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Directors may be unhappy. That doesn’t mean they’re leaving

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While directors may be unhappy with tight budgets and other cost-cutting measures, dissatisfaction with these things doesn’t necessarily make them think about leaving.

But the lack of teachers and substitutes – a big problem for schools and districts this year – could force them to quit, he said. new paper published this month.

The document by Julia H. Kaufman and Melissa K. Diliberty of RAND Corporation and Lori S. Hamilton of the Educational Testing Service is based on a survey of a group of principals collected in the spring of 2020, when almost every school in the country stopped personal learning. most districts returned to full-time training, but changed several training regimes as the level of COVID-19 infection at the local level increased and decreased.

The newspaper adds some nuances to the conversation about the impending departure of school leaders. It is also an opportunity for district leaders to assess working conditions for principals and allocate resources such as mental health and other support tools to address the stress and dissatisfaction expressed by school leaders, Kaufman said.

Half of the directors surveyed in the fall of 2020 said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they were not as enthusiastic about work as when they first started, and 43 percent said they would resign for higher pay . according to the paper. Another 27 percent said “stress and frustration” were not worth it. In the Kaufman poll, those numbers were noticeably higher than in the federal poll before the pandemic in the 2015-16 school year. And about 21 percent of principals in Kaufman’s study said they plan to quit at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Is the growing dissatisfaction of directors with quitting smoking?

“It’s a question of $ 1 million,” Kaufman said, noting the connection between people being dissatisfied with their work and actually leaving.
“If you were more dissatisfied with your work, you probably wouldn’t be doing your job either. Their dissatisfaction is growing, [principals] they are probably not so good at their job either. ”

Intention against reality

Various polls suggest that pandemic conditions and political and social divisions over the past two years may push directors away from the profession. Thirty-eight percent of the directors who responded to Fr. Survey of the National Association of High School Principals released in December 2021, said they plan to leave work over the next three years.

But there are signs that the K-12 education sector is not experiencing an outflow of staff, even if schools have difficulty finding staff. National data is resting for several years.

Data from two states that were analyzed by the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University show that, at least in 2020-21, the first full year of the pandemic, core staff turnover was lower than last academic year before the pandemic and the national average of the main trade.

In Massachusetts, core turnover actually fell to 12.8 percent in 2020-21 from 19 percent in 2018-19.

In Colorado, the turnover of principals increased to 15.8 percent in the 2020-21 academic year after falling in the 2019-20 academic year. This is still below the level of staff turnover in the 2018-19 academic year.

Chad Aldemann, director of policy at Edunomics Lab, which analyzed government data on principal turnover and investigated the destruction of teachers during the pandemic, said the same could be true for principals and teachers: they feel stressed but don’t necessarily leave their work. jobs in historical figures.

Aldeman also noted that current data does not reflect whether turnover is increasing this year. However, he said, the rise in discontent “is not good news”.

“This may be a problem we need to address for mental health professionals; but this may not necessarily lead to the same turnover rate as the results of the polls, ”he said.

Deficit leads to dissatisfaction

Researchers believed that the needs of principals would decrease when schools return to personal learning in the fall of 2020. Instead, they found that the needs of self-reported principals grew in all directions when asked about things like high-quality materials and teacher training.

And, with the exception of teacher vacancies, the increase in perceived demand between the spring semester and the fall semester corresponded to a rise in job dissatisfaction. More dissatisfaction with the work was expressed by the principals of distance schools.

Although budget constraints increased directors ’dissatisfaction, they could not predict the director’s intention to leave.

But principals said there were not enough resources – for example, for more social and emotional learning materials – and the lack of teachers and substitutes was indeed in line with the intention to leave.

“If you ask principals if they have a smaller school budget, they’ll say, ‘Yes, it’s unpleasant.’ But that doesn’t lead them to “I’m leaving,” Kaufman said. “But the lack of teachers and substitutes, in particular, foretold the intention to leave.”

In those schools where there was an acute shortage, there may be other factors, she said.

“It’s clear that if you have a shortage of teachers or substitutes, something else may be going on at the school that predicts that shortage,” Kaufman said.

Understanding the root causes of principal dissatisfaction and addressing them, including providing mental health assistance to principals, rethinking talent channels, and restructuring how substitutes are hired and maintained in schools and counties, can significantly prevent a potential outcome, Kaufman said. .

Prolonged dissatisfaction could lead to directors leaving, Kaufman said

“It’s always been a conclusion for us: that it can still be,” Kaufman said. “I think now we need to assess what dissatisfaction looks like to see if it is still very high. If it is still very high, then I agree that this meeting of directors will definitely take place. “

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