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An evaluation of current procedures for selecting elementary school principals in certain urban areas in British Columbia Ellis, John Franklin

Abstract

This study sought to compare procedures used by school districts in the selection of elementary school principals. Twenty-one criteria deemed relevant to school district selection procedures were developed after an extensive review of the pertinent literature. Each criterion was placed in one of four categories. These were: recruitment and screening; recommendations, ratings, and personal-history blanks; paper and pencil tests; and interviews. A comparison was then made between these criteria and the actual practice of selecting principals-in four urban school districts of British Columbia. In order to make the comparison.it was necessary to determine as completely, as possible the selection procedures used in the districts under investigation. The required data was gathered by interviewing the school superintendents concerned. An interview form was devised for this purpose and contained questions, requiring short, precise responses, together with questions requiring an expression of opinion or an explanation of practice. Two interviews, the first quite brief and the second considerably longer, were held with the superintendent of each district. The interviewer assured the superintendents that their desire for anonymity would be fully respected. It was then necessary to compare the procedures for selecting elementary school principals in each district as indicated by the data collected, with the criteria already established. This comparison was facilitated by devising an appropriate rating scale. Using this scale it was possible to increase the reliability of the rating assigned to each district's procedures in respect of each criterion. Four general conclusions were advanced on the basis of the data considered and the specific conclusions reached. Firstly, procedures for selecting elementary school principals differed considerably between school districts. Secondly, all selection procedures examined were characterized by a high degree of subjectivity: no evidence was found of the use of objective measures of the competencies of candidates other than in length and type of professional experience and in academic qualifications. Thirdly, there seemed to have been very little attempt to define the competencies required in the principalship. Finally, after an intensive examination of the data it was concluded that considerable differences existed between selection procedures in the four urban school districts and criteria developed from the relevant literature. On the basis of the study and its conclusions, seven recommendations for improving school district practice in selecting elementary school principals were advanced. These were as follows: school districts should attempt to define the capabilities that they expect in elementary school principals; school districts should examine and., where possible, improve the selection techniques that they now use; school districts should attempt to reduce subjectivity in evaluating candidates; school districts should experiment with different selection procedures than they presently use; school districts should consider carefully the possibility of including an objective measure in the selection process school districts should scrutinize the effects of lay choice of professional personnel; school districts should view selection as a continuous process rather than as a problem that arises from time to time.

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