State of the Superintendency

Superintendents are the leaders of school systems and research shows that superintendents' leadership has a significant impact on student achievement. This page contains data about superintendents and research showing the nature and role of school system leadership.

New from AASA!  The American School Superintendent:  2010 Decennial Study

The Role of the Superintendent and the Challenges
Superintendents Face



  • "From Custodian to Conductor" – For today’s superintendent, the challenge is to bring out the nest in all players, harmonizing them into a symphony of success. The work is all about relationships. (The School Administrator, March 2007)
  • "The Superintendent as a Change Leader" – This article looks at what the Stupski Foundation discovered about school system leaders who surmount resistance to new ways of thinking and acting at the classroom level. (The School Administrator, March 2007)
  • "Survey Says: Data to Guide Policy Decisions" – Superintendents should get the most accurate information they can when making policy decisions. That means data, not anecdotes or impressions. (The School Administrator, January 2007)
  • "Leading Professional Learning" – When the goal is to fundamentally change the culture inside schools, superintendents need to move beyond the superficiality of professional learning communities and focus on a system of learners. (The School Administrator, November 2006)
  • "What Does the Title Super-in-tend-ent Mean to You?" – A former national superintendent of the year describes how the job title bears three elements that exemplify what committed superintendents feel, think and do. (The School Administrator, March 2006)


  • "Remarks on the State of the Superintendency" - Delivered by AASA Executive Director Paul Houston at AASA’s 2006 National Conference on Education.
  • "So You Want to Be a Superintendent" - Veteran superintendent William Hayes shares his insight and experience in areas ranging from relationships with the Boards of Education, faculty, staff, the administrative team, and the media to balancing the public and personal life of a chief school officer. He closely analyzes current issues in education such as integrating technology into the school system and the legal problems facing superintendents and school districts. Excellent reading for anyone interested in becoming a superintendent. (2001)


Making a Difference in Student Achievement



  • "Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships" – Three passwords that unlock the door for engaged high school students to learn at appropriate levels. (The School Administrator, September 2007)
  • "Sound Assessment Through Proper Policy" – As superintendents adopt more productive beliefs about assessment and student learning, they need to ensure that those beliefs are clearly supported in a system of policies that are focused on sound assessment practice and the goal that all students learn well. (The School Administrator, January 2007)
  • "Leading Student Achievement" - Superintendents can affect instructional gains through the quality of their relationships with principals. A researcher with Focus on Results looks at several superintendents who had a positive impact on student learning. (The School Administrator, December 2005)
  • "Leading the Learning" – This series of articles examines the new approaches to leadership in education at a time of increasing academic expectations on schools. (Education Week, September 2004)


Superintendent and District Data

AASA’s diverse members work in a broad variety of educational settings. This data illustrates the characteristics and demographics of AASA’s members and the districts in which they work.