Date of Graduation

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Ed Bengston

Committee Member

James Christman

Second Committee Member

Carleton Holt

Keywords

Education; Superintendent Kansas; Superintendent longevity; Superintendent tenure; Superintendent turnover; United States

Abstract

This study aims to illuminate the factors that may impact a superintendent’s longevity in the same district. Specifically, this study is motivated by four research questions: (1) What factors do superintendents in Kansas attribute to remaining in the same position greater than six years? (2) What factors do superintendents in Kansas attribute as the causes for leaving a district? (3) What is the current level of satisfaction of Kansas school superintendents within their current roles? and (4) What are some changes in policy or practice that may increase superintendent longevity in Kansas?

According to Dale Dennis, Kansas Deputy Commissioner of Education, the 2016-2017 school year had the greatest amount of superintendent turnover in Kansas history. The average tenure of a Kansas superintendent in recent years has hovered around the five to six-year mark. Frequent turnover of superintendents can negatively impact student achievement, staff morale, and long-term reform efforts. Selecting a new chief executive impacts the district’s resources, both time and money.

This explanatory mixed methods study began with a Superintendent Turnover Survey Questionnaire. The electronic survey was distributed to 284 Kansas superintendents in the spring of 2016. The results from 129 superintendents that completed the questionnaire were thoroughly analyzed. Based on demographic and experiential differences, eight superintendents were then selected and interviewed to further explain the data found in the survey.

The results from this study found that the majority of superintendents remain in the same district for several years due to the fact that they have positive connections to the board of education, staff, and community. Family connections to the school or region also have an enormous amount of influence as well. Most Kansas superintendents are satisfied with their job, with primary dissatisfaction coming in the areas of politics, outside influences, and a lack of human and fiscal resources.

Based on the results of this study, policy and practice recommendations are made. Such recommendations include; professional development of superintendents and board members, changes in retirements laws, salary commensurate with responsibilities, and growing support structures for superintendents.