Date of Award

Spring 6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Leodis Scott

Second Advisor

Barbara Rieckhoff


The issue of principal turnover in American schools has gained greater attention over the last twenty years due to the trend of double-digit annual principal turnover rates. The connection between principal turnover and school climate has largely been focused on how changes in the principal position negatively affects school climate. No research, to this point, has examined the correlation between relational trust between teachers and their principal and principal turnover rates. This study achieves this goal by addressing the question: What, if any, is the relationship between relational trust and principal turnover? This study employed a quantitative methodology supported by secondary data sources. The sample population included 696 Illinois PK-12 public schools that administered the 5Essentials Survey in six consecutive years (2013-2014 to 2018-2019). The Teacher-Principal Trust measure score from the 5Essentials Survey represented the measurement of relational trust. Principal turnover first appeared as a metric on the Illinois report cards during the 2013-2014 school year. The time frame which principal turnover is relevant is from the 2013-2014 school year through the 2018-2019 school year, matching the years that Teacher-Principal Trust was examined. The researcher’s analysis sought to determine the extent to which a relationship exists between Teacher-Principal Trust scores and principal turnover rates in six distinct areas. Ultimately, this study found that schools with relational trust issues have a high rate of principal turnover, that principal turnover issues transcend urbanicity, and that school-level demographics largely do not affect principal turnover rates. The findings from this study provide needed perspective on relational trust as a measure directly correlated to principal turnover rates. Additionally, this study provides insight on a new typology of principal more susceptible to vacating their position: principals who struggle to form relational trust with teachers.