Succession to school leadership: challenge and response for principals
MetadataShow full item record
Between 1998 and 2000, seventy principals were named in the Austin Independent School District to succeed other principals. Several schools had two or more principals in that period. Not only is there an immediate cost when a principal is not successful, but there is also a cost associated with repair or replacement. Knowing what is necessary in the induction experience to make a principal succeed is critical. We have an obligation to these principals, their teachers, the taxpayers, and most of all, the students, to maximize their success. This study explored the experiences of elementary principals in the Austin Independent School District who recently succeeded other principals. Issues addressed included the principals' perceptions of their experiences and the impact of those experiences on their effectiveness. Findings will be offered as recommendations that may better inform principals who step into the succession role in the district. Questionnaires were sent to elementary principals named between 1998 and 1999 and still in those same schools in 2001-2002. Based on responses, principals were invited to participate in focus groups. Based on written responses and participation in focus groups, three principals were selected as case studies. Data revealed that succession principals had positive experiences including communication with others, establishment of procedures and routines, relationship building, and knowledge of district policies and procedures. Negative experiences included the effects of prior school leadership, challenging relationships, communication issues, and lack of support. As a result of these experiences, principals developed inner strength and powerful relationships with peers. It was recommended that support for succession principals continue beyond the induction year and include: trained mentors; time to dialogue with mentors and peer principals; quick responses to questions or requests for support; and receipt, early in the process, of critical information regarding role definition, expectations, district policies, and district procedures. Recommendations for further study included: investigating the succession experiences of secondary principals; comparing the succession experiences of principals named from within the district to those named from outside the district; and studying the relationship between the rate of principal retention and teacher retention.
Berry, Brenda Anne Russell (2006). Succession to school leadership: challenge and response for principals. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from