Date of Award

Spring 6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Barbara S Rieckhoff


The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 identifies principals and teachers as equally important components of effective schools. Competent and skillful principals are needed to improve struggling schools and maintain high performing schools. Despite their importance, Chicago’s principals are leaving their schools in high numbers. The systems that surround, support, and retain principals are failing. Reacting to the large number of principal departures and a lack of qualified replacements, the Chicago Public Schools added principal leadership capacity and retention as priorities to their reform efforts. School improvement efforts are undercut when principals depart their roles prior to making sustainable impact. Seeking to identify and retain quality principals, Chicago implemented the Independent School Principals program in 2016 to reward deserving principals with autonomy from district supervision. This study employed the use of phenomenological methods to examine the lived experiences of Chicago’s independent principals. Interviews were used as the primary source of data.