Cover: Politics Is the Top Reason Superintendents Are Stressed

Politics Is the Top Reason Superintendents Are Stressed

Selected Findings from the Spring 2023 American School District Panel Survey

Published Jul 12, 2023

by Heather L. Schwartz, Melissa Kay Diliberti

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How stressed are school superintendents? What are the reasons for their stress? To find out, authors surveyed 150 superintendents in American School District Panel member districts.

In spring 2023, 79 percent of superintendents reported that their jobs were "often" or "always" stressful. Superintendents most commonly cited the intrusion of political issues or opinions into schooling as a source of that stress. However, most superintendents said their jobs are worth the stress and disappointments, and one-half said they are coping "well" with stress.

These results provide valuable insights that may be useful to school boards, school board and superintendent associations, and other education organizations to inform professional development opportunities and leadership preparation programs to better focus on well-being.

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The research described in this report was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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