One and done : an instrumental case study of administrative turnover in a private Christian school.


In this instrumental case study, I investigated the factors leading to school administrators’ high attrition rates at a small private Christian school in central California. Across the United States, only 35% of public school K–12 administrators had been at their school for more than two years as of 2019 (Levin & Bradley, 2019). According to Truss (2019), 25% of public-school administrators leave their position in California each year. However, there have been 14 different administrators in this school’s top three administrative positions in the last ten years, with the average tenure being 14 months. Therefore, this study examines and describes the lived experiences of six of the school’s former administrators, including my own, to determine common themes that led to their departure after a short tenure. I reviewed previous research on factors leading to administrative turnover to demonstrate the need for the study. This research indicated several common factors among public and private school administrators that influence their decisions to leave a school, such as salary, student achievement, years of experience, training, stress, governance systems, and a hidden curriculum. Using an instrumental case study structure, I conducted interviews with five former administrators and documented my own experiences to facilitate an understanding of the factors that led to each administrator leaving the school after a short tenure. Then, using Farley-Ripple et al.’s (2012) push and pull theory and themes discovered through the literature review, I discovered commonalities among the participants’ experiences that pointed to a dysfunctional board structure and general governance practices that pushed away eleven administrators in the last ten years. The study results inform best practices to increase administrative retention at this private Christian institution. Subsequently, the results can serve as a model for private Christian school boards when determining best practices for hiring and retaining administrators and their governance practices. These results point to a need for private Christian school boards to make significant changes in governance structures if they want to stop the current turnover rates of administrators.