Characteristics, preparation, expectations, and opportunities affecting the career decisions of educators with administrative certification

Steven R Schlanger, Fordham University


It has been well documented that at a time when principals are retiring in record numbers from our nation's public schools, there is a shrinking pool of candidates waiting in line to replace them. Although previous research has tended to focus on the factors that are contributing to this mass exodus (stress, long hours, a longer work year, modest remuneration, a highly charged political atmosphere), this study was an attempt to learn more about the characteristics, preparation, expectations, opportunities, and career decisions of those individuals willing to become principals at a time when so few seem to want the position. In order to gain insight about these unique individuals and subsequently to learn how to attract quality candidates to the principalship, this study employed a qualitative research methodology in which data were collected from 9 active leaders (principals in their first or second years) and 9 latent leaders (those with administrative certification who elected not to become principals) in various elementary, middle, and high schools in Putnam, Westchester, and Rockland counties in New York State. It was determined that individuals new to the principalship are driven by a deeply felt sense of a mission and that they assumed their positions believing profoundly in its importance and its impact on society. It was also learned that there is an expectation for perfection placed upon principals, that people expect them to perform at ideal and, at times, unrealistic levels. In this study, it was also confirmed that leadership preparatory programs must be more authentic, practical, and meaningful for aspiring principals and that mentors and cohort groups are essential for active leaders to survive and succeed. Finally, it was noted that all leaders, active or latent, struggle to strike a balance between family priorities and professional endeavors.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Schlanger, Steven R, "Characteristics, preparation, expectations, and opportunities affecting the career decisions of educators with administrative certification" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3272638.