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AASA Releases 5-Year Study on the American School Superintendent

Alexandria, Va. – Today, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released a new comprehensive study, documenting demographics, background and experiences of American school superintendents.

The Study of the American Superintendent: 2015 Mid-Decade Update, serves as a follow up to AASA’s landmark 2010 Decennial Study, which examined historical and contemporary perspectives on our nation’s school system leaders. This year’s report includes a supplementary section on gender of the superintendency.

“It’s critical for the education community-at-large to understand the history and context of superintendents, which is why our 2015 Update is so important,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “By serving as a voice for all students, superintendents hold one of the most important positions in the country. Data generated by this series of reports will help us improve our school district leadership and help us address issues such as supporting female and minority superintendents in our communities.”

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • The pattern of an aging superintendency continues from the 2010 study; one-third of superintendents plan to retire within five years.
  • While increases have been made throughout the years, females only make up 27 percent of the superintendency, up only 2 percent from 2010. This stands in direct contrast to the female-dominated teaching force.
  • Superintendents most often see politics as inhibiting their performance, with school board members, staff and community as the greatest contributors.
  • Career satisfaction remains high; over 80 percent of present superintendents would choose to be a superintendent again. This number is lower for female superintendents, at 78 percent.

The work is a collaboration of the following authors:
Noelle Ellerson, associate executive director, policy and advocacy, AASA;
Leslie Finnan, policy analyst, AASA;
T.C. Mattocks, associate professor, Bridgewater State University;
Robert S. McCord, research professor in residence, AASA;
George J. Petersen, founding dean, Clemson University; and
Christopher Stream, associate professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

For specific questions about the 2015 Mid-Decade Update, please contact Leslie Finnan at For more information about the report, visit The Leading Edge blog.

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