Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership


Theory and research surrounding the issue o f longevity of superintendents seemed contradictory in the literature. On the one hand, the average length of time a superintendent serves in his/her position has not changed noticeably over the last few decades. Yet many researchers were reporting a crises in this field because the applicant pool seemed to be shrinking and longevity of superintendents in large urban districts was reported to be lower than the average longevity rate of 5-6 years. In addition the perception of many of the superintendents in the field was that the turnover rate of superintendents was on the increase. This research looked at superintendents in Michigan to determine if there were potential risk and protective factors for longevity. A 41 question survey was sent to all the superintendents in Michigan (n=524) with a return rate of 64.5%. This survey included variables that were described in the literature as having a potential to influence longevity of superintendents. Longevity was defined by two criterion variables: (1) stayers, and (2) leavers. The stayers were those superintendents who had been in their current position longer than six years. The leavers were those superintendents who had been in their current position six years or less. The predictor variables were formed from the questions on the survey, and were clustered into three groups: (1) Superintendent Factors, (2) School District Factors, and (3) School Board Factors. Six research questions were addressed through stepwise logistic analysis. The results indicated nine variables that were significant at the .10 confidence level. The Superintendent Factors that were protective for longevity included:
• The length of time the superintendent lived within 25 miles of his/her position,
• The length of time the superintendent spent in a previous position,
• Leaving the past position for family considerations,
• The outcome of the last evaluation,
• The existence of additional retirement benefits in the salary package,
• The age of the superintendent
The Superintendent Factor that was a risk for longevity was the micromanagement of the board as that inhibits the superintendent’s effectiveness. The School District Factor that was protective for longevity was moving from a suburban district to a suburban district. There were no School District Factors that were a risk for longevity. Nor were there any School Board Factors that were protective for longevity. The School Board Factor that was a risk for longevity was the quality o f the relationship between the superintendent and the school board.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access