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Charter Principals Are More Diverse (and Other Highlights From New Federal Data)

By Denisa R. Superville

CORRECTED

A larger share of charter school principals are black and Hispanic compared to their peers who run traditional public schools, new federal data show.

The profession—across charter and traditional public schools—is still largely white and female, according to the data which provide a snapshot of who sits in the principal's chair in the nation's public schools.

Overall, among the 90,400 K-12 public school principals in the 2015-16 school year, 78 percent were white, 11 percent were black, and 8 percent were Hispanic. Those demographic findings and others are drawn from a national survey of teachers and principals that was released today by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The full data set from the 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey is expected to be released in the fall.

What Are the Differences Between Charter Principals and Traditional Public School Principals?

Among charter schools, 15 percent of principals were African-American, compared to 10 percent in traditional public schools. In charters, 11 percent of principals were Hispanic, while 8 percent were in traditional public schools.

NCES estimates that there are 7,300 charter school principals and 83,100 regular school principals. The sample size for the survey included 7,130 traditional public schools principals and 1,170 public charter school leaders.

Traditional public school principals were paid more than their charter counterparts. Salaries for traditional school principals averaged $96,400, while charter school principal's salaries averaged $88,000. Overall, principals in regular public schools had more professional experience on average than those in charters.

Rural principals banked the lowest salaries, with an average of $83,000. Even with 10 or more years of experience, the average rural principal salary was $90,900—less than what a sitting city principal with fewer than three years of experience averaged.¬†Suburban principals averaged the highest salary at $105,700.

Principals in both sectors reported working long hours—an average of 58.6 hours per week. On average, principals in both settings also said they spent 30 percent of their time on work related to internal administration, 30 percent on curriculum, 23 percent on student interactions, and 14 percent with parents, according to the data.

Other highlights:

  • 54 percent of all public school principals were women. They were also 68 percent of primary school leaders, 40 percent of middle school principals, and 33 percent of high school principals.
  • 61 percent of public school principals had a master's degree as the highest degree. Ten percent held a doctorate.
  • 95.5 percent of principals said they had a "major influence" on decisions around evaluating teachers; 87 percent said they had a major influence on hiring new full-time teachers, and 75.5 percent reported having a major influence on setting discipline policies. ¬†
  • A higher percentage of charter school principals reported that they thought they had a major influence on setting performance standards for students, establishing curriculum, and in determining professional development for teachers.
  • 56 percent of charter school principals reported they thought they had a major influence on how their school budgets will be spent. For traditional public school principals, the percentage was 60 percent.¬†
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