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A study of the Massachusetts superintendency: Emerging roles and issues of concern

Lori J Pinkham, University of Massachusetts Amherst


For the past several decades the role of the superintendent has been that of educational manager. With the advent of educational reform the superintendent's role has changed. Since the 1956 Gross study of the Massachusetts superintendency, it has been unclear how and in what directions the superintendent's role has evolved. This study was designed to clarify the process and substances of this evolution. The primary purposes of this study were to examine the emerging roles and issues of concern for the Massachusetts superintendent. Personal and professional profile data on the superintendency in Massachusetts were reported. This information was generated through the analysis of a survey questionnaire instrument administered to superintendents in Massachusetts and the conducting of in-depth interviews with eight superintendents from separate communities in Massachusetts, followed by interviews of two minority superintendents. These data about the Massachusetts superintendency were then compared and contrasted to state data obtained in the 1956 study. The author examined data obtained from the 1992 Glass national study of the superintendency. The study took place in Massachusetts during 1996. Those serving as “full” school superintendents in Massachusetts, a population of 275 full-time superintendents, participated in the descriptive study which consisted of a 45-item questionnaire. Additionally, eight superintendents in Massachusetts participated in the in-depth interview study, as well as two minority superintendents. General categories of questions from the survey were reflected in the in-depth interviews. The following primary conclusions were drawn. The role of the Massachusetts superintendent is changing to meet current societal impacts on public education. Massachusetts superintendent profiles vary in their personal, professional, educational, and experiential factors. Massachusetts superintendents display an identifiable profile in relation to role expectations and current issues of concern. Massachusetts superintendents reflect an identifiable profile concerning superintendents' perceptions on the impact of education reform. Comparisons can be made between Massachusetts superintendents and superintendents nationally on the issues of minorities, women, and preparations for the office of the superintendent.

Subject Area

School administration|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Pinkham, Lori J, "A study of the Massachusetts superintendency: Emerging roles and issues of concern" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9920641.