Principals are quitting school jobs. What does that mean for kids? – USA TODAY

About 1 in 10 public and private school principals nationwide left their jobs between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years – the first full school years after the pandemic began, new research published Monday shows. 
The data, from the National Center for Education Statistics, shows a greater number of school-level leaders leaving those roles than when the data was collected five years earlier, NCES statistician Julia Merlin said. And the turnover was most pronounced at schools that primarily serve students of color. 
The conclusions were drawn from nationally representative surveys of about 6,500 public school principals and about 1,800 private school principals.
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NCES said the data doesn’t capture exactly if or how COVID-19 played a role in principals’ decisions to leave that role or take the same job at another school. And the rate at which principals left their roles recently, while greater than five years earlier, is similar to what federal data shows in prior years the survey was conducted.
Nevertheless, it’s problematic.
“Principal attrition is higher in public schools than it was 5 years ago, and veteran public school leaders with more years of experience leave the profession at higher rates than those with less experience,” NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a statement. “Principals are critical supports for a school’s teachers and learners, and the country needs leaders in every school who are committed to the success of each student.”
While a lot of the attention has been on teachers leaving the profession during the pandemic, the mobility and turnover of principals can be very disruptive to students’ education and overall school improvement efforts and damaging to teacher retention and student achievement, the National Association of Secondary School Principals has said. And a review of research published late last year found that principals’ influence on student learning is likely far more significant than previously known.
‘Struggling to keep up’:Number of teachers quitting hits new high
The oldest, most experienced teachers were among the most likely to tell NCES researchers they were leaving their jobs, Merlin said. And schools where half or more of students were children of color had higher rates of principals departing their posts than schools where more students were white.
“This means that schools with the highest percentages of students of color saw more turnover in leadership between 2020-21 and 2021-22 than did schools with the lowest percentage of students of color enrollment,” she said. “These schools were dealing with the challenges of finding and hiring a new principal for the next school year.”

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