November 15, 2016

The Fund Releases New Report to Help School Communities Plan for Principal Transitions

A new report, “The Right Match: A Strong Principal in Every Public School,” reflects survey results and insights from more than 400 Chicago public school principals

CHICAGO – November 14, 2016 – At a City Club of Chicago event today, The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) released its third annual comprehensive school leadership report The Right Match: A Strong Principal in Every Public School.The report describes challenges with principal hiring and recommends solutions to ensure the right principal match for all of Chicago’s public schools.

More than 70,000 students in 119 schools across Chicago started the 2016-17 school year with a new principal. Every time there is a leadership transition in schools, students’ academic progress is impacted. In fact, variation in principal quality accounts for about 25 percent of a school’s total impact on student learning.

In Chicago, more than four out of every 10 public school principals leave before they begin their fifth year – a milestone year during which data has shown principal performance to peak. The Fund’s 2015 school leadership report focused on retention and specific ways to encourage Chicago principals to stay longer.

“Great principals help retain great teachers, which benefits students, schools and communities. If we want our students and schools to grow and succeed, we need to create a stronger pipeline to recruit, develop and place strong principal candidates who match the needs of specific schools,” said Heather Y. Anichini, president and CEO of The Fund. “Keeping great principals starts with hiring the right principal. Infrastructure is needed to support succession planning to address both natural attrition and unexpected school leadership vacancies.”

In this year’s report, The Fund makes recommendations to support recruiting and matching strong school leaders to address principal vacancies based on the unique needs of each school community. The recommendations include:

  • Anticipate leadership needs by assembling and communicating data surrounding likely school leader vacancies sooner and more accurately.
  • Cultivate talent using leadership tracking tools to identify aspiring principals and inform training and development opportunities.
  • Make the right match by better supporting those making hiring decisions and providing more visibility into the pool of qualified principal candidates.

The Fund’s 2016 Principal Engagement Survey results, which influenced recommendations in the report, demonstrate that both principal recruitment and retention are impacted by principals’ desire to participate in the development of policy solutions that can positively impact school and student performance. Survey findings also indicated that:

  • 20 percent of principal respondents report they are considering a new job in the next year.
  • While two-thirds of principal respondents spend time coaching and developing staff toward school leadership, 43 percent report they do not have a plan to identify a replacement before they leave their school.
  • 78 percent of principal respondents want to be involved in shaping policy decisions at the city level.

This year, survey responses were received from 482 principals within Chicago’s public schools, representing 73 percent of the city’s district and charter school principal – an 8 percent increase in response rate from last year.

The complete data report can be found on the newly-established Chicago Principal Partnership’s website, – a resource intended to provide Local School Council and charter school board members with the tools they need to run a strong principal selection process. The Fund is proud to be a founding member of this citywide effort committed to ensuring a strong principal in every public school.

To access The Fund’s full report, visit:


The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) is a nonprofit organization working to increase the number of great public schools in Chicago by supporting the talented principals who lead them. Our current efforts seek to make Chicago the best city in the country to lead a public school, creating the conditions that enable the city’s educators to reimagine teaching and learning.