It is natural for schools and school districts to see a certain amount of turnover in their employees in the same manner that a business or another organization might. However, it is still important to look at principal turnover as a measure of staff and school stability. Frequent principal turnover - the loss of schools' leaders - can have a tremendous impact on school instructional programs and operating procedures.
Look at the district's turnover data in relation to state averages. Are the percentages much different? Before drawing a conclusion about your district and the frequency with which principals leave, gather more information from district administrators. You may learn that principal turnover was quite high because of an early retirement incentive. Consider asking why principals have left the schools in your district and whether or not there is anything you can do to help improve their retention.
Equally important, ask district administrators who replace departing principals. Does your district recruit from experienced talent in neighboring school systems when it has a vacancy? Or, do assistant principals within the district or the school building generally replace the principals who leave? A well-developed district "succession plan" for school leaders can be very effective in controlling the disruptions that accompany changes in school leadership.
For further technical information about how principal turnover is defined and when these data are collected, see the Data Sources & Information Guide.