The High Cost of Principal Turnover

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The turnover rate for school principals is among the worst of any industry in the country—coming in fourth behind mining and logging, retail, and leisure and hospitality. This problem, known as “churn,” is costing schools a lot in terms of money spent bringing new principals onboard—at least $75,000 per hire—and is having a negative impact on academic achievement among students, especially in the lowest performing schools where the turnover is greatest. These are among the findings of a new study conducted by the nonprofit School Leaders Network (SLN). 

“What's great about this report is that it calls out the need to better support principals,” said LaVerne Srinivasan, Carnegie Corporation of New York’s acting vice president of Education Programs. “With principals, there has been an inordinate amount of focus on the process of filling these positions–the pipeline and preparation of candidates—compared to helping existing principals be more effective and maintain their will and capacity to stay in the position.”

Srinivasan serves on the board of directors of SLN, whose mission includes the creation of professional development networks for school principals. “CHURN: The High Cost of Principal Turnover ” found that half of new principals quit in their third year on the job and over time, such disruption even diminishes the earning potential of students, which translates into a lower tax base for the community. The study also concludes that the job of being a principal can be complex and isolating, and that school leaders lack the ongoing support and development required to maintain and foster a long—term commitment from principals.

Download the report to read more including recommendations on how to prevent churn.

Hear more from the Corporation’s LaVerne Srinivasan as part of a panel discussion on "CHURN: The High Cost of Principal Turnover."

On Nov 6, 2014 in Washington DC, the School Leaders Network organized a panel discussion with Betsy Arons, CEO, Urban Schools Human Capital Academy; Richard Barth, CEO, KIPP; Jean-Claude Brizard, President, UpSpring Education Group; and LaVerne Srinivasan, Acting Director, National Program, Carnegie Corporation of New York. The moderator was Sara Mead, Principal, Policy and Thought Leadership, Bellwether Education Partners.