THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE
PUBLIC SCHOOL PRINCIPALSHIP
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, CHICAGO
THE BAKER & TAYLOR C: NEl % .. T'E C a.t irj,'E .iPjiL .'IT
PRESS, LONDON; THE P' IL.-ZF N-K&BL.:HFIKI-Kli: I i, TO.N.O, 0 ;i .
KYOTO, FUKUOKA, SENDi. THE CO.M.IdERfCIL FE E ;;, LI-[ I El, h, ; i
AND DEVELOPMENT OF
THE PUBLIC SCHOOL
PAUL REVERE PIERCE
Pri,'cip /l of thc it''i' Hig4 S.hool
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
THF UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
0 / /
? / / l
COPYRIGHT 1935 BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 1ti.
COMPOSED AND PRINTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CbiC.IGO PS Lai
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, U.S.A.
The literature on educational administration is conspicu-
ously barren in historical accounts of the origin and development
of our leading officers in public-school administration. Such
accounts as do exist are fragmentary and report chiefly episodes
of these officers in the management of local schools. As a result,
the basis for generalization regarding the professional status of
modern administrative officers in public schools is decidedly in-
The idea of tracing the genetic development of one of
these officers, the public-school principal, occurred to the
author as a task worthy of extended research. Accordingly, with
the approval of his sponsoring professor, he undertook the problem
as a Doctoral investigation with the results herewith reported.
For data he went to the published annual reports of executive
officers in twelve city school systems. By perusing thousands of
pages of these reports, covering a period of school history of
one-hundred years, he was able to discover the order of develop-
ment of the major duties assigned to school principals and the
conditions which gave impetus to the development of the modern
The findings of the investigation provide for the first
time an authentic picture in retrospect of the growth and develop-
ment of the principalship and furnish the criteria for evaluating
the duties now performed by school principals. A careful reading
of the study by principals and by supervisory officers of prin-
cipals should result in a new conception of the professional
responsibilities of administrative officers. The forces which
gave rise to the development of the earliest professional powers
and duties of principals are even stronger and more essential
today than they were at the time lay officers of boards of educa-
tion began to seek professional assistance in the organization,
administration, and supervision of local schools by turning to
superior teachers and clothing them with certain administrative
responsibilities too technical for laymen satisfactorily to per-
form. The further evolution of the professional responsibilities
of principals occasioned by the rapid growth of cities and the
development of the city superintendent of schools provides the
immediate historical background of the modern principalship, with-
out which a full appreciation of the professional status of the
principal would be scarcely possible.
The principalship is still an evolving position. If the
schools of the country at large are taken into consideration al-
most all stages in the development of the office can be found.
The condition makes all the more essential to teachers and ad-
ministrative officers who aspire to a professional career in the
school principalship a knowledge of the origin and development of
the position. This knowledge has been placed within the reach of
every principal in the United States by the contribution here pre-
William C. Reavis
University of Chicago,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . . iv
I. INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . 1
Purpose of the Investigation
The Principalship of Elementary and Secondary
Sources of Data
V II. THE RISE OF THE MODERN PRINCIPALSHIP. . . . . 7
Factors Retarding Development
How Grading Accelerated Development
The Principal Teacher
Nature of First Administrative Duties
Freeing the Principal from Teaching Duties
The Beginnings of Supervision by Principals
Reaction to Central Office Supervision
A Period of Professional Reaction
The Period of Professional Leadership
The Principalship Today
III. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBIL-
ITIES OF THE PRINCIPAL. . . . . . . . 25
Administrative Duties Defined
Early School-Board Rules
Extension of Administrative Activities
Growth of Prescribed Duties from 1853 to 1900
Administrative Duties from 1900 to 1933
The Attitude of the Superintendent
IV. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUPERVISORY FUNCTIONS OF THE
PRINCIPAL . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Supervisory Activities of Principals Prior to 1900
Growth of Supervisory Functions of Principals from
1900 to 1918
Supervisory Activities of Principals Established
V. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE PRINCIPAL
TO GENERAL AND SPECIAL SUPERVISORS. . . . . 89
General Supervisors and Principals Prior to 1900
The Period from 1900 to 1918
Development Since 1918
Principals and Special Supervisors Prior to 1900
Development from 1900 to 1918
Development after 1918
VI. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRINCIPAL AS A COMMUNITY
LEADER. . . . . . . . . . . .. 123
Community Leadership of Principals Prior to 1900
Community Leadership of Principals from 1900 to 191B
Community Leadership of Principals since 1918
VVII. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PERSONNEL OF THE PRINCIPALSHIP 152
Qualifications of Principals Prior to 1875
Development of the Qualifications of Principals
from 1875 to 1900
Development in Personnel from 1900 to 1918
Development of the Personnel of the Principalship
/ VIII. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROFESSIONAL STATUS OF THE
PRINCIPAL . . . . . . . . . . . 179
Evidences of Professional Growth of Principals
Prior to 1900
The Professional Status of Principals from 1900 to
The Professional Advancement of Principals since
IX. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . . . . . . . 210
Relations with General and Special Supervisors
The Principal as a Community Leader
The Personnel of the Principalship
The Professional Status of the Principal
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . 222
LIST OF TABLES
I. Numbers and Dates of Issue of Reports Utilized in
This Investigation. . . . . . . . . 3
II. Activities Initiated by Principals from 1915 to 1930. 54
III. Number of Special Teachers of Music, Drawing, Physi-
cal Education, Sewing and Handwriting, and Number of
Elementary Principals in New York in 1904, 1908, and
1912 . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
IV. Number of Applications for Elementary Certificates
Granted and Number Refused in New York City from 1901
to 1916 . . . . . . . . . . . 171
V. Maximum Salaries Paid to Male and Female Principals
in Large Cities, 1855 . . . . . . . . 180 v
VI. Salaries of Principals and Supervisors in Six Large
Cities in 1909. . . . . . . . . . 192 -
VII. Increases in Salaries of Elementary-School Principals
in Large Cities, 1921-23 . . . . . ... 201 /
VIII. Salary Schedule of Principals in Elementary Schools
Having 25 or More Classes, 1929 . . . . . 203 /
Purpose of the Investigation
The modern principal occupies a key position in the ad-
ministration of large city-school systems. He bears the chief
responsibility for the efficient operation of elementary and
secondary schools. In accordance with the general policies of
the superintendent, he initiates local administrative procedures,
supervises classroom instruction, furnishes educational leader-
ship for the school community, and serves as the professional
leader of his school staff. However, the position of the princi-
pal has not always been so significant. Most of his important
duties and powers have resulted from a long period of development.
To trace this development in its functional aspects is the pur-
pose of the study here presented. 1
The Principalship of Elementary and
Secondary Schools /
The modern public-school principalship had its beginnings
in our early high schools. These high schools were patterned
after the private academies of the late Eighteenth and early
Nineteenth Centuries. The early high-school principal had respon-
sibilities very similar to those of the headmaster of the academy. /
He had a small number of teachers to direct, and only simple ad-
ministrative duties to perform. A large share of his time was
spent in teaching.1
The chief factors influencing the early development of
the principalship were common to the elementary school and the
high school. One factor was the emphasis placed on grading for a *
number of decades subsequent to 1835.2 Another factor was the
tCatalogue of the St. Louis High School, December, 1862,
p. 4. (Appendix, Twelfth Annual Report of the Board of Education
of St. Louis), 1966.
-Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1860, pp. 19-00, 54.
size of schools. In the beginning, high schools, like elementary
schools, were small. The enrolment of the St. Louis High School
in its first year (1853) was 72 pupils,1 and the enrolment of the
Chicago High School in its fourth year (1859) was 286 pupils.2
However, both elementary schools and high schools increased in
size as a result of the rapid growth of cities.3 Further factors
common to the two types of schools were the maintenance of sepa-
rate departments for boys and girls, and the requirement in each
that the principal teach part of the time. As the public secondary
school evolved into an integral extension of the elementary school,
a definite relationship developed between the principalships of
the two units.
Sources of Data
The present study deals specifically with the principal-
ship as it developed in large cities. It was in the large metro-
politan centers that schools first grew to considerable size and
acquired the greatest complexity of organization. The highest
and most rapid development of the principalship resulted from
conditions and problems connected with schools of this type.
Twelve cities were selected for the purpose of the study,
namely, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit,
Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, St. Louis, and
San Francisco. The selection was made after sampling the official
school records of more than twenty large cities, and was based not
only on the present size of the cities, but also on their size
during the early development of public schools. The school sys-
tems of Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, and St. Louis were
especially prominent during the last half of the Nineteenth
Century. They ranked among the largest in the country, published
comprehensive reports, and were frequently cited for their excel-
lence by school officials of other cities.4
The annual reports of superintendents proved to be the
best sources of data regarding the principalship. Superintendents
1Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1860, p. 15.
2Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
3Sixteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1870, pp. 13-17, 85.
4Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Cleveland, 1871, pp. 11-12.
reported statistical data, specified the sphere of the principal's
activities, evaluated his accomplishments, and stated the goals
for which he should strive. The reports of assistant superintend-
ents were often included in the report of the superintendent.
