Principal mobility — when one transfers from one school to another or leaves the position entirely — is more prevalent in Philadelphia charter schools than traditional public schools, and in schools with high concentrations of poverty and minority students, according to a study by the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium.
"Schools that serve higher-poverty students, students with lower academic performance, and more racial minority students, those schools experience higher rates of principal turnover throughout the city of Philadelphia," explained lead study author Dr. Matthew Steinberg of the University of Pennsylvania.
The study looked at Pennsylvania Department of Education data between 2007 and 2016.
Steinberg said the study didn't evaluate principal effectiveness, just their mobility patterns. He noted the annual principal turnover was 19 percent statewide, but 24 percent in Philadelphia and 35 percent in Philadelphia charter schools.
"We think that these findings suggest that city and state leaders should identify ways to provide additional supports and resources to principals — particularly novice principals," he advised. "Particularly principals early in their career who are working in schools that serve the most disadvantaged students in Philadelphia."
Steinberg said previous research has shown a link between instability in school leadership and student performance.
The study also showed that principals in traditional public schools tended to be more experienced than those in charters.