Principal Succession: Trends and Impacts



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This study addresses the critical issue of planning for principal succession and the need for transitional assistance as new leaders acquire the position. Principals are constantly being replaced, and many times by a leader who is inexperienced and has not had the leadership opportunities to develop their skills to the needed level (Fuller, 2009).The literature consistently shows that minimal time is spent in the planning for future principals (Fuller, 2009). Additionally, critical time spent between new principals and their supervisors may not happen to the extent that it should (Hargreaves, 2009). Ironically, however, the role of the principal is an undisputed key factor in both student and school success (Leithwood, 2004). Principals have great indirect impact on student achievement through the people, purpose, and goals of the school; through the structure of the school; and through the organizational culture of the campus (Hallinger, 1996). This qualitative survey uses open-ended questions and responses to supplement the research findings that show the need for principal succession. The data supports the literature inasmuch as finding the principal’s role to be a critical one, yet overwhelmingly unplanned for in the future. Effective succession management addresses the need for the recruitment, training, and on-going support of all school administrators (Hargreaves, 2003). However, both research and the survey indicate the often unmet need for specific guidance as new leaders emerge. These findings have implications for school districts in general, as well as for specific campus needs as a principal begins his or her tenure.



Principal succession