These reports were valuable for detailed accounts of the princi-
pal's activities and for the points of view of immediate superior
officers regarding the principal's functions. The reports of
principals revealed the principal's outlook on various phases of
his own work, but they appeared at infrequent intervals in the
superintendents' reports. As a rule, the reports of superintend-
ents were included in the annual reports of school boards, although
in some instances, notably New York, the report of the superintend-
ent appeared as a separate volume. In some cities, the value of
the school records were marred through failure of boards, during
certain years, to publish reports. The number of annual reports
read for the present study is shown in Table I. The length of
NUMBERS, AND DATES OF ISSUE, OF ANNUAL REPORTS UTILIZED
IN THIS INVESTIGATION
City Dates of Issue
Baltimore ...... -50 1880-93; 1895-99; 1901-02; 1904-32
Boston ......... 79 1851-1911; 1915-17; 1919-33
Chicago ........ 67 1854-1915; 1918; 1922; 1924-26
Cincinnati ..... 29 1833; 1835; 1838-53; 1860-62; 1865;
1867; 1869; 1872; 1894-97; 1900;
Cleveland ...... 52 1866; 1868-80; 1883-87;. 1894-95;
1897-1912; 1914; 1916-21; 1925-32
Detroit ........ 28 1855; 1894-99; 1909; 1911-18;
Minneapolis .... 24 1890; 1892; 1894-97; 1900-01;
New York ....... 75 1850; 1853-56; 1858-96; 1898-1917;
Philadelphia ... 45 1847; 1849; 1851-52; 1857; 1866;
1870-71; 1881-85; 1893-94; 1900-01;
Providence ..... 49 1870; 1883: 1885-91; 1893-1932
St. Louis ...... 73 1860-83; 1885-1933
San Francisco .. 26 1883-84; 1889-95; 1897-98; 19,7-10;
superintendents' reports varied considerably, a sampling showing
a range from 48 to 922 pages.
The minutes and proceedings of school boards were utilized
mainly for supplementing the data in the annual reports, and at
times for supplying information when annual reports were missing.
Rules and regulations of school boards dealt chiefly with adminis-
trative aspects of the principal's work. Their main value for re-
vealing developmental trends was limited to the decades from 1840
to 1890. The annual reports of the president, business manager,
and special committees of the board at times contained Illuminat-
ing points of view regarding the activities and responsibilities
It is to be regretted that more of the reports of princi-
pals to their superior officers, especially prior to 1910, were
not preserved or published. Such reports would have given added
light on the hopes and ambitions of principals themselves during
those years. The minutes of principals' associations, where pre-
served, have to a certain extent filled the gap. Principals -.
published little concerning their own problems prior to 1910.
Subsequent to 1920, when they finally began to study their prob-
lems and to publish results in considerable volume, accounts of
their activities were included in the annual reports of the
superintendents and assistant superintendents. This fact accounts
for the absence, except in rare instances, of citations in this
study from the yearbooks and other publicat'ins of principals'
The first step in the collection of the data for the in-
vestigation was to read the sources and search out all passages
referring to the principal. These passages were designated for
note-taking with only two exceptions: (1) data regarding a func-
tion of the principal were not considered after the function
became clearly established in a given school system, and (2) data
on functions peculiar to principals of special classes of schools,
such as high schools and trade schools, were omitted. The aim
was to record only characteristics common to all principals. The
number of the volume, the year it was issued, and the page number
of the reference were recorded on cards. An approximate heading,
such as "salaries," "community," or "administration" designated
the content of each note. In most cases, passages were copied in
When all materials were on hand in note form, classifica-
tion was begun. In the first sorting, special attention was given
to the broad phases of development treated under chapter headings.
Two tentative headings, "the principal's responsibility as head of
his school" and "duties of principals" were replaced by the head-
ings "administrative responsibilities" and "supervisory functions."
This sorting aided In determining the scope of closely related
chapters: for ozample, data relating to the professional develop-
ment of the principal prior to his appointment were grouped under
"personnel of the principalship" and materials connected with pro-
fessional development of the principal subsequent to appointment
were classified under "professional status" of the principal. The
phases of development finally selected for treatment in chapter
divisions were as follows: (1) administrative responsibilities
(Including office organization), (2) supervisory functions,
(3) relationship to general and special supervisors, (4) community
leadership, (5) personnel of the principalship, (6) professional
Grouping all data into subdivisions under each chapter
heading was next undertaken. Often this involved a regrouping
under the subdivisions, as in the case of assignment of special
duties to teachers, effecting a permanent organization, and the
like under "organization," a subdivision of "administrative re-
sponsibilities." Careful study of the content of the subseries
made it possible to determine approximate subtitles and construct
a tentative outline of the chapter.
An important problem of procedure still remained, namely,
the selection of the fLctas in each sorles to be used in the final ,
exposition. Obviously, not all of the data could be used in
describing trends or as bases for generalizations. More than the
mere recording of fact in chronological order is required to
In the main, the principles of historical technique were
utilized in the selection of facts. Certain data, such as rules
and regulations of school boards, salary schedules, and certifica-
tion requirements were susceptible to statistical treatment.
Wherever mass data could be utilized to show trends, the statis-
tical method was utilized as an auxiliary aid. For the most part,
however, the data of a given series were carefully sampled, and
those facts which most accurately and typically illustrated a
trend or provided bases for a generalization were utilized. An
illustration is afforded in the policy of freeing principals from
teaching duties in order that they might supervise instruction.
This trend was quite general in large cities in the decades sub-
sequent to 1860. The method generally used was to provide head-
assistants to take over part of the principals' teaching duties
and to keep the school records. The practices followed in Chicago
and Boston were the most typical and clear-cut; consequently they
were cited to illustrate the trend. Consideration was also given
in the selection of data to such factors as causal connections and
current educational history.
Undue importance should not be attached to dates cited in
connection with the introduction of new activities of principals.
The citing of a procedure of a principal in the annual report of
a superintendent is no indication that it had not been practiced
previously, either in the city in question, or in other cities.
Possibly the safest interpretation to place on a date of this type
is that it marks a certain degree of development in the procedure
in question. This may be regarded as characteristic of activities
of principals which are cited in superintendents' reports.
THE RISE OF THE MODERN PRINCIPALSHIP
The development of the modern public-school principalship
received Impetus, at various stages, from a number of diverse
factors. Prominent among these were the rapid growth of cities,
the grading of schools, the consolidation of departments under a
single principal, the freeing of the principal from teaching
duties, recognition of the principal as the supervisory head of
the school, and finally, the establishment of the Departments of /
Elementary-School and Secondary-School Principals within the
National Education Association. Obstacles were encountered, such
as "double-headed schools," the influence of the Lancastrian sys-
tem, and the conservatism and professional inertia of a large
proportion of the principals. These obstacles at times resulted
in periods of quiescence, which delayed but did not inhibit the
eventual development of the principalship.
The growth of cities was an important factor in the trans-
fer of local supervision from the superintendent to the principal.
One of the main functions of the early superintendents was to grade
the schools. The growth of cities, which became marked about 1830,
continued at such a rapid pace in the subsequent decades that
school enrolments were multiplied many times. The problems in ad-
ministration thus created made so many demands on the time of the
superintendents that they were unable to give personal attention
to the management and supervision of local schools. The logical
step was to turn local management of schools over to the principals.
Dr. William T. Harris described the process as follows:
"Experiments have been in progress for two years to ascer-
tain the most efficient organization for large schools and
also for groups of schools. A system continually increasing
in size requires frequent changes in its organization, in
order to preserve the balance between its local and central
interests. When the number of pupils in a school system in-
creases from 5,000 to 20,000, the duties of the superintendent
and Board of Directors not only become more complex, but they
change essentially in quality or kind. In the former case
their local importance predominates. When there are only
5,000 pupils the schools can be frequently visited by the
superintendent and much stimulated by his personal presence:
petty cases of discipline can be settled by him; he can ex-
amine the methods of discipline and instruction and the pro-
ficiency of the pupils in each department. With 20,000
pupils this becomes impossible and the system of supervision
must expand so as to leave the local supervision to independ-
ent principals in a large measure."1
Factors Retarding Development
A retarding factor in the early development of the
'- principalship was the influence of the Lancastrian system of in-
struction on both the organization of instruction and the layout
of school buildings. Superintendent Divoll, in describing the
condition of St. Louis Schools from 1849 to 1857, gave a vivid
account of the after-effects of the Lancastrian system:
"It is not at all surprising that in the early history of
the schools the buildings were constructed in the styles we
find them. The Lancasterian or monitorial system, so called,
was much in vogue in those days on account of its being deemed
economical. The school-rooms which it required were simply a
large study hall with one or more small classrooms attached.
The Principal occupied the large hall, preserved order during
study hours, and instructed one or two classes; while the
other pupils went to the classrooms to recite to assistant
teachers or monitors . . When the monitors gave place to
assistant teachers, another step was taken in advance."2
Another factor which retarded the development of the prin-
cipalship was the "double-headed school." This institution had
its origin in the introduction of grammar masters into the schools
of Boston in 1740.3 The grammar masters, who were to teach read-
ing, grammar, geography and other subjects, were required to share
the school with the writing masters. The children in each school
were divided into two groups, one attending the writing school
which was usually downstairs, in the morning, and going to the
grammar master, upstairs, in the afternoon. The other group at-
tended the classes in the reverse order. Thus, there was divided
authority in the one building.4
Seventeenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1871, p. 189.
2Thirteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
,St. Louis, 1867, p. 110.
3Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1903,
41bid., pp. 47-49.
Admission of girls to the schools led to further varia-
tion in forms of organization. Often several separate "depart-
ments" or schools, with separate heads or principals, were housed
in a single building. This trend was often augmented by the lay-
out of old school buildings designed for the Lancastrian system
of instruction. Superintendent Divoll described the harmful
effects of schools having several separate departments as follows:
"The organization of independent departments under the
old system, consequent upon the peculiar construction of the
houses, required several principals in the same building, thus
destroying the unity of the school and rendering the classi-
fication very imperfect."'
The establishment of the Quincy School in Boston in 1-47
has usually been cited as the first school to have all departments
united under a single principal. The chief credit for this step
was given to the principal, John Philbrick, who later became
Superintendent of the Schools of Boston. However, school records
show that the policy of placing all departments of a school under
a single head was practiced in the young and rapidly growing city
of Cincinnati prior to 1838, at least ten years earlier than the
Quincy precedent. The school trustees in 1838 reported regarding
the policy as follows:
"The Board have endeavored to place the control of the
houses, so far as the regulation of scholars is concerned,
under the charge of principals to whom the assistants are sub-
ject in the minor arrangements of government, classification,
&c. .. . According to the resolution grading the teachers,
and fixing their salaries, there can but one controlling
principal be appointed in each house, or district, to whom,
with the appropriate visitor, it is intended to confide the
grading of the schools, the classification of the pupils, and
the arrangement of those under their respective teachers.
How far this plan will succeed in securing a better organiza-
tion of the schools than has heretofore been practicable,
must be determined by the experience of the coming year; but
from the trial which has already been made in some of the
schools it is thought it will be eminently successful"2
In 1859, St. Louis adopted the policy of having but "one
principal in each building, all the other teachers being assist-
ants."3 Chicago, in 1860, dropped the terms "primary" and
IThirteenth Annual Report, St. Louis, op. cit., p. 112.
2Ninth Annual Report of the Trustees and Visitors of the
Common Schools of Cincinnati, 1838, p. 5.
3Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1859, p. 25.
"grammar" departments, and introduced instead, the term "graded
schools." At the same time, the office of head assistant was es-
tablished as an aid to the principal in place of the former office
of principal of the primary department.1
The fact that western cities, such as Cincinnati, St. Louis,
and Chicago were soon able to rid themselves of double-headed or
departmental schools was doubtless due to the fact that this in-
heritance from early school organization never became so strongly
intrenched as in the cities of the East. New ideas in school or-
ganization, such as the policy of having a single principal in
charge of a school, could be introduced in the young cities of the
West without the necessity of overcoming traditional practices and
the inertia and opposition of reactionary school officers and
teachers. It might almost be said that the principalship in the
western cities had the twofold advantage of having the East as a
source from which to draw educational ideas and the West as virgin
soil in which to try them out.
In the large cities of the East the situation, except in
Boston, was not so favorable. Boston, owing mainly to the effec-
tive leadership of Philbrick, was able in 1855, to dispose of the
last of the double-headed schools.2 New York, on the other hand,
was not so fortunate. In 1889, there were still twenty-three
schools in the city, each having male, female, and primary depart-
ments. As late as 1903, the problem still occupied the attention
of school officials, as indicated by the following excerpt from
Superintendent Maxwell's report:
"In many of the elementary buildings in the boroughs of
Manhattan and the Bronx, it was found that two, or in some
cases, three distinct school organizations under two or three
independent principals existed under the same roof. As oppor-
tunity occurred the Board of Superintendents recommended and
your Board approved the recommendation, to consolidate three
of these organizations into two, and two of them into one."3
How Grading Accelerated Development
While the early advancement of the principalship was re-
tarded by the Lancastrian System and double-headed schools, it
1Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1860, pp. 20-21.
2Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1855,
3Fifth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of Schools
of the City of New York, 1903, p. 107.
was accelerated, on the other hand, by the grading of schools. fr7-
Grading of schools was one of the main reasons for the introduc-
tion of superintendents.1 Graded courses of study were introduced.
It was soon evident that one authority must be responsible for the
co-ordinating of tne work of the various departments and securing
continuity of materials and progress through the various grades.
The rapid increase in size of cities likewise made It evident
that the superintendent could not long exercise this function.
The logical thing, therefore, was to give the principal the local
responsibility for properly grading and classifying the pupils in
each school. Effective grading revealed the fallacy of having
several separate departments with independent heads, and hastened
the appointment of a single principal in each school. It also
proved to be an opening wedge for freeing the principal, for at
least part of his time, from teaching duties.2 Thus grading of
schools was a large factor in making the principal the actual, as
well as the titular, head of his school.
The Principal Teacher
The influence of teaching duties on the principalship was
limited chiefly to the early stages of its development. The term
"Principal Teacher" was a common designation for the controlling
head of the school in the early reports of school boards, indicat-
ing that teaching was the chief duty. The term "Principal" how-
ever, appeared in the Common School Report3 of Cincinnati as early
as 1838, and Horace Mann4 referred to a "male principal" in his
annual report of 1841.
The relations of the early "principal teacher" to the
other teachers in the building was sometimes a matter of concern,
especially to the teachers. An inquiry was addressed to the Board
of Education in Cincinnati In 1859, by the Conron School Teachers'
Association, to determine the relative duties of principal and
assistant teachers, especially when they occupied different school
rooms. A committee, of which the President of the Board was chair-
man, undertook to reply to the Association. It was the feeling
1First Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1853, pp. 3-4.
2Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1862, p. 37.
3Ibid.. p. 5.
4Fourth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board of
Education of Massachusetts, 1841, p. 25.
of the committee that the terms, "principal" and "assistant" went
far to explain the relationship. However, judging that the re-
quest of the Association called for a more detailed statement,
the committee outlined what they deemed the chief responsibilities
of the principal teacher and his assistants.
The principal teacher was (1) to function as the head of
the school charged to his care, (2) to regulate the classes and
course of instruction of all the pupils, whether they occupied his
room or the rooms of other teachers, (3) to discover any defects
in the school and apply remedies, (4) to make defects known to the
visitor or trustee of ward, or district, if he were unable to
remedy conditions, 15) to give necessary instruction to his assist-
ants, (6) to classify pupils, (7) to safeguard school houses and
furniture, (8) to keep the school clean, (9) to instruct assist-
ants, (10) to refrain from impairing the standing of assistants,
especially in the eyes of their pupils, and (11) to require the
co-operation of his assistants.
The assistant teachers, on the other hand, were (1) to
regard the principal teacher as the head of the school, (2) to
observe his directions, (3) to guard his reputation, and (4) to
make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the rules and regula-
tions adopted for the government of the schools.
The committee further pointed out that principal teachers
were selected on account of their knowledge of teaching methods,
characteristics of children, and common problems of schools.
Lack of firmness in the performance of duties by the principal
teacher was at times felt by the trustees. Many assistant
teachers were so well versed in their work as to require little
or no instruction from principals, but this fact should not inter-
fere with wholesome working relations. Mutual co-operation between
principal and assistant teachers was especially important, the
committee felt, because of frequent changes in the teaching per-
sonnel, and because, without it, good order and teaching efforts
By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, the principal-
ship in large cities had acquired certain outstanding character-
istics: (1) a teaching male principal as the controlling head of
the school, (2) female and primary departments with women prin-
cipals under the direction of the male principal, and (3) pre-
scribed duties which were limited largely to discipline, routine
administrative acts, and grading of pupils in the various rooms.
Two conceptions destined to improve the position of the principal-
1Tenth Annual Report of the Common Schools of Cincinnati,
1839, pp. 22-24.
ship were beginning to attain acceptance: the uniting of all de-
partments under one principal, and the freeing of the principal
from teaching duties to supervise the work of all rooms of the
Nature of First Administrative Duties
Tne administrative nature of most of the duties delegated
to the principal teachers Is revealed by tne "lists of duties"
appearing in the early annual reports of school boards. The
duties of the principal teacher in Cincinnati in 1233 have already
been broadly characterized. A condensed summary of the duties of
"Male Principals" appeared in the toard report of the semie city
in 1853. It gives such a detailed pictuLre of the principal's work
in the middle of the century that it is herewith quoted in its
"The Male Principal, as tne local superintendent, is re-
sponsible for the observance and enforcement of the rules and
regulations of the Board for the guidance and directions of
Teachers and government of the schools, and is accordingly
invested with authority to carry tnem into effect.
