Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair



superintendent, retention, turnover, factors, rural


This quantitative exploratory survey research aims to understand the factors or combination of factors that may influence the superintendent's decision to stay or leave a school district, specifically among North Dakota superintendents. This study focuses on the perspectives of North Dakota rural superintendents remaining in their positions or leaving without regard to years of experience. The central question to guide this study is, what are the factors that influence rural superintendents’ decision to stay or leave their school district? The overall goal is to provide information so that school districts and communities have greater success in retaining a superintendent which will affect its school district stability and short and long-term performance. This study is grounded in both the dissatisfaction theory and the push-pull career movement theory. Both theories have been utilized to understand the phenomenon of tenure and turnover through the lens of superintendents and the school districts in which they reside. Survey research was the methodology adopted and the primary instrument utilized was an online questionnaire and/or survey format in an effort to reveal what factors are related to superintendent retention and turnover in North Dakota. This study focused on convenience sampling of North Dakota Superintendents for all K-12 school districts across the state. The findings of this study discovered that the commitment to the beliefs and values in the school system was the primary influence on North Dakota superintendent’s decision to stay in the current school district, and the vision and culture of the school district closely followed. On the contrary, the findings also suggest external mandates or requirements from national, state, or other resources, burnout from serving multiple capacities and increased demand and accountability pressures the most notable factors influencing a superintendent’s decision to leave their current school district. An awareness of these influences can aid in school boards to help retain a superintendent in their school district.



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