CHURN: The High Cost of Principal Turnover

“CHURN: The High Cost of Principal Turnover” shows America’s schools, students and teachers are bearing significant, unnecessary costs from heightened principal turnover – or churn – because little is being done to provide principals with reasonable support after their second year in the position.  The report is the first to reveal the litany of losses – including critical education resources, disruptions to classrooms and weakened student learning opportunities – that are occurring because America’s principals leave their jobs at a rate higher than nearly all other white-collar professions.

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CHURN calls on funders and decision-makers to challenge the myth that creating a strong principal pipeline deserves the bulk of attention and resources, citing research that shows:

  • A minimal reduction in principal turnover rates could save U.S. school districts $163 million annually.
  • Keeping the same school leaders in place for years has positive effects on student achievement, particularly at high-poverty schools, as principals constitute ¼ of the total school influence affecting a child’s academic performance.
  • The negative effect of high principal turnover on student performance reveals itself the year after the vacancy, and it can take the next principal up to three years to regain positive momentum in math and English language arts performance.
  • Positive results occur when dedicated leaders invest in schools over multiple years, and that continuity produces better learning opportunities for students and best supports teachers.
  • It takes an average of five years to put a vision in place, improve the teaching staff and fully implement policies and practices that positively impact the school’s performance

Over the next several weeks School Leaders Network will continue to offer blog postings and other supporting documentation regarding Churn. Please follow our blog at:

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