Best practice in superintendent search and selection: A discrepancy analysis of superintendents, search consultants, and the boards of education they serve
Superintendent selection is perhaps the most important work of school boards. The literature describing the role and responsibilities of superintendent is clear to identify the critical importance of the superintendent search process. Although much research and study has formulated the characteristics of superintendents who are chosen in searches, very little research exists about the search techniques that are employed, and even less discussion ensues of the discrepancy or agreement of the search techniques that superintendents, boards of education, and search consultants evaluate as effective. Virtually nonexistent is empirical data analyzing search process across districts or the discrepancy of search process effectiveness as evaluated by the parties involved.
This literature provides correlates and links between superintendent selection and searches with regards to the methodology employed in searches and the evaluation of these techniques from the parties involved in the search.
The primary purpose of this study is to provide an analysis of the discrepancy and agreement among superintendents, school board members, and search consultants for the search areas outlined below, as determined by a defined group of superintendents in two professional organizations, including superintendents in school districts in the Midwestern United States. The areas evaluated for discrepancy or agreement include: (1) Superintendent search planning, (2) Search assistance, (3) Search criteria, (4) Advertising, (5) Applicant pool, (6) Applicant screening, (7) Selection process.
The outcome of the data analysis includes a correlated set of procedures identified as effective by school board members, superintendents and search consultants. Along with this analysis, interviews of superintendents, search consultants and board of education members provided an identified search procedure and policy position that reflects and incorporates these best practice findings. The search procedure developed includes a set of practice standards through both conceptual and empirical data which develops a standard for the search and selection of a school superintendent.
Further, those techniques and procedures evaluated as highly discrepant by each group are provided to inform the parties of differences in their opinions as compared to the other parties in the study.