ERIC Identifier: ED297481
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Klauke, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Educational Management Eugene OR.
Recruiting and Selecting Principals. ERIC Digest Series Number
It is predicted that half of all current U.S. principals will retire within
the next four or five years. Aware of the difference effective leadership can
make, many school districts are reviewing unsystematic hiring practices that
have emphasized image over skill, and are beginning to embrace a more
comprehensive and well-thought-out principal recruitment and selection process.
WHAT CRITERIA SHOULD SCHOOL DISTRICTS CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A PRINCIPAL?
A list of competencies for principals recommended
by a National Association of Secondary School Principals' task force includes
problem analysis, organizational ability, decisiveness, effective communication
skills, and stress tolerance.
In addition to traditional requirements such as these, personal qualities
must also be given consideration to counter what Richard Ihle (1987) calls a
disturbing trend "toward greater weight being given to academic credentials."
The NASSP has developed a statement of ethics for principals that recognizes
their important professional leadership role in the school and community.
Principals must articulate a vision and values that they can use to transform
or revitalize a school's atmosphere, according to the Office of Educational
Research and Improvement's Principal Selection Guide (1987). They should be
determined, creative, and enthusiastic--willing and able to confront problems
and seek out opportunities to inspire their school communities toward beneficial
change. This growth needs to occur, Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker (1987)
state, through empowerment rather than coercion, by "delegating, stretching the
ability of others and encouraging educated risk." The principal must be the
catalyst and champion of school improvement.
HOW CAN RECRUITMENT PRACTICES FACILITATE IDENTIFICATION OF PROMISING CANDIDATES?
Early identification and encouragement of
potential candidates, especially teachers who show promise of administrative
ability, Ihle (1987) says, would reduce the tendency for self-selection or the
hiring of "good paper." To ensure greater consistency of recruitment goals and
practices, a written policy should be developed by a trained search committee.
"Applications, transcripts, references, interviews, and assessment data,"
Mark Anderson (1988) claims, can help determine an applicant's level and range
of competency. Broadening the search committee to include parents, teachers,
students, and community members, and circulating surveys for input on desirable
principal traits, would give everyone a sense of participation in the selection
of a new principal.
WHAT INNOVATIVE STEPS ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TAKING TO RECRUIT PROSPECTIVE PRINCIPALS?
To expand their pools of qualified
applicants, school districts are resorting to indistrict training programs,
career ladders, and internships, as well as outside recruitment. For example, in
1987 Oregon's David Douglas School District began its STAR (Selecting and
Training Administrative Recruits) program, which identifies and trains "prospective principals from within the district's teacher corps," according to
Anderson. Instructional units, taught by experienced district administrators,
precede a weeklong practicum designed by each participant. Interested candidates
then complete internships that are interspersed with workshops in educational
Another district described by Anderson provides a full-time internship as an
assistant to the superintendent in order to expose prospective principals to
real-life administrative situations. Extended internships (six months to one
year) provide valuable experience for candidates and additional information for
selectors. Long-term internships also enable both parties in the selection
process to make a more informed decision.
HOW CAN THE SELECTION BE FAIR AND COMPREHENSIVE?
selection process, a trained, diverse team should consider information gathered
from many sources, says Anderson (1988), and ask every candidate "the same,
predetermined, and well-thought-out questions." Anderson adds that "effective
interviews include simulations, written exercises, and situational questions."
One school district asks applicants to compose half-page essays answering
challenging, pertinent questions, including "What processes will you employ in
moving a school organization toward your envisioned change?" and "What are some
key descriptors of leadership and management?"
At assessment centers sponsored by NASSP, participants engage in activities
designed to simulate typical school situations. Exercises may include leaderless
groups, fact-finding, stress tests, and personal interviews. Assessment center
results not only guide potential employers, but also help prospective principals
select internships and graduate courses based on a greater awareness of their
personal strengths and weaknesses.
Later, followup orientation and evaluation procedures can assist new
principals in becoming increasingly proficient at their jobs.
WHAT WOULD ENSURE GREATER REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION?
David Coursen and others
(forthcoming) assert that "the extent to which women and minorities participate
in administering the schools is one measure of education's real commitment to
the ideal of equal opportunity." Children identify with role models of their
same sex and race who hold leadership positions. Moreover, negative stereotypes
begin to break down when a variety of persons assume influential roles. Thus it
is crucial to ensure the participation of underrepresented populations in
A 1987-88 survey by C. Emily Feistritzer reveals that as few as 6 percent of
principals are black, that 24 percent are women, and that these individuals
typically lead marginal or troublesome schools. The National Commission on
Excellence in Educational Administration recommends identifying promising
minority and women candidates; providing scholarships, fellowships, and
financial aid; and monitoring affirmative action compliance more closely.
Establishment of affirmative action as a high priority could lead to greater
numbers of women and minorities filling the role of principal.
Anderson, Mark E. HIRING CAPABLE PRINCIPALS: HOW
SCHOOL DISTRICTS RECRUIT, GROOM, AND SELECT THE BEST CANDIDATES. Eugene: Oregon School Study Council, May 1988. 37 pages. ED number not yet
Baltzell, Catherine D., and Robert A. Dentler. SELECTING AMERICAN SCHOOL
PRINCIPALS: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Abt Associates, Inc.,
1983. 15 pages. ED 239 421.
Cornett, Lynn M. THE PREPARATION AND SELECTION OF SCHOOL PRINCIPALS. Atlanta
Southern Regional Education Board, 1983. 20 pages. ED 231 052.
Coursen, David, and others. In SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: HANDBOOK FOR EXCELLENCE,
2nd ed., edited by Stuart C. Smith and Philip K. Piele. Eugene, Oregon: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Educational Management, University of Oregon, forthcoming.
DuFour, Richard, and Robert Eaker. "The Principal as Leader: Two Major
Responsibilities." NASSP BULLETIN 71, 500 (September 1987): 80-89. EJ 359 335.
Feistritzer, C. Emily. PROFILE OF WOMEN ADMINISTRATORS IN THE US. Washington,
D.C.: National Center for Educational Information, 1988. 96 pages.
Ihle, Richard. "Defining the Big Principal--What Schools and Teachers Want in
Their Leaders." NASSP BULLETIN 71, 500 (September 1987): 94-98. EJ 359 337.
National Association of Secondary School Principals. PERFORMANCE-BASED
PREPARATION OF PRINCIPALS. Reston, Virginia: NASSP, 1985. 38 pages. ED 257 211.