An investigation into the effect of principal succession in the schools of the Northwest Territories, Canada
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The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of principal succession in NWT schools with emphasis on the perceptions of insider and outsider principals as they moved into their new positions. Four research questions were posed to act as a guide to the study. A questionnaire was designed to gather demographic data about the principals and their perceptions regarding the three succession stages of prearrival, arrival and succession. The questionnaire was mailed to the 79 principals of NWT schools. Responses were received from 39 principals. Demographic data from the first section of the questionnaire were used to profile the principal population. Rated questions, scored from a four-point Likert scale, were analyzed by way of frequency counts to determine if the perceptions of insider and outsider principals are different as they moved through the stages of succession. Each of the rated sections contained open ended questions to allow further insights on the research questions. The findings of the study revealed: (a) that succession is a frequent event throughout the NWT; (b) that the most frequent cause of succession was the voluntary stepping down of the previous principal; (c) that new principals began their duties with great concern for continuity of instruction and were willing, as they moved through the succession, to attempt to adopt new thrusts to programming; (d) a greater proportion of outsider principals experienced disappointment in their situation upon arrival; and (e) that the principals felt that succession had been beneficial to their school. The research findings suggest that it would be beneficial for all outsider principals to have some measure of induction, both during the hiring process, and as they move into their new positions. The hiring of insiders should become more prevalent as the Teacher Education Programs, presently underway in the NWT, produce greater numbers of native graduates who will enter the teaching profession. This may also reduce the frequency of succession, as native insiders tend to remain in the NWT.