Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

W. Hal Knight

Committee Members

Judith Hammond, Louise L. MacKay, Russell F. West


In addition to licensure and certification, there are particular qualities and personal characteristics superintendents look for when hiring a principal. With fewer principal applicants and increased projected needs for principals, it was important to explore the superintendent's reasoning when hiring a principal.

A qualitative research method employing elite interviews was used to explore the criteria that superintendents employ in their process of selecting a principal. When talking about the hiring of principals, superintendents invariably began with the selection process. Teachers, community members, parents, former employers, and college professors gave input in formal or informal ways. Superintendents looked for experience both as a school administrator and as a teacher at the level of the school where the vacancy existed. Communication skills, decision-making, a sense of justice and fair play, a focus on community, and instructional leadership were qualities they considered important. Direct reference was not made to the Interstate School Leaders Licensing Consortium (ISLLC) Standards during interviews, however 48 of 182 indicators were touched upon during superintendent interviews.

Themes of communication, communities, and ethics emerged. Superintendents expressed concern because candidate pools had lessened and projected needs increased. They spoke of the factors that deter teachers from seeking principalships as being geographic location, principal responsibilities, accountability, and compensation.

There was not a one-size-principal-fits-all-schools attitude on the part of the superintendents. They looked for someone with administrative experience, an instructional focus, communication skills, and finely tuned decision-making skills. Principals needed to be able to relate to a diverse group of people, and have a sense of justice and fair play in dealings with all people. ISLLC Standards did not appear to have a profound influence on superintendents as they searched for individuals to serve as school leaders.

This study adds to development of a comprehensive knowledge base of information regarding qualities of individuals selected for principalships. It provides another framework for professional educators to enhance understanding of school leadership expectations. It may aid superintendents in decisions made regarding recruitment and selection of principals. It may aid researchers when evaluating use of ISLLC Standards in the selection of principals.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.