A new report examines how the superintendency is changing.

Today’s school superintendents are more likely than they were 10 years ago to be women, and to be older—and nearly half are planning to retire in the next five years, according to a study released by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

“The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study” is based on a survey of nearly 2,000 superintendents from school districts across the U.S. It examines historical and contemporary perspectives on the superintendency, characteristics and demographics of superintendents and their districts, superintendents’ professional experiences and relationships with school boards, the nature of the school superintendent role itself, and the social and political climate in which a school superintendent works.

The survey suggests that a diverse knowledge of many subjects, including law, finance, and technology, is desirable for today’s superintendents, who face myriad challenges in leading the 21st-century school system.

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The work is one is a series of similar studies conducted every 10 years since 1923 and provides a national perspective about the roles and responsibilities of the contemporary school superintendent.

AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech said a superintendent can use the report as a benchmark to compare his or her job with other superintendents around the nation.

“The report is a thorough analysis of the work of the superintendent, focusing on issues, challenges, and concerns,” Domenech said.

It details important information such as “how much time is spent on various activities? What are the pluses and minuses of the many community stakeholders a superintendent interacts with? What skills prove most beneficial in getting the job done? How do superintendents relate to school board members?” he added.