"With the cooperation of the Pemale Principal, he is to
classify the pupils in the different grades above the primary
department, according to their advancement in arithmetical
studies. He shall employ half an hour eacn day in visiting
the Schools of his Distrizt, and shall announce to the other
departments, by tne ringing of a bell, the hour for beginning
and closing school, for the recitation of classes and for re-
cess. He shall promulgate to all the Teachers such rules and
regulations of general application as he may receive from the
Board, and record the same on the blank leaves of the Rules
and Regulations- shall transmit to the Clerk, at the close of
each Scnool month, all oills for salaries of teachers and re-
port monthly to the Board according to blank forms furnished
him, with such additional information as the Board may from
time to time require, or as he may tnink important to com-
municate- and any failure, except sickness, to file with the
Clerk the aforesaid report, according to the full requirements
of the forms prescribed, will debar him from the reception of
his salary until the same Is rendered to the satisfaction of
the Board. He shall transmit to the clerk, at the close of
each quarter, a report of the condition of all the schools in
his District, and a similar report at the close of each year.
He shall also at the close of each year return to the Clerk
the keys to the rooms of the house over which he has had
charge. He shall see to the safe keeping and protection of
the house, furniture, apparatus, fences, trees and shrubbery
and maintain the strictest cleanliness in the school and out
houses. He shall require the pupils not to appear in or about
the yard earlier than fifteen minutes before the opening of
the school, and prevent them by noise or otherwise from annoy-
ing the neighborhood of the school. He shall provide for the
sweeping and scrubbing, lighting and maintaining the fires of
the house, by some suitable person or persons acceptable to
the local Trustees, and for payment of the same, shall make
an equal per cent assessment on all the teachers in the house,
according to their respective salaries, and any teacher de-
clining to pay his or her share of such assessment, upon being
reported to the Board, will have the same deducted from their
salary. . .
"All teachers in every house are required to be present
at their respective rooms, and report themselves personally to
the Male Principals of the house fifteen minutes before the
opening of school in the morning, and five minutes before the
opening of school in the afternoon. ... .
The principal was thus an administrator of routine and a
clerk. Eveh the classification of pupils was carried out, in
that day, on a very stereotyped basis. It should be noted that
the principal was in complete charge of the plant, as he both
hired and directed the janitors. Teaching was still an important
duty, because it was not until three years later that the School
Board of Cincinnati relieved the principal of the charge of pupils
in study hours, to enable him better to perform his prescribed
The type of school over which this "male principal" pre-
sided was described by the President of the Board in the following
"The Common Schools are administered by a division of the
city into Districts, each of which has a single school house
in a central position, calculated for 600 to 1000 pupils, and
at which all the children, male and female, of the District
attend- the children of the different sexes occupying distinct
rooms and playgrounds. Each house is in charge, subject to
the District Trustees and this Board, of a male Principal,
1Twenty-fourth Annual Report of the Common Schools of
Cincinnati, 1853, p. 63.
2Thirty-first Annual Report of the Common Schools of
Cincinnati, 1860, p. 84.
assisted by a female Principal and five to twelve subordinates,
each having charge of a class varying from thirty to sixty and
sometimes seventy pupils."1
Freeing the Principal from Teaching Duties
The uniting of departments into a single graded system
under one principal paved the way for the introduction of graded
courses of study, thus giving the principal added responsibilities
for the work in rooms other than his own. This meant that he had
to have time during the period school was In session to visit and
inspect the classwork of his teachers. Accordingly, superintend-
ents began to provide means for freeing the principal from teaching
duties for part of the time. A device frequently used was to make
the principal and the head assistant jointly responsible for the
highest division in the school, the head assistant taking the
division during the periods in which the principal was to visit
rooms. In 1857, Superintendent Philbrick reported that in some
schools of Boston, a portion of each day, and in others,/one or
two half-days each week, were set aside by principals for the in-
spection and examination of primary classes. The head assistant
took charge of the principals' classes during these periods.
Philbrick regarded this as an excellent method for securing a
"harmonious" progress in a large school and a practice which
should be encouraged.3 In 1859, Superintendent Wells of Chicago
pointed out the need for special provision by which the principals
of large schools could be relieved from the immediate charge of
their own rooms during a portion of each day.4 In 1862, he re-
ported that head assistants were employed in five schools and
extra teachers discharging all the duties of head assistants, in
seven schools. The first and most important duty of the head
assistant was to take charge of the principal's room in order that
he might visit other rooms. In most of the schools, the principal
was thus relieved about one-half of the time.5
1Twenty-fourth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 9.
2Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1861, p. 6.
3Annual Report of School Committee of Boston, 1857, p.35.
4Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1859, p. 43.
5Ninth Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 37-38.
Superintendent Wells tihe same year reminded his board
that in Cincinnati principals were relieved "entirely" from the
charge of particular classes so that they could give all their
time to the general interests of their schools. In New York City,
by 1867, the principal of any school had no classroom, and no
particular class or grade which he Instructed, and for whose
progress and efficiency he was specially responsible.1 However,
it was some years before that condition became general in the
large cities throughout the country. In Chicago, as late as 1881,
the principals were still required to devote as much as one-half
to one-fourth of their time each day to regular class instruction.2
The Beginnings of Supervision by Principals
The freeing of the principal from teaching duties to visit
other rooms proved the opening wedge for supervision by the prin-
cipal. Grading and unifying the work of the school were, of course,
the first considerations in the minds of superintendents and trus-
tees when providing free time for the principal. Soon, however,
the potentialities of the principal for further improvement of in-
struction were sensed. In 1859, Superintendent Wells of Chicago
wrote as follows:
"General Supervision by Principals.- In several of the
new school buildings, the number of teachers and pupils is
now so large, that a considerable portion of the Principal's
time is consumed in attending to matters of general oversight,
and in giving such aid to the other teachers as may be neces-
sary to secure uniformity and efficiency in all the different
departments. . .,3
In 1862, Wells enumerated activities to be performed by principals
during visits to other rooms, as the examination of classes, the
classification of pupils, the promotion of pupils, the conducting
of model lessons, and the exercising of a careful supervision over
the discipline and instruction of the whole school.4
Another stage in the extension of the supervisory func-
tions of principals in large cities was to make them supervisors
of other schools, usually elementary schools in their own districts.
iTwenty-slxth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1867, p. 7.
2Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1881, p. 23 (Appendix).
3Fifth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 43.
4Ninth Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 37-38.
The movement was thus summarized by Superintendent Harris of St.
Louis in 1869:
"The plan adopted in other cities -- Boston, Cincinnati,
Chicago -- gives to the several Principals of grammar schools
a local supervision over those primary and intermediate grades
of schools that are tributary to them. This supervision is
easily given, and is most efficient in reducing the work of
the lower grades to a common standard of excellence, and in
the correction of false tendencies on the part of individual
That St. Louis followed in the steps of the cities referred to in
the foregoing quotation is shown by the following excerpt from
the annual report of 1871:
"Such principals of the first class schools as are desig-
nated by the Board of Education from time to time, shall rank
as supervising principals and shall exercise supervisory con-
trol over such schools as are placed under their charge."2
This phase of supervision was generally discarded in the larger
cities with the advent of additional supervisory forces, especially
assistant superintendents, in the central office. The following
passage from the report of the President of the Board of Education
in St. Louis, illustrates the trend:
"The abolition of supervision by principals, so that each
principal gives his entire time to his own school, and the
additional assistance afforded by dividing the city between
two assistant superintendents . . will, it is believed,
be of material service in improving the efficiency of the
Reaction to Central Office Supervision
The large degree of local administrative and supervisory
responsibility granted to the principals of large cities tended,
in many instances, to give them a marked feeling of security in
their positions, and a resultant attitude of independence in
their actions. At times this attitude of independence sustained
them in resisting what they deemed unreasonable demand from the
central office. An early example of successful resistance by
Fifteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1869, p. 133.
'Seventeenth Annual Report, op. cit., p. xxvii (Appendix).
3Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1888, p. 21.
principals to a policy which they considered unfair to themselves
and their teachers was an occurrence in New York City In 1859.
Twenty-four principals of grammar schools sent a memorial to the
President of the Board, protesting that the method used in exam-
ination of pupils by the Superintendent was unjust to teachers and
injurious to pupils.
The principals gave as reasons for the complaint that
(1) the system employed in the examinations did not take into ac-
count the different circumstances of each school, but applied the
same measuring rod indiscriminately to all schools; (2) the
teachers in unfavorable localities were often compelled to work
harder than those in more favored communities, with no allowance
being made for differing conditions; (3) the examinations inter-
fered with the internal management of the school, often causing
teachers to emphasize procedures injurious to the real progress
of the pupils; (4) the system gave the Superintendent "despotic"
power, from which there was no appeal, to rate a class on the
basis of an examination lasting only a few minutes; (5) it did not
test, except in a mechanical way, the results secured by good
teachers.1 The committee of the School Board to which the com-
munication of the principals was referred, directed that a meeting
of all male principals be called and a committee appointed to con-
fer with the Superintendent and his assistants. The negotiations
resulted in eliminating the measures by which "teachers and schools
were brought into unjust comparisons with each other," confining
the account of the examinations to the "records of the schools
respectively," and recording the results of the examinations by
means of words instead of numerals.2 This adjustment of the mat-
ter received the approval of the School Board.
