Vogel, Linda R.


Weiler, Spencer

Committee Member

Armenta, Anthony


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





263 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The workforce trends, demands of the job, and turnover rates for school principals are troublesome, and, yet, principals are instrumental to the success of school improvement efforts and student achievement. Succession planning is one avenue to address these issues and to help school district leaders meet their long-term leadership needs. Succession planning is a systematic approach that involves all aspects of identifying and retaining leaders including preparation, recruitment, selection, onboarding, induction, development, and retention. With the importance of principals to ensure school improvement efforts and the continued concerns about the quality and the quantity of principal candidates in the United States, the study of principal succession is imperative. This qualitative study explored the policies and practices regarding principal succession in five Colorado school districts purposely selected due to more positive working conditions as reported by the Colorado Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL) Survey and/or higher principal retention rates to further understand the extent to which school district leaders are using succession practices to meet their leadership needs. The purpose of this research project was to illuminate the nature, characteristics, and practices of principal succession in these Colorado school districts. A total of 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with novice principals, veteran principals, and the school district leaders who hire and support principals in these five select school districts. This study of succession practices provided insights into several actions that school district leaders can take to address two major challenges regarding the principalship: developing an adequate supply of well-qualified principal candidates and making the job of the school principal more reasonable in an effort to retain successful principals. The findings indicated there are four strategies with several action steps that educational stakeholders, school district leaders, and principals should consider to address current and future principal succession issues: leverage current practices that support the entry of principals and provide ongoing support of principals; develop future principals through the cultivation of teacher leaders and assistant principals; act purposefully to retain principals by providing differentiated support and cultivating positive relationships among principals and with school district administrators; and create and implement succession plans to integrate these actions. The findings suggested that utilizing these strategies assists school district leaders in being proactive and improving the quality and the quantity of leaders, while fostering long-term school improvement and student achievement goals.

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