First Advisor

Vogel, Linda R

Document Type


Date Created



Hiring the superintendent is the most important job of the school board. Every year, school boards hire superintendents based on a candidate’s personality and who they think they will like rather than hiring based on specific skills necessary to effectively lead a school district. This mixed-method study was conducted to identify and subsequently share a list of prioritized roles and identified leadership traits identified by individual superintendents in effective rural Colorado school districts with ineffective rural school districts across Colorado. The quantitative survey used an adapted and shortened version of the 2011 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) sanctioned decennial survey to measure superintendent perceptions, while the qualitative portion of the study involved interviews of superintendents from across Colorado. This study supported the hypothesis that certain characteristics and critical roles of superintendents can be tied to effectiveness. These roles included focusing on: Communications and community relations; Leadership and district culture; Relationships in general, including relationships with the school board, community, teachers and other staff. This study could help the 143 rural Colorado school districts, the Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Association of School Boards, and other entities that provide superintendent searches to gain a better understanding of the complexity of skills required in the superintendency. Additionally, when faced with the task of hiring a new superintendent, findings from this study could be used as hiring criteria and also be researched as part of the reference-checking process to determine whether aspiring candidates have demonstrated these skills and behaviors in the past. Upon hiring, school boards could incorporate specific AASA roles of the superintendent they desire while also specifically targeting critical roles listed for improvement for the superintendent. Such a focus has the possibility of not only improving the superintendent personally but can also have a positive impact on the overall effectiveness of the school district.


Educational Leadership, Effective Leadership, Effective school districts, Leadership, School District Leadership, Superintendent


161 pages

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