However, the attitude engendered by entrenchment in their
positions often resulted in reactionary tendencies on the part of
principals, to the detriment both of the welfare of the schools
and their own professional advancement. Superintendent Seaver of
Boston, in describing the efforts of former Superintendent
Philbrick to put a course of study into operation, illustrates
this tendency very effectively:
"What Mr. Philbrick was prevented from accomplishing in
his time was the bringing of his course of study into effec-
tive and complete operation in all the schools. There was
much passive opposition to be overcome. Schoolmasters are
1Eighteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1859, pp. 8-9.
Ibid., pp. 10-11.
usually great for passive opposition, and perhaps none were
ever greater than the Boston schoolmasters of the last genera-
tion. Each was a supreme ruler in his own school district,
and relying_on the support of his district committee, he
could defy the interference of all other authorities, and he
often did so."1
Seaver further related that a visitor, on asking a grammar school
master if he might visit the classes in natural science, was told /
that there were none. When the visitor insisted that natural
science was in the course of study, the grammar master replied
that principals allowed the superintendent to keep it there for
ornamental purposes, but they did not pretend to do anything
Certain writers3 have claimed that the professional
inertia and resistance to the superintendent's leadership on the
part of principals led to a period in which the superintendent
placed the main responsibility for supervision on a force of
supervisors working from the central office.4 The evidence does
not appear to support this view, at least in the case of large
cities. The principals usually managed to keep a firm grip on
supervision in their own schools, and superintendents generally,
whatever they may have felt, showed no great zeal in trying to
impose supervision from the central office upon them. In Boston
the supervision of primary schools was taken from grammar masters
in 18795 and given to supervisors, but three years later it was
restored.6 In St. Louis, three primary supervisors were ap-
pointed in 1898. However, they were not paid on a basis compar-
able with that of the principals of the larger schools, and
Superintendent Soldan, in referring to their appointment, was
careful to point out that their activities would not infringe on
the authority of the principal:
lAnnual Report of the School Committee, 1903, op. cit.,
3J. C. Morrison, "The Principalship Develops Supervisory
Status," Tenth Yearbook, Bulletin of the Department of Elementary-
School Principals, pp. 157-58. Washington, D.C.: National Educa-
tion Association, 1931.
4Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1879,
ioLd., p. 16.
61bid., 1882, p. 23.
"The same apprehension was expressed In regard to primary
supervision which has been mentioned from time to tLme con-
cerning supervision by the visiting superintendent, namely,
that it might lead to a collision of authority and place the
teacher in the disagreeable attitude of receiving contrary
directions from her supervisor and her principal . . The
whole system of management in our city rests on the idea of
the responsibility of the principal for the condition of his
school. There could be no such responsibility if the right
of the principal to arrange all the details of his school
were not conceded."1
This responsibility for the full management of the school
appeared to be strengthened by the pronouncements of superintend-
"ents and the rules of school boards as the years passed. In 1895,
a by-law was adopted by the Board of Education in New York which
made the principal the pedagogic as well as the administrative
head of the school, and directed that teachers receive directions
from him in all matters of instruction.2 Superintendent Soldan
in 1903 designated the principal as the chief supervisor of the
school, and directed that all recommendations of assistant
superintendents as to work in a school were to be made only after
conference with the principal.3
The statement of Superintendent Blewett of St. Louis in
1910 is still cited as one of the most effective definitions ever
written concerning the supervisory functions of the principal.
Blewett discussed two possible conceptions of the relation of the
supervisor to the principal. One conception considered the prin-
a cipal as holding the immediate responsibility for directing all
the educational forces of the school, and making use of the
supervisor as an expert to aid him in accomplishing his plans.
Under this conception, the principal did not regard the supervisor
as one who usurped his office, nor did he attempt to unload re-
sponsibility upon the supervisor. The other conception assigned
to the Superintendent and corps of supervisors all that was vital
in the educating process, and left the principal the empty husks
of routine organization and accounting. Blewett described the
difference between the two conceptions in the following forceful
1Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1898, pp. 153-54.
2Fifty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1895, p. 124.
3Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1903, p. 235.
"The efficiencies of two principals holding these opposite
views are as wide apart as the poles. The one is an energy
that draws into itself power from all sources, converts this
power to its special needs and distributes it through every
phase of school life. It brings to each teacher in the school
the experience of her fellow-teachers transmuted by the larger
experience and broader view that is most helpful. It reaches
each pupil, through his sense of the masterful mind manifest-
ing itself in every Ideal, plan, and activity of the school
as a stimulating guiding force. The other is the power of a
wound-up spring or the dead pull of gravity. It has no force
at any time that is its own and ceases to manifest itself in
any way except through tortion applied from other sources.
It has no capacity for transmutation, no life-giving or dis-
tributing principle. The first energy is the soul of a social
institution. The second is the inertia of an unthinking
A Period of Professional Reaction
The principals were slow individually and as a group, to /
take advantage of the opportunities for professional leadership
which were granted them. This tendency was especially marked
during the period 1895-1910. The principalship was well estab-_---
lished from an administrative point of view, and at that point, /
principals appeared content to rest. Except for sporadic cases,
they did little to study their work, experiment with administra-
tive procedures, or publish articles on local administration and
supervision. The large body of them were satisfied to attend to
clerical and petty routine, administering their schools on a
policy of laissez fare. They were generally entrenched behind
their tenure rights, and they usually hesitated to show vigorous
leadership to their teachers who naturally were often as reac-
tionary, professionally, as the principals themselves. They were
content to use "rule of thumb" procedures in dealing with super-
vision of instruction. Principals' associations, for the most
part, were concerned with administrative phases of the principal's
work, or with welfare features of the position, though there were
instances where these organizations were of considerable assist-
ance in constructing and revising courses of study.c
1Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1910, p. 216.
"Forty-ninth Report of the Board of Education of Chicaco
1903, p. 54.
Signs of emergence from reaction began to appear during
the early part of the second decade of the new century. In 1916,
a general supervisor in St. Louis, in characterizing the work of
principals, classified them in three groups. The first group
realized that their most important duty was to look after the work
of the teachers with the children, to give all children the best
possible opportunities for development, to establish unity in the
child's training, and to raise the standard of all classwork to
the highest possible level by well-planned supervision. Such
principals did most of their clerical work outside of school hours.
Principals of the second class insisted upon having good work in
their schools. They usually gave much time to the help of young
or weak teachers, but they did not exercise systematic supervision
of all work throughout the schools. Consequently, the work lacked
unity. They had good ideas as to how school work should be done,
but secured it only in rooms where teachers "took to it." What
these principals knew was fundamentally good could not be found
consistently throughout their schools. The third class of prin-
cipals, according to the general supervisor, appeared to think
that all details of clerical and routine work must be done during
school hours. Most of their time was spent in the office, little
time being available for supervision. What good work was done in
the school was chiefly due to the efforts of good teachers. Weak
places in the school were not sufficiently looked after, and a
general lack of co-operation was evident in the work of teachers
The Period of Professional Leadership
The large factor in the development of the modern prin-
cipalship occurred in 1920, when, under the guidance of the
Department of Education of the University of Chicago, a national
organization of elementary school principals was founded.2 The
new organization was strengthened by affiliation with the
National Education Association. (The influence of this department
on the making of the modern principal can hardly be over-estimated.
It turned the attention of the principal to the scientific study
of the problems of his position. It stimulated the professional
interests not only of individual principals, but also of principals'
associations throughout the country. The position of the
ISixty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1916, pp. 273-75.
J. C. Morrison, op. cit., p. 160.
principalship became a topic of study in the departments of edu-
cation of universities, and courses, and even programs, for the
training of principals began to appear in the offerings of pro-
fessional schools.1 Studies made by principals regarding sig-
nificant aspects of their work appeared in professional magazines
and in the published reports of city superintendents. The follow-
ing quotation illustrates types of activities which were engaging
the attention of principals:
"Two typical problems submitted to the Division of Tests
and Measurements by school principals are briefly stated here
to illustrate some undertakings which are welcomed and en-
"I. One school organized a primary class four years ago
on the basis of mental tests. All of the brightest children
were placed in a class together and kept together until they
reached the fourth grade. Recently the principal sought to
find out if these children have profited by this treatment.
He wanted his opinion confirmed or refuted by facts. He con-
sulted with the Division of Tests and Measurements concerning
a technique for the study of this problem and secured suitable
tests and measures of achievement for instrumental use in the
"2. The principal of another school, designated here as
School 'A', found that the percentage of over-age pupils in
his upper grades was very high. By comparing his own tables
of age-grade distribution with those on page 43 of the Annual
Statistical Report of the Superintendent of Instruction for
1922-23, he found that the retardation in his school exceeded
average .retardation for the whole city. Percent obtained
from those tables, based on enrollment at the end of the year
in grades IV to VIII inclusive, are stated in Table III .. .
"The principal of School 'A' sought the assistance of the
Division of Tests and Measurements in a complete survey of his
school. He desired to ascertain the school's level of achieve-
ment grade by grade and to discover the level of mental ability.
In the light of these two findings, and with the aid of cer-
tain other suggested approaches to the problem, he reached
some valuable conclusions concerning the administration of his
1Announcements of the School of Education, University of
Chicago, XXX, No. 7 (1930-31), 22.
2Sixty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1923, pp. 20-21.
