A Case Study on Principal Selection Practices and Preparedness of Assistant Principals for Principal Selection Processes


Author/Creator ORCID






Organizational Leadership

Citation of Original Publication


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States


Historically, the role of the assistant principal has served as a stepping-stone to the principalship. However, research has shown that the assistant principalship may not serve as an effective training ground for the principalship. Given that the role of the principal has evolved while the role of the assistant principal has remained stagnant, this raises questions about the preparedness of assistant principals for the selection and hiring process of becoming a principal and transitioning effectively into the principalship. This qualitative case study investigated the selection procedures and criteria used during the principal selection processes for a Mid-Atlantic, suburban school district. This study incorporated the perceptions and experiences of eight district leaders on how they viewed the preparedness of assistant principals for their organization’s principal selection processes. The intended significance of the study was to add to the limited research on principal selection processes and the preparedness of assistant principals for principal selection processes. The key themes discovered from the data included: (a) overview of the application process, (b) the idea of “fit”, (c) local issues, (d) training, (e) internal and external candidates, (f) implicit bias, and (g) recommendations. Additional sub-themes discovered in the interview data included the roles between the principal and assistant principal, the “natural cut-off” phenomenon during the interview stage, the influence of “principal-makers” on assistant principal preparation, the number of candidates, home-grown leaders, and the reliance of intuition by decision-makers during principal selection processes.