Problem verification among experienced superintendents in northwest Ohio

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


School of Education and Health Sciences


Advisor: Theodore J. Kowalski


The primary purposes of this non-experimental, ex post facto, descriptive study were (a) to develop a demographic profile of 111 superintendents employed in northwest Ohio, (b) to determine the frequency and difficulty of 10 work-embedded and 3 work-induced problems as perceived by these superintendents, (c) to determine levels of association between the criterion variable (problem frequency) and each of five predictor variables (district enrollment, district wealth, teaching experience, superintendent experience, and degree level), and (d) to determine the extent to which the predictor variables collectively accounted for variability in the criterion variable. The modal superintendent in northwest Ohio had 10 years of teaching experience, between 12 and 13 years of administrative experience (excluding the superintendency), and 8 years of experience as a superintendent. She or he did not have an earned doctorate, was employed in a district with less than 1,000 students, and in a district with a taxable wealth base below the state average. Thirty-four of the respondents (33%) had been a superintendent in more than one district. The primary findings indicate that the demographic profile of the respondents was typical of national profiles, except in two areas: enrollment of the employing district and percentage having a doctoral degree. Findings from this study support previous research with respect to the most prevalent problems. Relative consistency existed with respect to the frequency of the following problems: (a) unrealistic federal or state accountability mandates, (b) inadequate funds for district programs/operations, (c) excessive job related stress, (d) inadequate time to spend with family or friends, (e) loss of privacy, and (f) feelings of isolation and loneliness. Several problems were found to be less frequent and less difficult here than in earlier studies. They included (a) inadequate opportunities for professional growth, (b) inadequate job security, (c) negative relations with district employees or employee groups, and (d) negative relations with one or more board members. The fact that these were not reported to be more frequent or more difficult in this study may be explained by the nature of personal relationships and the social climates common in small communities and small-enrollment districts, conditions prevalent in northwest Ohio. Last, findings revealed that each predictor variable had only a small level of association with the criterion variable, and the five predictor variables collectively accounted for only a small percentage of the variance on reported problem frequency. Implications of these findings for the profession and policy are presented. Recommendations for additional research include (a) replicating the study in other regions of Ohio or states in the United States to determine the extent to which the population is typical of other superintendents, (b) conducting comparative studies of superintendent preparation programs across states to determine the efficacy of pre-service education in relation to problems of practice, (c) conducting longitudinal studies of cohort groups of Ohio superintendents to determine how superintendent perceptions of their practice and problems change over time, (d) utilizing similar study methods for different populations including alternatively licensed, community school, and ESC superintendents, (e) utilizing other possible predictor variables such as gender, age, race, and district type, and (f) conducting qualitative studies to gain a deeper understanding of superintendent problems, especially those that are work-induced.


School superintendents Job stress Ohio, School management and organization Ohio, School superintendents Ohio Statistics, School districts Ohio Statistics, Educational Leadership, superintendent problems, frequency and difficulty of superintendent problems, frequency of superintendent problems, difficulty of superintendent problems

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