How does superintendent longevity create conditions or context that influence student achievement : a multiple case study
Sybrant, Daniel Blaine
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This multiple-case study addresses superintendent longevity in relation to student achievement as well as local conditions that influence a superintendent's decisions to stay in one school district. The study focuses on two primary questions; how does superintendent longevity provide a context through programs, relationships and culture that supports and enhances student achievement in schools and how do local conditions influence longevity of a superintendent? The purpose of this study is to analyze how superintendents with more than average longevity in one school district have influenced student achievement by providing a context through programs, relationships and culture that supports and enhances student achievement in their school. The other purpose is to determine how local conditions or characteristics of the community influence the longevity of the superintendent. Local reform efforts have focused on improvement of instruction at the teacher level, (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock 2001), at the building principal level (Marzano Waters & McNulty 2005), and improvement at the superintendent level (Waters and Marzano 2006) (Metcalfe 2008)(Myers 2011). It was also discovered that superintendent longevity has a positive correlation to student achievement. School improvement has also been recommended system wide (Togneri & Anderson, 2003) (Senge 2006) (Fullan 2010). While existing research provides evidence that superintendent longevity influences student achievement, little is known as to how superintendent longevity contributes to student achievement. This case study included three Montana school districts that exhibited positive longitudinal student achievement gains over a 6 year period and whose superintendent had been in the district at least 8 years. Data from interviews of the superintendent, school board, principals and teachers, observations and document review was included in this study. Themes for each district were identified along with cross case themes common to all three districts. Four findings were determined that answer the research questions. The findings suggest that hiring, professional development and removing distractions so teachers can focus on teaching were the link between superintendent longevity and student achievement. Local conditions that promoted a superintendent's longevity in a district were a supportive school board and supportive community.