A Racial Gap in Promotion to Principal Positions in K-12 Education

Black assistant principals are systematically delayed and denied promotion to principal, compared to their White counterparts, despite having equivalent qualifications and more experience on average, according to a new study from the American Educational Research Association.

For their study, authors Lauren Bailes of the University of Delaware and Sarah Guthery of Texas A&M University­­–Commerce assessed the probability of and time to promotion for 4,689 assistant principals in Texas from 2001 to 2017, using data from the Texas Education Agency. The authors identified assistant principals serving in their first year and analyzed their progress to promotion, if it occurred.

The authors found that Black assistant principals were 18 percent less likely to be promoted than White candidates who were equally qualified. When the Black candidates were promoted, their average time to promotion was 5.27 years, while the average wait time for their White peers was 4.67 years.

“Even though more diversity in the teacher and principal workforce has been shown to improve teacher retention and student outcomes, our findings indicate that there are still systematic race-based inequities within the profession,” said Dr. Guthery, an assistant professor of education at Texas A&M University–Commerce. “This is despite a teacher corps that is becoming more racially diverse.”

The full study, “Held Down and Held Back: Systematically Delayed Principal Promotions by Race and Gender,” was published in the journal AERA Open. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

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