Superintendents skew younger, but diversity remains elusive

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Dive Brief:

  • Superintendents over the past 10 years are, on average, younger and making more money than in the past, according to a survey released by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, on Friday. 
  • Nationally, the superintendency is still largely White and male, indicating room for progress in terms of diversity in districts’ top leadership position.The survey, which touched on several data points, showed about 89% of superintendents identified as White in 2022 compared to 94% in 2012. 
  • Nearly 90% of survey respondents said they plan to continue their current superintendency next school year, while the rest said they would retire, leave education, work in a different district, or work in private education. Stability in districts’ top education role is a positive sign among worrisome teacher vacancies and academic recovery efforts as federal COVID-19 funds near an end. 

Dive Insight:

The annual survey helps capture real-time data as well as provide comparisons to previous years’ responses, “allowing 10-year comparisons on both the progress school systems have made and the work that remains,” said David Schuler, AASA executive director, in a statement. This year’s survey is based on 2,443 responses. 

Here are the main takeaways:

Administrators working in larger districts earn more money

A superintendent working in a district of less than 300 students in the 2022-23 school year had a base salary of just $1,000 more than a middle school principal working in a 25,000-49,999-student district.

  • Salary and benefits. The median superintendent base salary for the 20222-23 school year is $145,000, a 17% increase from the 2012-13 salary of $123,775. Superintendents earned more for leading larger districts: For those in charge of districts with 100,000 or more students, the median salary this school year was $297,500, compared to $106,000 for a superintendent leading a district with fewer than 300 students. Women superintendents made slightly more ($146,031) than men ($145,000). Women superintendents, however, remain vastly underrepresented in the superintendency (26%) compared to men (74%). 
  • Age and tenure. Most survey respondents (53%) were 51-60 years old. Only 3.23% were 30-40 and less than 1% were older than 70. The percentage of superintendents ages 60 and older decreased from 19.48% in 2012 to 12.20% in 2022-2023.
    When it comes to experience, the survey showed nearly half — 48% — of respondents had five years or less experience as a superintendent, and 61% have been in their current roles for five years or less.
  • Racial representation. While 89% of superintendents identified as White and 3.85% as Black or African American, only 0.25% identified as Asian and 0.16% as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. The report recommended care in drawing conclusions or inferences from the very small numbers of respondents in some of the racial and cultural groups.
    The survey also found respondents who identified as Black or African American were more likely to hold a doctorate degree in education (56%) compared to White superintendents (33%).

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