CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 1, 2000
UI study shows schools seeks administrators with leadership, communication
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Aspiring principals, take note: School districts from
across the country are seeking accomplished educators, instructional leaders
with vision and passion, skilled communicators and technology wizards.
And while telephone interviews and writing samples are part of their selection
process, district administrators say the resume and cover letter, letters
of recommendation and reference checks are among the most important tools
for screening applicants.
These are just some of the findings of "Selecting New Administrators
for Tomorrow's Schools," the results of a survey of school districts
in 49 states by the University of Iowa College of Education. Lead authors
Rebecca Anthony, director of the UI College of Education Placement Office,
and Gerald Roe, associate director, were assisted by Michelle Young, a former
assistant professor in the college's Division of Planning, Policy and Leadership
Young said the report comes at a critical time in education. More and more
states are raising standards for principals and other school administrators
while the number of people available to fill these critical roles is declining.
"We decided to do this in response to all the discussion of the leadership
crisis and how there are so many positions that are going to be opening up
over the next few years," said Young, who left the UI Aug. 1 for a position
with a research consortium based at the University of Missouri.
Anthony said the study benefits three major groups: hiring officials and
school boards, candidates and others preparing to be administrators, and educators
and institutions such as the University of Iowa that train and advise future
The survey was co-sponsored by the educational placement offices of the
University of Wisconsin-Madison and Indiana University, who -- together with
the UI -- make up the Educational Placement Consortium. It asked school executives
and human resources personnel in urban, small city, suburban and rural districts
about their selection processes, specifically what they look for in candidates
and what they find.
As the authors of the survey found, the two don't always match up. Fewer
than 50 percent of the job candidates brought in for interviews were considered
well-prepared for the process, according to urban, small city, rural and suburban
For instance, while districts said they most desire candidates with strong
communication skills and leadership abilities, these were the areas in which
candidates most often tripped up during the interview. A majority of respondents
said candidates "hadn't thought through their beliefs on leadership"
(61 percent), demonstrated "inadequate communication ability" (55
percent) and provided "no clear sense of purpose" during the interview
"Current school leaders and selection teams are looking for new administrators
who know why they want a leadership position, what qualifies them to be leaders,
and know how to articulate their goals and beliefs," Roe said.
Districts also expect candidates to be familiar with computer technology.
At the very least, candidates are expected to understand word processing and
e-mail applications, as well as database, Web search tools and spreadsheet
tools and programs.
Other areas explored in the survey were recruiting/advertising methods used
to attract top candidates, the makeup of district interview teams, key questions
posed to candidates in the interview process and key portfolio materials.
A separate report was generated from data collected in Iowa, whose data nearly
mirrors the national findings.
Anthony said nearly one-third of the national sample of 1,004 districts
returned questionnaires and 68 percent of Iowa superintendents responded.
"We were extremely pleased with the response rate," she said.
"The high response rate seems to indicate a very significant level of
interest in the topic."