Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Source

Sage Handbook of Educational Leadership: Advances in Theory, Research, and Practice


The purposes of this chapter are to detail the development of the office of school superintendent, to examine issues of gender and race, to identify contemporary issues affecting practice, and to identify future research topics. The first two sections provide historical perspectives summarizing how the position has evolved over the past 150 years at three different levels-state, intermediate district, and local district. A discussion of the position's history produces five role conceptualizations; having evolved over the past 150 years, these characterizations provide a mosaic of contemporary expectations. Next, considerable attention is given to the causes and implications of race and gender underrepresentation, and research on this topic is summarized. Contemporary challenges to practice are then presented in relation to education finance, school reform, social contexts of schooling, and school board relationships. Last, suggestions for conducting research on the normative and actual roles, underrepresentation, and contemporary challenges are provided.

Inclusive pages




Document Version

Published Version


Chapter included in repository with the permission of Sage Publishing. Material is not to be used for commercial MOOCs or any other commercial purposes without permission. Please contact Sage for any further usage or questions.

Permission documentation is on file.


Sage Publishing

Place of Publication

Thousand Oaks, CA



Peer Reviewed




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.