Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover

Posted by School Leaders Network on November 10, 2014

The many costs of principal churn

A new report from the School Leaders Network indicates that schools, students, and teachers bear significant, unnecessary costs from principal churn because little is done to offer principals reasonable support after their second year. The report highlights critical education resources, disruptions to classrooms, and weakened student-learning opportunities that occur because principals leave jobs at a rate higher than nearly all other white-collar professions. Research shows that a minimal reduction in principal-turnover rates could save districts $163 million annually. Keeping the same school leaders in place for years has positive effects on student achievement, particularly at high-poverty schools, since principals constitute ¼ of total school influence affecting student outcomes. The negative effects of high principal turnover are evident a year after a vacancy, and it can take the next principal up to three years to regain positive momentum in math and English language arts performance. Moreover, it takes an average of five years to put a vision in place, improve teaching staff, and fully implement policies and practices that positively impact a school’s performance. The report calls upon decision-makers and funders to value and prioritize principal retention as much as principal pipeline development.

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