Mobility of assistant principals: Examining their roles, accomplishments, and aspirations

Carole-Ann Sheils Dunleavy, Fordham University


The central question of this dissertation was whether assistant principals aspired to the principalship, or had plateaued in their career. This arose from the dearth of research on the assistant principal in the literature on educational leadership. An original survey was distributed through SAANYS, the School Administrators Association of New York State. Key dependent variables in the design of the study were role satisfaction, efficacy, and career goals. In addition, relationships with the principal, teachers, parents and students were examined, as were the responsibilities of the assistant. Through these assistant principals' responses, a profile of those most likely to be principal aspirants was developed. Female, elementary assistant, under age 50, were more likely to aspire to the principalship than their male, secondary, over 50 colleagues. Most importantly, assistant principals indicated the sense of the validity of their work was a highly significant correlate to their aspirations to the principalship. Several suggestions are offered for future research, including a longitudinal study that would demonstrate the approach assistant principals took to arrive at the principalship. Using qualitative methodology, studies shadowing individual principals could provide a broader perspective on the principal's daily challenges. Implications for practice are also made, especially to increase the variety of the activities of the assistant principal to assure a greater sense of validity. Where possible an exchange program between assistant principals at different levels would expand their knowledge base, giving them a greater understanding of the principal's role.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Dunleavy, Carole-Ann Sheils, "Mobility of assistant principals: Examining their roles, accomplishments, and aspirations" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3420959.