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Advice from EAB’s 2024 Voice of the Superintendent Report

June 6, 2024, By Chrysanthi Violaris, Analyst, Strategic Research

Since 2022, EAB has conducted a yearly survey to capture the unique Voice of the Superintendent from district leaders across the country. Our annual survey provides superintendents with valuable perspectives from their peers nationwide, in addition to allowing us to collect actionable insights to inform our work supporting superintendents in the year ahead.

For the past two years, over half of superintendents have indicated they may leave their roles due to the unprecedented challenges of leading through the pandemic and divisive politics. But this year, more superintendents (i.e., 63 percent compared to 54 percent in 2023) are planning to stay and adopting a “wait-and-see” approach. Although reports of high levels of exhaustion and burnout remain high, 83 percent of respondents express high job satisfaction, which suggests that the rewards outweigh the stress for most.

Even with superintendents’ positive attitudes, the list of complex systemic challenges facing districts continues to grow. Urgent issues include staffing shortages, students struggling with math, absenteeism, and disruptive behavior. To tackle individual, high-priority issues, our research found that the best districts first focus on higher-order strategy, like data-informed decisions and leadership development. Addressing these priorities creates a district able to solve their biggest challenges successfully.

So how can time-strapped district leadership teams do both? There are three key takeaways for superintendents in 2024:

1. The greatest opportunity for impact is found through building leadership capacity

Superintendents can’t solve any of the urgent challenges that districts face alone. But they are uniquely positioned to build a leadership team and organization with the capacity to identify solutions and implement change.

2. Don’t let your team tackle urgent issues in isolation

Many districts are working to address similar challenges, leading to clear playbooks for success across various fronts. Collaboration with other districts can accelerate progress for everyone.

Be a Part of EAB’s Next Teacher Morale Collaborative Cohort

3. Resist the temptation to “sleep on” AI

Although clear best practices for AI in education are still evolving, these tools offer game-changing opportunities to optimize resources like people and time. Superintendents can start by organizing an AI task force to explore how AI can enhance effectiveness and efficiency while aligning with the district’s strategic goals.

Our research provides concrete guidance on the steps that districts should take to get ahead of today’s challenges. Leadership teams can navigate competing challenges with our comprehensive research, innovative solutions, and hands-on support. For more information on how EAB can help drive district success, visit eab.com/k-12.

Chrysanthi Violaris

Chrysanthi Violaris

Analyst, Strategic Research

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