The yearbooks published by the Departments of Elementary and
Secondary School Principals provided especially effective media,
and set high standards, for the publication of professional
studiesI and prActices of principals. Thus, principals were at
last aroused to a sense of their professional possibilities; the
principalship finally began to assume true professional status.
Such a renaissance of professional interest could not
fail to be reflected in the emphasis placed by the principal on
the various aspects of his work. Studies made by principals on
the division of time revealed what a large proportion of time the
average principal was devoting to routine administration.
Accordingly, more emphasis was placed on classroom supervision.
Superintendents and assistant superintendents reported wider use
by principals of the Dalton Plan, of silent reading to secure
thought from the printed page, of socialized methods in conducting
recitations. Intelligence tests and achievement tests were put to
more effective uses. Visual instruction and supervised study were
being effectively utilized. Superintendents noted that the super-
vision of principals was becoming more scientific, and their
attitude more professional.2
The Principalship Today
It must not be inferred that the principalship in large
cities is now on a complete, or even satisfactory, professional
basis. Its professional potentialities have only been tapped,
and the position as a whole, is in a state of flux. The brief
digest presented in the foregoing pages indicates a gradual,
though not always uniform, growth. In the subsequent chapters,
the development of each outstanding characteristic of the prin-
cipalship will be treated in detail. The following chapter will
be devoted to the development of the principal's administrative
See review in The Elementary School Journal, XXXII
(December, 1931), 307-308.
2Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1927, pp. 22-23.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES
OF THE PRINCIPAL
Administrative Duties Defined
The number and complexity of the duties of the principal
make concise classification difficult. A study reported in the
Seventh YearbookI of the Department of Elementary-School Principals
shows that 897 duties were listed in the board rules of ninety- /
five cities. Of this total, 554, or approximately 62 per cent,
were classified as administrative duties. Most studies2 classify
the duties of principals under five general heads: supervision,
administration, clerical work, teaching, and miscellaneous re-
sponsibilities. However, school board rules frequently place
emphasis on clerical duties,3 and studies based on board rules
usually includeaccounting of plant equipment and repairs under
clerical duties.4 The data of the present study are limited
mainly to our largest cities. Here clerical assistance and modern
office equipment are generally available, and responsibilities for
plant equipment and repairs are usually delegated to the business
department; consequently, clerical duties do not occupy a major
role in the functions of the principal. Moreover, clerical func-
tions are often closely interwoven with administrative duties.
For the purposes of this study, therefore, clerical duties were
included under the general head of administrative functions. The
term "administrative responsibilities," as finally defined, in-
cludes general organization, pupil personnel, office organization, v/
equipment and supplies, building and ground, and miscellaneous
iSeventh Yearbook, Bulletin of the Department of Elemen-
tary School Principals, p. 216. Washington, D.C.: National Educa-
tion Association, 1928.
2The Principal Studies His Job. Research Bulletin of the
National Education Association, p. 88. Washington, D.C.: National
Education Association, 1928.
3W. C. Reavis, P. R. Pierce, and E. H. Stullken. The Ele-
mentary School, p.496. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931.
Early School-Board Rules
Board regulations for the old Lancastrian types of schools
contained provisions governing the administrative activities of
principals. Rules for the East School house, Salem, Massachusetts,
having "two male principals and six female assistants," showed
discipline to be the sole administrative duty of the principals.
"The principals shall have the sole oversight of the
scholars occupying desks in their respective schoolrooms, in
respect to discipline. All misdemeanors occurring during the
recitations shall be reported by the assistants to the prin-
cipals, who shall thus have oversight of the delinquents; but
misdemeanors occurring during reviews may be corrected, as the
case shall require, by the principal who is at the time con-
ducting the review!.
Classification was prescribed as a duty for principals in
Cincinnati as early as 1838. The "safe keeping of the school-
houses and school furniture" and "to have them kept clean and in
order'2 were listed as duties the following year. The principal
was also expected to give necessary instruction to his assistants,
and "to regulate the schools under his charge." The statement,
however, that many teachers are "so well acquainted with their
duties and so faithful in their performance as to require little
or no instructions from their principals,"3 testifies to the sim-
plicity of the administration expected of the principal. In 1841,
the principal's role in the examinations given by trustees con-
sisted of seeing "that the bell was rung for each class to come
and retire" and in 1847 the duty of ringing bells for recess was
added. In 1848, the authority of the principal was extended to
cover suspension of pupils for profane language or immoral conduct,
and the prevention of pupils' leaving school without permission.
The principal was also required to make reports on examinations of
pupils who were candidates for higher schools. In defining the
duties of principals in 1852, a special committee, after summariz-
ing the foregoing provisions, reported as follows:
"It is also made his duty to report to the Trustees of the
District as often as once each month, the progress of the
several departments under his charge, noting the advancement
lifth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board of
Education of Massachusetts, 1842, p. 132.
Tenth Annual Report of the Common Schools of Cincinnati,
1839, p. 23.
3Ibid., p. 24.
and discipline of each department, and the cases of insubor-
dination. It shall be his duty to report to the Board of
Trustees monthly, the names of such Teachers as fail to com-
ply with the resolution requiring them 'to open their rooms
for the reception of pupils at least fifteen minutes in the
morning and five minutes in the afternoon, before the regular
time for beginning school.'"1
The by-laws of the school committee of Providence did not
contain a separate list of duties of principals, but the follow-
ing provisions indicate the nature of such duties as were pre-
scribed for principal teachers: (1) They were to provide for the
ringing of bells for a period of three to five minutes mornings
and afternoons, (2) give any necessary directions to the other
teachers respecting the welfare of the school, (3) turn over when
absent the management of the school to the teacher who had the
longest term of service in the school, (4) provide for recesses
each half-day, (5) exclude pupils for gross misbehavior and
notify in writing parents, chairman of the district subcommittee,
and superintendent, of such action, (6) enroll all new pupils,
(7) provide for roll call and accounting of attendance in all
rooms, morning and afternoons, (8) provide for keeping records of
birth and residence data for all pupils, (9) have record kept of
behavior and progress of pupils, and report of same made to
parents each month, (10) furnish visiting committee, after each
quarterly examination, with names of pupils having outstanding
records in conduct and progress, and names of pupils grossly
negligent in attendance, behavior, or studies, (11) report to the
Superintendent at the close of each quarter, the enrollment and
average attendance of pupils, together with other pertinent in-
formation regarding the condition or welfare of the school,
(12) employ a suitable person for making fires and supervise his
work, (13) provide for, and supervise, the sweeping and periodic
cleaning of school houses, (14) report each quarter regarding
absence or tardiness of individual teachers, (15) furnish the
Superintendent with names of indigent pupils, (16) keep a record
of all books placed in their rooms for the use of teachers or
lent to indigent pupils, and (17) make a quarterly report to the
Superintendent on the number and condition of such books.2
Analysis of the foregoing regulations shows that of a
total of 17 duties listed for the principals in Providence, ten,
1Twenty-third Annual Report of the Common Schools of
Cincinnati, 1852, p. 110.
2Report on the Condition and Improvement of the Public
Schools of Rhode Island, 1845, pp. 246-48.
or 58.8 per cent, were clerical in nature; four, or 23.5 per cent,
pertained to organization; two, or 11.8 per cent, to care of
school plant; and one, or 5.9 per cent, to pupil personnel. The
duties listed for Cincinnati showed a total of thirteen, with
four, or 31 per cent, classified under building and ground, three
duties as clerical, three as organization, and three as pupil
personnel. By 1848 two additional duties concerning pupil per-
sonnel had been added to the Providence list,1 and by 1853, ad-
ministrative duties for principals in Cincinnati2 had been
augmented by four responsibilities pertaining to office work, two
to pupil personnel, two to building and grounds, and one to gen-
When the nature of such regulations is analyzed, it becomes
apparent that they were mostly based on expediency; that is, they
were not formulated for the express purpose of improving the qual-
ity of the work of the school. The size of the schools was increas-
ing and new duties were arising out of the fact that many teachers,
and many pupils of various stages of progress were brought together
in each building. Someone had to be made responsible for discharg-
ing economically and effectively the accumulating responsibilities.
With the possible exception of classification -- which was mechan-
ical and not to be compared with the scientific procedure of
today -- the duties were general in nature, required no specific
training, could be done in extra-school time, and probably could
be performed as well by one teacher as by another. The adminis-
tration of pupil personnel was limited chiefly to discipline, and
school organization to prevention of conflicts in the class- and
playground-schedules of the various pupil groups. Superintendent
Wells of Chicago in his first report, described conditions which
early administrative measures were designed to correct, as follows:
"The principals of the primary department, without excep-
tion, on account of the confusion created by the frequent
filing in and out of the recitation rooms, the want of system,
and a proper division of labor, did little except govern the
pupils in the large rooms. And there having been no proper
classification, and consequent division of labor, no individual
responsibility was felt. The result can be as easily imagined
IReport and Documents Relating to the Public Schools of
Rhode Island, 1848, pp. 89-93.
2See the preceding chapter, pages 13-14, for a summary of
principals' duties in 1853.
3First Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1854, p. 6.
