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After a few years of growth in the average time that public school superintendents remain in the same district, the trend has reversed—especially for superintendents in urban school districts. From a relatively recent high of 3.64 years in 2010, the average tenure for an urban-district superintendent had fallen to 3.18 years in 2014.

Whatever effect this might have on individual administrative career paths, a downward trend in superintendent retention often creates dire consequences for the students served by a given school district. Adjusting to changes created by differing leadership styles, priorities, and implementation strategies as those ripple through schools can be difficult for students.

“This continued churn makes it harder for urban school systems to maintain and accelerate the positive academic momentum that they have created over the last several years,” says Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council for Great City Schools, which issued the report referenced above.

Student Assessment Solutions

“There are far more studies about the negative outcomes of superintendent turnover than about what can be done to prevent it. As long-time providers of software success solutions for schools, though, we are happy to contribute anecdotal evidence from our partnerships with school districts across the country.

In fact, we have worked with many of those districts for 15-20 years or more. During that time, we have learned that superintendents, chief technology officers and other members of district leadership value the ways in which highly functioning student information management programs and data analysis systems can meet their districts’ needs—and provide year-to-year continuity.

The benefits of data-driven platforms with analytics components include the fact that they can be customized by student, by teacher, by school and by district. As a result, superintendents are able to provide school board members and all stakeholders in a district community with useful information about individual and overall education efforts within the district.

This is especially important in light of the unique role a superintendent plays in managing a large complex organization while also being accountable to a board of elected representatives—who are, themselves, accountable to voters and taxpayers. Superintendents tell us that one of the most important features of an effective data management system is the ability it provides to use accurate and transparent information to keep their communities informed about student success.

Next Steps

The only constant in life is change—and this is doubly true in the world of education and administrative software. Yet the best programs still are not flashy or flavor-of-the-day. Instead, effective software solutions and analytics programs help stakeholders examine the current state of their schools while being adaptable enough to let them measure tomorrow’s outcomes.

Superintendents looking to streamline a superior way to collect and use data should be watching for programs that offer integration engine capabilities. These will feature high-level cognitive reporting and provide long-term strategies for bringing districts the tools to pull disparate data elements into a cohesive and more easily understandable whole picture.

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