4 smart strategies to retain public school principals

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
November 13th, 2015

“Chicago’s Fight to Keep Top Principals” reflects survey results and insights of more than 400 principals

public-school-principalsMore than 40 percent of surveyed Chicago public school principals plan to leave their positions in the next 3 years, and 25 percent said they plan to leave within the next year–data suggesting that the city is losing its principals too soon, before they can effect change in their schools.

During a City Club of Chicago event downtown on Nov. 3, The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) released a comprehensive report on the state of principal quality in the city’s public schools.

The report, titled Chicago’s Fight to Keep Top Principals, is based on survey results from 423 principals within Chicago’s public schools, representing 65 percent of the city’s district-run and charter school principals.

While The Fund’s data suggest that principal performance peaks around year five, more than 60 percent of Chicago’s public school principals leave before that milestone.

“We are serious about providing world-class public schools for all of Chicago’s students, and we must keep working to create an environment that allows our best leaders to learn, grow and stay,” said Heather Y. Anichini, president and CEO of The Fund. “By listening to principal voices, we can make being a great principal in Chicago a realistic longer-term career.”

Key findings from the report include:
• While 74 percent of participating public school principals are satisfied or extremely satisfied in their roles, they also overwhelmingly say that their jobs are unsustainable.
• 40 percent or more feel unable to organize their school budget, school schedule or curriculum in ways that achieve their schools’ priorities.
• More than 70 percent of public school principals say reducing compliance is one of the top three ways to improve their job satisfaction, twice as many as those who mentioned increased compensation.

Next page: Reducing compliance for principals and other strategies