Term of Award

Spring 1997

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 1

Fred M. Page, Jr.

Committee Member 2

Garth Petrie

Committee Member 3

Harbison Pool


This study was conducted to determine the perceptions of long-term (20 years or more) Georgia superintendents toward educational reform and to ascertain why they had been successful in maintaining the position of superintendent for such a long period of time. The changing nature of the superintendency coupled with the state law in Georgia which mandated appointed superintendents made this a particularly significant study at this point in time. Previous studies have examined the demographic characteristics of superintendents, and also determined their perceptions about various educational agendas, either reform or maintenance of program. This study highlighted the relationship between the superintendents' perceptions and responses to reform, and their ability to maintain longevity in a very fluid environment.

Although the interview questions elicited responses to a broad spectrum of issues in educational reform, the stated perceptions of the long-term superintendents revealed that they were most concerned with three major issues: (1) the role of politics in education, (2) the mechanism for funding reform, and (3) the imposition of top-down initiatives. Other recurring themes in their responses involved race relations, standardized testing, and the impact of technology. These themes constituted the issues in education which the respondents felt had been most important during the reform movements of their tenure.

The purpose of this presentation was to highlight the findings of the research study and to postulate on the various remedies used by superintendents to maintain the office. The discussion focused on material from the research literature coupled with the responses of the superintendents. This study was particularly needed as the profession life expectancy for superintendents continues to decrease.

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