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2010 Spotlight

High-Poverty Public Schools

What are the characteristics of principals working in high-poverty schools?

In 2007–08, approximately 21 percent (or 13,400) of all elementary school principals worked in high-poverty schools, compared with 27 percent (or 16,700) who worked in low-poverty schools (see table A-29-2). About 12 percent (or 2,500) of all secondary school principals worked in high-poverty schools, while 33 percent (or 7,000) worked in low-poverty schools.

Generally, in 2007–08, for both elementary and secondary schools, there were very few measurable differences in the distribution of principals by age between high- and low-poverty schools. However, differences by gender were found between high-poverty and low-poverty elementary and secondary schools. For example, 65 percent of principals in high-poverty elementary schools were female, whereas 52 percent of principals in low-poverty elementary schools were female.

There were also differences in the racial/ethnic distribution of principals by school poverty level. Compared with low-poverty schools, high-poverty elementary and secondary schools employed a larger percentage of Black and Hispanic principals and a smaller percentage of White principals. For example, in 2007–08, among principals working in high-poverty elementary schools, 58 percent were White, 22 percent were Black, and 17 percent were Hispanic. In comparison, among principals working in low-poverty elementary schools, 89 percent were White, 6 percent were Black, and 4 percent were Hispanic.

The educational attainment of principals did not vary by school poverty level among elementary schools, but it did among secondary schools. A smaller percentage of principals in high-poverty secondary schools had earned at least an education specialist or professional diploma (at least 1 year beyond a master's level) than had principals in low-poverty secondary schools. The highest level of educational attainment for about 19 percent of principals working in high-poverty secondary schools was an education specialist or professional diploma, and for another 71 percent of principals at these schools, the highest level of educational attainment was a master's degree. In comparison, 30 percent of principals at low-poverty secondary schools had attained an education specialist or professional diploma, and for another 59 percent a master's degree was the highest level of educational attainment.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education