Wednesday, December 28, 2011


By J.D. Velasco, Staff Writer -  San Gabriel Valley News |

12/25/2011 06:04:21 AM PST :: As education budgets and staffing levels have shrunk in recent years, school principals are being asked to take on an increasing number of duties - some in areas in which they don't have much experience, a new survey suggests.

The recently released survey was conducted by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, a San Francisco-based think tank.

Its researchers surveyed more than 600 public-school principals across the state, asking them about their on-the-job experiences.

"This year's annual report concludes that today's California principals have more to do, less time to do it, and fewer sources of support," wrote the authors of the survey.

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11-2017/18

The Effects of Projected Retirement and Projected Changes in Student Enrollment Over Two-Year Increments

By: Anthony B. Fong, Reino Makkonen

view online/pdf

Brian McDonald, chief academic officer for Pasadena Unified, said the study's results hold true in his school district.

"I think that these findings pretty much jibe with what's going on in Pasadena," McDonald said. "Principals are definitely having to do more with less."

On average, school principals reported working 60 hours a week, with nearly 15 percent reporting that they work an average of 70 hours or more.

The center found that many of those principals are relatively new to their jobs. Slightly more than half of those surveyed said they had been a principal for five years or less.

Gary Rapkin, superintendent of Bonita Unified, said the percent of new principals was higher than he would have expected, but said it's a trend that will probably continue as more

baby boomers retire.

The survey also found that principals are increasingly being asked to spend time on non-educational tasks, particularly management of facilities, and developing budgets and schedules.

McDonald said all of those activities are chipping away at the amount of time principals can spend with teachers.

"We're asking them to be instructional leaders," he said. "But it's getting more and more difficult when they're having to do a lot of management issues."

A significant number of principals told researchers that they had little-to-no experience in those areas.

Two-thirds said they had "none or minimal" experience with developing a school budget prior to becoming a principal.

"It takes almost a CPA to try to navigate that whole process and how to squeeze blood from a turnip," McDonald said. "If they ask for that kind of assistance, we do have people in our budgeting department and our financing department who are always willing to help."

Slightly more than half said they lacked experience in managing their schools' physical facilities.

The same number said they lacked experience in raising funds for school programs and services.

The survey also found that many principals lacked experience in evaluating their teachers.

Nearly 40 percent of them reported having minimal experience performing formal teacher evaluations.

Debbie Kaplan, West Covina Unified superintendent, said evaluations are a pivotal part of what principals do. She said it's the responsibility of school districts to make sure their teachers are up to the task.

"I do believe that evaluations are the most important thing that principals do to provide support for teachers," Kaplan said.

Rapkin said districts will have to focus their efforts on coaching and training principals in parts of their jobs that colleges and universities can't train them for.

"When you have a fair number of new principals, you do need to invest more time in mentoring," he said.

Kaplan agreed, but worried that principals are not being left with enough time to spend on educational issues.

"I think, yes, we can train principals, but if we're taking away all their resources, we're forcing them to spend all their time on management issues," Kaplan said. "That's scary for me."

Rob Voors, superintendent of Glendora Unified, said the "most shocking thing" to him about the study is that many of its facts are now being considered "normal or acceptable."

"Perhaps we've become desensitized," he said.

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11–2017/18: The Effects of Projected Retirement and Projected Changes in Student Enrollment Over Two-Year Increments

This summary:

Full Report:

Methodologies: Descriptive

Principal Investigator

Tony Fong, Reino Makkonen

Regional Educational Laboratory West

Related Research

School-Site Administrators: A California County and Regional Perspective on Labor Market Trends

Related Resources

REL West Research Digest: October 2011

REL West Research Digest Spring 2011

Projecting the Need for California School Administrators Over 2010/11-2017/18

School-Site Administrators

Trends in California Teacher Demand: A County and Regional Perspective

This research study explores the differences among California's counties and regions in their needs for new school-site administrators (principals and vice principals), as driven by a combination of projected administrator retirements and projected student enrollment changes.

The study uses data from the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Department of Education Personnel Assignment Information Form (PAIF) to project the retirements of school-site administrators over 2010/11–2017/18.

To estimate the demand for school-site administrators due to projected changes in student enrollment, the authors used data from the California Department of Finance, which projected student enrollments at the county level through the 2017/18 school year. Projected demand for administrators due to both retirements and changes in student enrollment were done at the county level in four two-year increments from 2010/11–2017/18.

The study resulted in a report prepared by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd.

Research Questions

This study addresses the following three research questions:

  • By region, what percentage of 2007/08 school-site administrators are projected to retire in each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?
  • By region, how many new school-site administrators (as a percentage of the 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce) will be needed to offset projected changes in student enrollment for each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?
  • By region, how many new school-site administrators (as a percentage of the 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce) will be needed due to the combination of projected retirement and projected changes in student enrollment for each two-year period over 2010/11–2017/18?

Projected county-level administrator retirements were derived using five-year historical county- and age-specific retirement rates. To project future retirements, the actual number of school-site administrators in 2007/08 was taken from the PAIF dataset, and then the numbers of entering and retiring administrators were projected for each year over 2008/09–2017/18. Because the study's technical brief was published in 2011, only the projected retirements for the 2010/11–2017/18 period are reported.

Projected county-level demand for administrators for the 2010/11–2017/18 period was calculated by dividing the projected change in student enrollment during the period by the five-year (2003/04–2007/08) county-specific student-administrator ratio. Projected demand due to both administrator retirements and changes in student enrollment was then calculated by summing the two projections.

Key Findings or Outcomes
  • The Central Coast region has the highest projected administrator retirement rates over the four two-year periods in the study; for each two-year period, either Inland Empire or South San Joaquin Central Valley are projected to have the lowest.
  • Due to projected student enrollment growth, and assuming no change in ratios of students to administrators, many regions are expected to face a need for administrators that increases in each two-year period. Inland Empire is expected to have the most enrollment-driven growth compared with its 2007/08 school-site administrator workforce; South Coast is expected to need fewer administrators based on enrollment patterns.
  • The Bay Area is the only region in which combined retirement- and student enrollment-driven demand for school-site administrators is projected to fall. In all other regions, the need is expected to grow — particularly in Inland Empire, which can expect to need 42.2 percent more administrators over 2010/11–2017/18 than were employed in 2007/08. South Coast is expected to have, overall, the state's lowest projected need (17.4 percent).

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