The first regulations pertaining to principals published in
Chicago,1 Boston,2 and St. Louis3 prescribed duties very similar
to those of Cincinnati and Providence. Administrative activities
of the principal were still in a very rudimentary stage of develop-
Extension of Administrative Activities
The freeing of the principal from a portion of his teach-
ing duties not only made classroom visitation by the principal
possible, but paved the way, either directly or indirectly, for a
marked extension of his main administrative activities. The
policy gave him additional time for administrative work. More-
over, it resulted in providing him with assistants who relieved
him of a large portion of his clerical responsibilities. Superin-
tendent Wells in 1862 discussed this phase of the assistant's
duties as follows:
"The other principal duty of the Head Assistant, is to
collect and enter the general records of admissions and dis-
charges, absences, tardiness, etc., under the general direc-
tion of the Principal. This duty usually occupies from one
hour to one hour and a half a day. The remainder of the time
is devoted to the examination of compositions, written ab-
stracts and reviews, and other general duties.
"In Cincinnati, the Principals are relieved entirely from
the charge of particular divisions or classes, and devote all
their time to the general interests of the schools, including,
however, the care of the general records, which are here
mostly kept by the Head Assistants. In Boston, the duties of
Principals and Head Assistants are similar to those of our
There was a growing consciousness on the part of school
authorities that simply meeting emergencies in local administra-
tion was not sufficient. Cities were growing with great rapidity,
necessitating very large and often overcrowded schools. Superin-
iSixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1860, pp. 72-84.
2Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1857,
3Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1860, pp. xxxill-iv (Appendix).
4Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1862, pp. 38-39.
tendents were now sentient to the need for improvement, but they
were no longer able to give personal direction to local school
staffs. Complex organization in local schools was often impera-
tive; large numbers of pupils made systematic provisions for pupil
accounting necessary; and in-service training was essential for
large numbers of very young, untrained teachers. Realization of
such demands led superintendent to request more free time, addi-
tional clerical assistance, and greater administrative authority
for principals. Assistant Superintendent Seton of New York, in
1863, reported that observation of the difficulties of young and
inexperienced teachers, arising from problem pupils, lack of suit-
able equipment, overcrowded classrooms, and faulty methods of
ventilation, inevitably led to the conclusion that principals
should be allowed abundant opportunity to visit classrooms. The
young teachers, in Seton's estimation, would profit greatly by
the constant counsel and guidance of principals on matters of
classroom management, an opportunity denied them by the regulation
requiring principals to teach classes.1
Ten years later, Assistant Superintendent Jasper commented
on the need for relieving principals of clerical routine by pro-
viding substitute teachers to act as clerks. He stated that the
cause of the failure of inexperienced teachers was usually the
failure of principals to visit classes and aid them by his presence
and advice. The reason usually given for lack of such support by
the principal was that his time had to be devoted to writing
records, signing certificates, and making reports. Jasper believed
that to have the person paid the highest salary in the school doing
work which might be handled by the "merest tyro" was very poor
School authorities in Cleveland clearly recognized the
problems facing the Superintendent due to the increase in the
school population and attempted to meet them by establishing super-
vising principals. Four schools were placed under each principal
thus appointed. It is worthy of note that superintendents and
board members began to give attention, at the time, to the quali-
fications, as well as the responsibilities, of the principal.
While the term "supervising" still referred largely to adminis-
trative activities, the nature of the responsibilities had
broadened perceptibly beyond those prescribed for the principal
1Twenty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education
of the City of New York, 1863, p. 120.
2Thirty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1873, p. 310.
in the "principal teacher" stage. President Perkins discussed
the responsibilities of the position as follows:
"The duties of these Principals, though not so clearly
defined as they might be, are the exercise of a general over-
sight of the methods of instruction employed, under the
direction of the Superintendent; the settlement of cases of
discipline; the rendering of needed information to parents
and citizens; the establishing and enforcing of rules for the
preservation of good order about the school buildings; the
establishing of a proper classification in all grades, and
the making of transfers from grade to grade. It will be
readily seen that a wide range of duties is thus opened to
the Principal, for the faithful performance of which no
ordinary qualifications are sufficient."l
The reports of superintendents during these years reveal
that a considerable amount of study was being devoted to the
status of the principalship. Frequent citations were made from
reports of superintendents in other large cities and data from
other cities were used to support local policies. In defending
the policy of supervising principals, Superintendent Rickoff of
Cleveland provided a clear picture of the administrative load in
the schools of representative cities:
"In Boston, to each Grammar School there are several
Primary Schools attached, and in consequence, the principal
of the Grammar School being principal also of the Primary
Schools, has the supervision of a larger number of teachers
than in New York or Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, the number to
each principal is from twelve to twenty-five, or in one case
nearly thirty. In New York the number varies from eight or
ten to thirty or thirty-five. In Boston the number runs from
twenty to forty. The result of experience in Cincinnati is to
the effect that the number of principals is greater than is
necessary. It has been thought, indeed, by some cautious ob-
servers, that the number might be reduced one half. The
question is yet to be determined, how many teachers may, Judi-
ciously, be placed under the direction of one principal."2
The establishment of supervising principals in Cleveland 5
illustrates clearly the fact that economy policies of boards of
education, as well as professional policies of the superintendent,
often influenced the development of the principalship. The
'Thirty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Cleveland, 1868, p. 11.
2 Ibid., pp. 49-50.
supervising principalship resulted from consolidating grammar
schools, first from eleven schools to eight, and later dividing
the schools of the city in four "grand divisions." A supervising
principal was placed over all the schools in each of these divi-
sions. Superintendent Rickoff argued that the arrangement was
far less expensive than the old organization. He estimated that
four supervising principals at $1800 each, and four women as head
assistants at $1000, would make a total outlay of $11,200, as com-
pared with eleven principals at $1500, totaling $16,500, which
would have to be expended for supervision under the old system.1
Two years later, the number of supervising principals was reduced
to two, virtually making them assistant superintendents. President
Perkins utilized data from other cities to support the economy
policies of the Board. Although the attendance in Cleveland
schools at that time was far smaller than that of the other cities
which he used for comparative purposes, and although he obviously
had no grounds for assuming that results in Cleveland were less
inefficient than in other cities, his data were doubtless regarded
by his colleagues as convincing. The following excerpt from the
President's report illustrates a type of reasoning not unlike
that frequently utilized by members of present-day boards of edu-
"The following table shows the cost of supervision in
those of the principal cities of United States to whose re-
ports we have had access, and whose schools have substantially
the same rank as our own:
CITIES AVERAGE ATTENDANCE COST OF SUPERVISION
Boston 33,464 $115,500
Chicago 24,839 43,800
Cincinnati 18,638 43,000
Cleveland 8,174 9,600
New York 103,243 333,900
St. Louis 16,277 [nearly] 45,000
San Francisco 16,382 33,800
"From.the foregoing it will be seen that the supervision
of our schools costs per scholar less than one-half as much
as in Chicago, while there it costs much less than in either
of the other cities named; nor are we able to discover that
the work is performed any less efficiently here than elsewhere."2
iThirty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Cleveland, 1869, p. 51.
2Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Cleveland, 1871, pp. 11-12.
Another important step in extending the administrative
responsibilities of principals was taken in Boston in 1866, when
the School Committee recommended that the grammar school masters
be relieved of their remaining duties connected with the teaching
of their graduating classes -- duties which they were very re-
luctant to relinquish -- and that they devote their time not only
to directing the work of the grammar schools, but to the primary
schools in their district as well. Prior to this time the master's
relation to the other rooms of the grammar school had been largely
perfunctory; the rules required him to visit primary schools only
once yearly and to examine the pupils of the graduating class.
The new proposal was to make the masters real heads of both gram-
mar and primary departments -- "acting, in fact, as principals"
of the schools:
"Your Committee would recommend that the principles al-
ready recognized, of certain duties on the part of the Grammar
master to visit and examine be enlarged and perfected, by its
being made his duty, not only to examine the graduating pupils,
but all the pupils; and not limiting himself to an annual
visit, he shall visit as often as the good of the school and
the improvement of the scholars shall seem to require."1
The regulation, as finally passed by the School Board, read as
"Section 3.- The Masters of the Grammar Schools shall per-
form the duties of Principal both in the Grammar and Primary
Schools of their respective districts; apportioning their
time among the various classes, in such manner as shall se-
cure the best interests, as far as possible of each pupil
throughout all the grades; under the direction of the District
Growth of Prescribed Duties from 1853 to 1900
The rules and regulations published in the reports of
boards of education in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York City,
and St. Louis, show that, during the period 1853-1900, 79 ad-
ministrative duties other than those previously cited were
prescribed for principals. Of the 79 duties, 32, or 40.5 per
cent, were concerned with organization and general management; 12,
or 15.2 per cent, with equipment and supplies; 11, or 13.9 per
Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1866,
2Ibid., p. 60.
cent, with office duties; 10, or 12.7 per cent, with pupil per-
sonnel; 6, or 7.6 per cent, with building and grounds; and 8, or
10.1 per cent, with miscellaneous activities.
