Report: 42% of middle & high school principals plan to leave positions, citing working conditions

Nationwide study reflected in Sunshine State, union official says

File photo
File photo (2020 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A recently published research project found that 42% of school principals plan to exit their current jobs for different schools or alternate careers.

The study was conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Learning Policy Institute and involved a sample group of 424 secondary school principals. The Institute also hosted six focus groups with 33 school leaders from 26 states.

Participants cited working conditions and a lack of district support as the main concerns contributing to the principals looking at the door.

“Among principals planning to leave, many reported facing a heavy workload, more than twice the percentage of those planning to stay," the researchers wrote. "Over half of principals planning to leave noted that their district did not have effective strategies for retaining strong leaders, compared to just over one-quarter of those planning to stay.”

The study also suggested that administrators’ compensation is another reason that many in the position plan to abandon smaller, rural districts for more lucrative positions, in or out of the education field.

“Relatedly, principals planning to leave were more likely to report student loan debt from principal preparation,” the study said.

In the sunshine state, Dr. Eric Basilo, president-elect of the Florida Association of School Administrators, told News4Jax he wasn’t surprised by what the study found.

“Each year, it gets harder and harder as we get our hands tied with legislation, class size, not having the raises and not getting backed with our retirement and things," said Basilo, who also serves as an administrator at Sanford Middle School. “It does get more and more and more difficult. Add to that the accountability piece, we’re responsible for over 1,500 kids performing well on tests that they take one time, one day. So, that accountability adds an incredible amount of stress.”

The study also suggests some possible actions that can be taken to correct the retention problem, including attending to the working conditions and needs of effective principals in order to keep them on, supporting adequate and equitable compensation for deserving principals and providing principals with appropriate agency and support in decision making.

Review the full study can be reviewed at this link.