• Home
  • Blog
  • Superintendents' Top Challenges: Insights from Gallup Poll
Gallup poll

Superintendents' Top Challenges: Insights from Gallup Poll

Today’s school superintendents face innumerable challenges.

From safety to increased competition to student engagement and performance…The list goes on.

As a new school year kicks off, each district–and school–will face its own unique set of circumstances.

But some challenges are universal, says a new Gallup Poll report. In a new national survey, Gallup identified the top-three challenges identified by school superintendents as the issues they’re most worried about this school year.

Is your school or district facing the same or similar challenges?

1. Improving the academic performance of underprepared students

Nearly 90 percent of superintendents say that their biggest challenge is boosting the academic achievement of underprivileged and/or struggling students. Preparing students for successful lives and careers beyond high school has always been a key aim for school leaders. But, throw in a lingering national achievement gap and rapid economic and technological change, and the task of preparing students for the world of work is tougher than ever.

Want more on the challenges facing school superintendents this school year? Sign up for the TrustED newsletter.

2. Facing the effects of poverty on student learning

For far too many students, hunger, insecure housing, and other direct effects of poverty often get in the way of a quality education. Forty-one percent of public school students hail from low-income homes, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. Recent research links the stresses of poverty to reduced physical, social-emotional, and cognitive readiness among K-12 students. With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that 84 percent of participating superintendents saw the effects of poverty on student learning as a major challenge.

3. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers

Eighty-three percent of participating superintendents identified the ability to hire and maintain a quality faculty as a key challenge this school year. A high teacher attrition rate, coupled with waning interest in the profession among college students, makes the task of hiring the right teachers increasingly difficult. Continued unrest, even strikes, among disgruntled public school teachers in several states show that teachers are more willing to make their frustration heard.

A new, rising challenge

Gallup researchers also noted a nearly 25-percent jump compared to the previous school year in the number of superintendents who see preparing students for engaged citizenship as a major challenge. Seventy-four percent of polled school leaders see this as a major concern this year, compared to half that in the previous year’s survey. Gallup researchers attribute this change to an increasingly hostile political environment and fervent student activism around the issue of school gun violence.

As we enter a new school year, do these challenges ring true in your school or district? What strategies do you have in place for tackling these challenges? Tell us in the comments.