How can we sustain and retain principals?

By Ayesha Farag
Categories: Continuous improvement, Leadership, Personalization
February 2024
As my district’s assistant superintendent for elementary education, I supervise, support, and evaluate 15 elementary school principals. From this work, as well as my own 14 years as a principal, I can attest to the challenges principals face and the need for ongoing support, networking, and professional learning to sustain and retain strong school leaders. Despite the vital importance of principals in teaching and learning (Grissom et al., 2021), many who choose the role do not remain in the profession for long. Twenty percent of principals leave their schools in a given year (NCES, 2023), and the average tenure of principals is only four years (Levin & Bradley, 2019). While much research has focused on supporting aspiring and novice principals, far less has focused on

Read the remaining content with membership access. Join or log in below to continue.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

Log In


Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts. Random House.

Edmondson, A.C. (2012). Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the knowledge economy. John Wiley & Sons.

Goldring, E.B., Grissom, J.A., Rubin, M., Rogers, L.K., Neel, M., & Clark, M.A. (2018). A new role emerges for principal supervisors: Evidence from six districts in the Principal Supervisor Initiative. Mathematica Policy Research.

Grissom, J.A., Egalite, A.J., & Lindsay, C.A. (2021). How principals affect students and schools: A systematic synthesis of two decades of research. The Wallace Foundation.

Levin, S. & Bradley, K. (2019). Understanding and addressing principal turnover. NASSP & Learning Policy Institute.

McGonigal, K. (2016). The upside of stress: Why stress is good for you, and how to get good at it. Penguin.

NCES. (2023, July 31). Roughly one in ten public school principals left profession in 2021-22 school year. Author

Ayesha farag
+ posts

Ayesha Farag ( is Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education in Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts, a member of the Learning Forward Foundation board of directors, and a graduate of the Learning Forward Academy Class of 2021

Categories: Continuous improvement, Leadership, Personalization

The Learning Professional

Published Date


  • Recent Issues

    December 2023

    Professional learning can open up new roles and challenges and help...

    October 2023

    Both special education and general education teachers need support to help...

    August 2023

    Prioritizing professional learning time is an investment in educators and...

    June 2023

    Acceleration aims to ensure all students overcome learning gaps to do...

    Skip to content