Thursday, December 02, 2010

STUDY LOOKS AT TURNOVER IN CHARTER PRINCIPALS: "You’re Leaving? Sustainability and Succession in Charter Schools"

Report Roundup by By Mary Ann Zehr in Ed Week |

December 1, 2010 -- Seventy-one percent of charter school leaders say they plan to leave their schools within five years, raising questions about the stability of the culture of those schools, according to a report released last month by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

The rate of turnover of leadership is based on a 2007 survey, which had 400 respondents who were charter school leaders in six states.

Download Full Report (PDF: 1476 K)

The report says that the country has about 5,000 charter schools, which are public schools permitted to operate more independently than traditional public schools, and about 400 new ones are expected to open each year.

The turnover rate for leaders of charter schools is similar to, or lower than, the rate for traditional public school principals, according to the report. But its author, Christine Campbell, a researcher at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, contends that the uniqueness of many charter schools makes them more vulnerable to instability with a change in leadership. That's because of the importance of finding a leader who is a good fit with the culture of the school and the inability of charter schools to tap into a pool of candidates for hiring as easily as traditional public schools can.

The report also provides several recommendations for how charter schools can prevent educational disruption with a change of leadership. It says that current school leaders should be preparing people to have the capacity to be next in line for leadership. It recommends that governing boards actively recruit new leaders. The report also calls for charter schools to borrow management strategies from the nonprofit sector.

from CRPE’s website: CRPE’s research finds that many charter schools are unprepared when it comes to leadership turnover. Only half of the charter school leaders surveyed for this study reported having succession plans in place, and many of those plans are weak. Though most school leaders affiliated with charter management organizations (CMOs) reported that their school had a succession plan, there was some confusion as to who would make final decisions—school leaders or CMO leaders. For the few schools with strong plans, two elements were common: the school leaders (all with prior business experience) had taken charge of future plans, and these schools were not in the midst of crisis.

This report concludes with important steps charter schools can take to stabilize a school and better position it to choose the best possible leader. Specifically:

  • Charter schools can learn about effective succession management strategies from the nonprofit sector.
  • Governing boards need to own one of their most important duties: recruiting and selecting school leaders.
  • Authorizers should request strategic plans and emergency leadership replacement plans as part of the application and renewal process.
  • Current school leaders need to mentor next-in-line leaders and leadership team members.
  • Leaders should consider succession management—an emergency replacement plan, a strategic plan, and strategic development of leadership capacities organization-wide.

No comments: