Principal Mobility in Philadelphia Traditional and Charter Public Schools, 2007-08 through 2015-16

Great Learning

Principal Mobility in Philadelphia Traditional and Charter Public Schools, 2007-08 through 2015-16

Effective principals improve student achievement, develop and retain teacher talent, and manage the organization and mission of schools. Since principals become more effective over time, attracting and retaining excellent principals is a high priority for all school districts. But public school districts in large cities like Philadelphia are especially challenged to provide every school with an effective school leader.

Principal mobility—that is, transferring from one school to another or leaving the principalship entirely—is disproportionately concentrated in school districts serving more low-income students and has negative consequences for student performance. For these reasons, it is critical for policymakers and school leaders in Philadelphia to have a clear picture of the extent and nature of principal mobility.

In this report, Philadelphia Education Research Consortium provides evidence on principal mobility among traditional public schools in the School District of Philadelphia and charter public schools located in Philadelphia during the 2007-08 through 2015-16 school years. For this report, principal mobility is defined as occurring when a traditional or charter school principal does not return to the same school the following year. By this definition, a mobile principal is one who moved to another school in Philadelphia (either a traditional or charter school), moved to a Pennsylvania public school outside of Philadelphia, exited the principalship (that is, was employed in another role in education), or left public education in Pennsylvania.

The study uses data on all principals in traditional and charter schools provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and describes the characteristics of principals in Philadelphia, the extent of principal mobility, and the characteristics of mobile principals and the schools that they exit.

​Click "Download Report" to view the study, including key findings and implications for policy and practice.

Published: January 2019
Matthew P. Steinberg and Haisheng Yang, Philadelphia Education Research Consortium
Download Report