A comparison of superintendents' perceptions of their role with an exemplary model of the superintendency
Since change in the schools requires the superintendent's leadership, this study was designed to examine what superintendents are actually doing and what they should be doing in this era of demand for school reform. It outlines the historical development of the superintendent's role and reviews the relevant research.An exemplary model of the superintendency was developed from the literature with input from educational administration experts. It contained thirty specific activities of the superintendent's role in six general categories and was the basis of two questionnaires sent to superintendents and principals in the State of Washington and to ten nationally known experts.The data collected allowed the construction of a profile of the school superintendent from different perspectives for comparison and analysis.Superintendents conclusively agreed that establishing mutual understanding and working relationships with the school board was the most critical activity of the role. They performed it personally, frequently, and were highly satisfied with their effectiveness in its achievement.They gave very low priority to curriculum and instruction activities, suggesting that teaching and learning were far from being their primary activities. They ranked low in importance, personal responsibility, frequency, and satisfaction. Superintendents spent more time on community relations activities than its importance ranking seemed to warrant. They focused inward on the organization, particularly in smaller districts and when in new assignments. In larger districts the demands of community involvement adversely impacted instruction and curriculum involvement. There was a clear, direct relationship between what superintendents considered important, did themselves, and with which they were satisfied.Superintendents tended to reflect the same values as the experts. Both groups gave high priority to school board and organizational activities, and low priority to instructional activities.Superintendents' perceptions differed dramatically from principals' perceptions of superintendents. Principals saw them as considerably more involved in improving educational opportunities and much less involved in school board activities, thus reflecting more closely their own ideal.The data suggests the need for considerable refocusing of superintendent priorities toward teaching and learning to meet the demands of the current reform movement. Proposals for change are included as implications of this study.
- Education - Seattle