralsuperintendent turnover. Far too often, the rural superintendent is only valuedin the community and school districts they serve. State departments ofeducation, school boards would do well to collect more data and conductlongitude studies about rural superintendents.
The importance ofthe district superintendent and the potential consequences of superintendentexits make understanding the factors that drive superintendent turnover a keytopic for empirical research. Lamentably, however, superintendent turnoverlacks a well-developed research base (Natkin et al., 2002). Existing researchhas primarily taken the form of qualitative explorations of turnovermotivations through case studies and interviews with superintendents. Fewstudies have focused on empirically testing the relative strength ofassociations between superintendent turnover and characteristics of thesuperintendents, districts, and school boards with whom they work. Moreover,studies have not examined how these predictors might vary with the type ofturnover.