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Leadership Recruitment & Succession

**Schmidt-Davis, J. & Bottoms, G. (2011). Who’s next? Let’s stop gambling on school performance and plan for principal succession. Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board. Available at

Each year one-fifth of the country’s public school principals leave their jobs. This high level of turnover is linked to weakened school culture, disjointed school improvement efforts, and lower student achievement. This report argues for effective succession planning for principals as an essential step in promoting high quality leadership and slowing turnover. The authors outline necessary conditions for effectively planning for principal succession, including a clear definition of the competencies required in principals and a state policy that supports and encourages succession planning. The authors conclude with a six-step conceptual framework for succession planning, which requires 1) talent identification; 2) talent development; 3) selection for placement; 4) onboarding and support; 5) evaluation—of  both leaders and the succession planning process — and continuous improvement based on these evaluations; and  6) continuously engaging new leaders to grow other teacher leaders as possible successors .

The New Teacher Project. (2006, September). Improved principal hiring: The New Teacher Project’s findings and recommendations for urban schools. Brooklyn, NY: Author. Available at

This paper investigates the challenges urban school districts face in finding qualified candidates to serve as principals. Specifically, the piece argues that the shortage of high quality applicants is further compounded by flaws in both the selection and evaluation processes. To combat these problems, the paper outlines a process for selecting replacements for site leaders that begins early by identifying and planning for leadership vacancies, while developing a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants. The most effective hiring process, according to the brief, involve targeted internal and external recruitment and basic eligibility screening, followed by district competency screening based on an objective set of criteria for leadership, and, finally, an assessment of the candidate’s fit with the school‘s individual needs.

Clifford, M. (2012, January). Hiring quality school leaders: Challenges and emerging practices. Naperville, IL: American Institutes for Research. Available at

This literature review describes the expectations for a new generation of school leaders and outlines specific barriers that districts face and strategies they should considers as they look to fill vacant leadership positions. New leaders, according to the author, need to not only effectively manage students, staff, and grounds, but also build professional communities. Barriers to finding these leaders that are embedded in the hiring process include effectively gauging a candidate’s leadership ability and having ill-prepared hiring committees The author concludes with recruitment and selection practices to address these challenges, including: preparing for succession; setting hiring priorities based on school and district goals; and meaningfully engaging stakeholders in the hiring process.

**This document is considered a priority reading.