Examining the Career Pathways of Educators with Superintendent Certification

Davis, Bradley; Bowers, Alex J.

Purpose: We used gatekeeping theory to frame our examination of whether and when educators with superintendent certification become superintendents, and how their likelihood of making that transition is influenced by race, sex, and other characteristics. Further, we sought to identify variation in career pathways to the superintendency.
Data and Method: We analyzed 26,071 observations of 4,813 unique individuals, representing the entire population of Texas public school educators who obtained their first superintendent certificate between the 2000-01 and 2014-15 school years. We constructed alluvial diagrams to visualize these educators’ career pathways. In addition to compiling a life table and visual displays of hazard, we utilized a discrete-time hazard model to control for individual and contextual characteristics associated with transitions into the superintendency.
Findings: Educators are most likely to enter the superintendency in the academic year immediately following that in which they obtained the requisite certification. Further, pathways to the superintendency differ greatly based on educator sex and race, as well as the level and locale employment setting. Finally, we determined that age, experience, education, level of employment, and sex all have statistically significant impacts on the likelihood of becoming a superintendent.
Implications for Research and Practice: We discuss the role that researchers must play in coordinating with practitioners to ensure more equitable opportunity for aspiring superintendents. We also emphasize the important role that preparation programs play in preparing candidates for the job market. Finally, we ponder further expansions of similar pre-superintendency research, as well as more robust applications of alluvial diagrams.
KEYWORDS: superintendents, intersectionality, alluvial, career pathways, certification, gatekeeping, school district leadership


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Also Published In

Educational Administration Quarterly

More About This Work

Academic Units
Education Leadership
Published Here
March 5, 2019


This document is a pre-print of this manuscript, published in the journal Educational Administration Quarterly. Citation:
Davis, B., Bowers, A.J. (2019) Examining the Career Pathways of Educators with Superintendent Certification. Educational Administration Quarterly, 55(1), 3-41.