School Principal Turnover Increases

The job of school principal is such an important one and has historically been a coveted position. But new reports show that over half of all school principals leave their jobs within three years. That raises the tough question of why this is happening.

Many people wonder if it really matters that principals are leaving their jobs. The fact is that principals and teachers have a strong impact on student achievement. New research shows that students simply learn better when they have a stable environment in which to learn. Keeping principal turnover low year in and year out does actually make a difference in how well students learn.

School administrator standing outside the bus loading spot

School principals and administrators set the tone for how a school develops. They outline the programs each year that will best help students to learn. And these kids are our future. If we can give them stable environments in which to thrive, then we give ourselves the gift of a more prosperous tomorrow. This makes it more important than ever to understand why principals and teachers leave their jobs.

Associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Houston, Bradley Davis, has some enlightening ideas about why principals are leaving their jobs. He comments:

“It’s not enough to understand the frequency of the turnover; it needs to be prevented. Principals aren’t just leaving,” he said. “We have folks retiring. We have folks leaving the public school system altogether. We have folks going back to other campus-level positions, some folks transfer to a different district, some folks transfer within the district, and some folks are promoted to higher levels.”

The Top 3 Reasons Why School Principals Leave Their Positions.

Job Burnout

The number one reason cited for principal turnover was burnout. This is a familiar scenario for those involved in public and private education. Teachers, principals and even administrators eventually get weary dealing with the same issues year in and year out. There are too many budget cuts, or the stress of trying to run a good business piles up. It’s common now for teachers to be purchasing supplies for their class out of their own pocket. In spite of all the publicity, there is still inadequate funding in most school districts. It’s easy to see how teachers and principals might decide to move on to a different profession.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction was another big factor in principal turnover. In recent surveys, a number of principles said that they simply did not enjoy their work anymore. We all need to feel good about getting up and going to work each day. It can be stressful to work at a job where you don’t really feel you’re making a difference.

Not Enough Money

The third leading reason for principal turnover is salary. So many of those interviewed said that, with their level of education, they felt they should be earning a lot more money. Though teaching can be a rewarding job, at the end of the day, we all have rent and bills to pay. Too many teachers and principals have disparaging things to say about their paychecks. Many of us probably would change professions if we could find something rewarding that paid 30% more. Those are some hard facts of life that must be considered.


Why It’s Important to Know Why

If we can understand why principals and teachers are leaving their jobs, then perhaps we can begin to address these problems and fix them. Our school system needs dedicated people who are there for the right reasons. Students learn more and become more productive citizens when they can get a good education. So this is worth our time and trouble to figure out. It is a puzzle that can be solved. It is a riddle with an answer. It’s just up to us, to our society, to place more importance on education.

There are so many ways that we could improve our educational systems and create a better learning environment for our students, teachers and principals.

Bradley Davis has one final word for us: “We can prevent turnover in a number of ways…But at the end of the day, turnover is inevitable. Folks leave jobs in every profession; so I think that the larger body of research effort and funding needs to make a shift toward the other end of the research pipeline.”

principal loving their job

Last Updated on:

Join our newsletter!

Sign up to receive:

  • New blog posts
  • Tips and tricks to automate your admin work
  • Only once a month!