A decade since it last did so, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has again revealed the ever-changing characteristics of school administrators. The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study, released Dec. 8, is the latest report in a series that has been conducted every 10 years since 1923. The study, which electronically surveyed nearly 2,000 school superintendents nationwide, yielded surprising results in the demographics of superintendents, their changing responsibilities under federal guidelines, the influence of technology on their jobs and the educational environment, and where they see themselves in the coming years.
"This is a landmark study," said AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech following the study's release. "This report provides a clear view of how a key group of educators can make education work. We can use this data and its conclusions to improve the quality of our leaders."
One major finding is that the American superintendent is less likely to be male than ever before. In 10 years, the amount of female superintendents has jumped from 13 percent to 24 percent. The amount of minority superintendents, however, has only grown slightly, and minority respondents were more than twice as likely to report discrimination in their climb up the education ladder.
The role of the superintendent itself has changed, as well.
"Technology has raised the expectations for communications among key stakeholders and the community," said Ted Kowalski, co-author of the study and professor and Kuntz Family Chair of Educational Administration at the University of Dayton.
The explosion of technology is one factor influencing the changing roles of the superintendent. The federal government, says Kowalski, is another.
"Most are a little leery about both federal and state mandates—more so today than ever," says Kowalski. "There are more that believe No Child Left Behind is a liability than an asset."
According to Kowalski, superintendents are struggling to do more with fewer resources. This growing pressure—coupled with the aging demographic of superintendents nationwide—may be why 51 percent of respondents report they do not see themselves in this position by 2015.
This study, says Kowalski, provides a longitudinal profile on superintendents to allow school boards and researchers to gain a better understanding of their characteristics and the problems they encounter.
Copies of the study can be purchased at www.rowmaneducation.com.