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Building experience and retention: the influence of principal tenure on teacher retention rates

Sarah Guthery (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Texas A&M University Commerce, Commerce, Texas, USA)
Lauren P. Bailes (University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 9 May 2022

Issue publication date: 23 June 2022




Hiring teachers is among principals' most critical work but what remains uncertain is the relationship between a principal's tenure in a school and the rate at which they hire teachers who will stay. Teacher retention and principal experience are key predictors of school stability. This study therefore investigates the influence of principal tenure on the retention rates of teachers they hire over time.


The authors followed 11,717 Texas principals from 1999 to 2017, and tracked the teachers they hired in each year of their tenure in a school to see if principals became more effective at hiring teachers who stay over time. The authors use regression with fixed effects and find that the longer a principal stayed in a school, the more effective they were at hiring teachers who stay to both three- and five-year benchmarks.


Principals hire significantly more teachers who persist after they have led their first school for five or more years; however, the average principal in Texas leaves a school after four years thus never realizing those gains. The authors' second main finding indicates that principals who enter an unstable school (less than 69% retention in the two years prior to the principal's arrival) and stay at least five consecutive years, can counteract prior instability.


This study provides initial evidence that principals establish a great deal of building-specific situational expertise that is not easily portable or applicable in a subsequent school placement.



Guthery, S. and Bailes, L.P. (2022), "Building experience and retention: the influence of principal tenure on teacher retention rates", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 60 No. 4, pp. 439-455.



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