Duties pertaining to organization.- When the foregoing
data are compared with those previously cited regarding the rudi-
mentary stage of the principalship, it is apparent that a gradual
decrease had taken place in the proportion of new rules covering
clerical work. Nearly 60 per cent of the duties prescribed for
principals in Providence in 1848 were clerical in nature, as com-
pared with 13.9 per cent for the cities enumerated, from 1853-1900.
Moreover, seven of the eleven regulations concerning clerical
duties were published before 1870, and nine prior to 1880.
Duties connected with organization, and general manage-
ment of the school, on the other hand, showed a remarkable growth.
The data indicated a growing conception, on the part of superin-
tendents and board members, of the principal as the directing
manager, rather than the presiding teacher, of the school. Twelve,
or 37.5 per cent, of the 32 duties with respect to organization
were concerned with school and class programs; eleven, or 34.4
per cent, with direction of, and assignment of special duties to,
teachers; five, or 15.6 per cent, with the selection of teachers
and their assignment to classes; two, or .6 per cent, with the
instruction of teachers; and two, or .6 per cent, with citation
to the superintendent of failure or insubordination of teachers.
One of the administrative duties here classified under or-
ganization, and found in the board rules of three cities, was
regarded as of primary significance by grammar school principals.
This was the right of the principal to graduate his own eighth
grade pupils and admit them to high school, without examination or
limitation by the high-school principal or the central office.
This rule was adopted in Chicago in 1881 under Superintendent
Howland. In reviewing the effects of the rule some years later,
Assistant Superintendent Sabin wrote as follows:
"This act was the emancipation of the school principal.
It magnified the principal's office, giving to it a power, a
dignity, a responsibility, and a freedom which Mr. Howland
alone enjoyed during the twenty years of his principalship."
Howland, however, writing three years after the passing of the
regulation, revealed that the exXltation of the principal's office
was not the sole motive for the introduction of the policy:
"One of the most valuable results of admitting pupils to
the High School upon the recommendation of the Principals of
1Thirty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1893, p. 75.
Grammar Schools has been the looseing of these bonds, and
allowing more freedom of life and action, more regard for the
"With few or none of the evils which many feared, it has
resulted in an advance along the whole line, largely freeing
teachers from mere textbook recitation, and imparting a new
life to their instruction. This is especially true in the
higher grades, where the eye is no longer fixed solely on the
coming examination, but upon the best modes of interesting th.
pupils, inducing a proper direction of their thought, a wiser
development of their powers."1
The number and variety of duties prescribed in board rule:
for the management of teachers were further evidence of the de-
sire of superintendents and boards of education to increase the
authority of the principal. Thus, the regulations include respon-
sibilities, such as directing teachers during intermission as wel:
as during school hours, assigning divisions and special duties to
head assistants, assigning duties to a teacher when her class was
dismissed, requesting explanations of teacher absences, and
notices regarding time of return, requiring reasonable extra
service of teachers outside of school hours, and assigning teacher
to grades and rooms after they were assigned to the school. Some
of the regulations bore evidence of concessions won by principals.
A rule in force in Chicago as early as 1865, requiring that the
principal be notified before a teacher was transferred, was of
this type. On the other hand, a regulation in St. Louis in 1895,
requiring that the principal confer with the Superintendent before
moving a teacher from one room to another, though an exception to
the general trend, suggested a concession to protesting teachers.
However, not all the administrative duties relating to the manage-
ment of teachers dealt with authority, for principals in Chicago
were required to keep teachers enthusiastic regarding their work,
and principals in St. Louis were requested to recommend promo-
tions in rank and salary for teachers whose work warranted such
The principal's role in the selection and assignment of
members of his staff, was becoming an issue toward the end of the
century. A voice in the selection of new teachers for his school,
a limitation of the freedom of teachers to transfer from school
to school as they chose, and the right to assign teachers to such
grades and rooms as he deemed best within his school, were pre-
rogatives for which the principal zealously strove. New York was
Thirtieth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1884, pp. 50-51.
one of the first cities to make marked concessions to principals
with respect to selection of new teachers. The policy was stated
in 1899 as follows:
"No young teacher can be appointed to any school until
after a time of probation, nor without the unequivocal recom-
mendation of the principal. Every principal knows how much
his success and official comfort depends on the selection of
good teachers, and he is not likely to recommend an appoint-
ment unless he can safely do so."1
In Chicago, the principal was authorized, as early as
1865, to assign duties and divisions to the head assistant. The
influence of ward committees in New York in this important func-
tion may be noted as late as 1899, when the following comparison
of this policy with the more modern procedure of delegating the
responsibility to the principal, appeared in the Superintendent's
"With regard to the assignment of teachers to work, there
is a radical difference between Manhattan and Brooklyn. In
the former borough, after a teacher has been appointed to a
school, it becomes the duty of the principal to assign her to
a grade or class; in the latter, the assignment is made by
the local committee. In Manhattan, the assignment of teachers
is made by those in the system who know most, in Brooklyn by
those who know least, about the conditions of schools and the
qualifications of teachers. The superiority of the Manhattan
plan is obvious."2
Thus, the principal's right to give and enforce orders
to his teachers, a large factor in making him the administrative
head of his school, was well established by 1900. The relation-
ship deemed fitting between principal and teacher at this time
was effectively summarized by Superintendent Soldan of St. Louis,
who pointed out that no school could be managed successfully
without having someone in authority to advise, direct, and support
teachers in their work. Authority was delegated to the principal
by the Board to arrange all details of internal government of the
school, subject only to the rules of the Board and the orders of
his superiors. The teacher, Soldan continued, owed the principal
loyalty, and friendly support. Her office was not that of critic,
but of helper, and any professional order given by the principal
should be carried out in a spirit of willingness, intelligence,
First Annual Report of the City Superintendent of the
City of New York, 1899, p. 117.
and helpfulness. The teacher always had the right to a frank
discussion with the principal regarding affairs of the school as
far as they concerned her, but such discussion was always to be
approached in a friendly spirit. The professional reputation of
the principal should at all times be upheld by teachers, accord-
ing to Soldan, since the standing of the school in the community
depended on it.1
Equipment and supplies.- Responsibilities regarding equip-
ment and supplies, scarcely mentioned in the first regulations
prescribed by boards of education, ranked next to organization in
development during the period 1853-1900. Of the 12 new regula-
tions appearing under this category, 7, or 58.3 per cent, were
concerned with textbooks. As early as 1860, Cincinnati had a
regulation requiring principals to see that publishers exchanged
textbooks in accordance with Board rules. Another regulation
adopted the same year forbade any teacher "to introduce textbooks
of a higher grade" into his or her class without the consent of
the principal. One of the duties of a Chicago principal in 1865
was to report to the superintendent if two or more editions of a
textbook appeared in his school. However, regulations such as
those of New York in 1883 mark the real beginnings of the re-
sponsibilities of the principal with respect to textbooks:
"When books or any other supplies are needed, the Prin-
cipal of a Department enters an order for them in the Pass
Book of the Department, and submits it to the Board of Trus-
tees of the Ward. If they approve the order, it is signed by
the proper authority, and is sent as a requisition to the
Depository, which is under the control of the Committee on
"Other and stringent restrictions are here met. In
December of each year, every Principal of a Department makes
and submits to the Board an accurate inventory of all books
and other supplies belonging to that Department including
those in the hands of the pupils. A special tariff of sup-
plies forms a part of the by-laws of the Board. By this,
the maximum number of each and every kind of book allowed to
every one hundred pupils for a year is assigned. Requisitions
in excess of the tariff allowances are stricken out. At the
end of the year, a table of the expenses, per scholar, for the
average annual attendance of each Department is carefully made
out, and all Principals whose total requisitions have exceeded
Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1898, pp. 78-79.
a certain average per scholar, are cited to appear before the
committee to explain the excess.
"To secure the utmost economy, Principals are required to
have all books in the hands of the pupils carefully inspected
at frequently recurring intervals. The condition of each
book, when intrusted to the pupil, is recorded on the inside
of the cover. The utmost practicable care and neatness are
insisted upon. Whenever the condition and character of the
book justify it, it is strongly and cheaply re-bound. . .
"With few exceptions, the Principals of these schools
have shown good judgment in choosing books adapted to the
several grades in their schools. Occasionally, however,
classes are found where neither the character of the books
nor the grade of the reading lessons in them is adapted to
the pupils that are required to use them. The Principal of
the school is responsible for these matters, as a part of the
duties connected with the general management of the school."l
The placing of the selection and ordering of textbooks in
the hands of the principal was another indication of the extent
to which he had extended his influence (or authority) over the
Pupil personnel.- Four of the ten regulations with respect
to pupil personnel which appeared from 1853 to 1900, dealt with
classification. New York, in 1870, required semi-annual promo-
tions, and in 1891, prescribed the use of knowledge of the pupil's
proficiency during the term, as well as examination results, in
making promotions.2 Three regulations were concerned with truancy,
all in connection with truancy laws introduced during the seventies.
One regulation required that the principal keep a "healthy moral
tone in the schools." Only one new rule dealt with corporal punish-
Building and ground.- No marked change was noticeable in
the regulations pertaining to building and ground. Four of the
six regulations noted were concerned with oversight or rating of
janitors work. Such terms as "business agent," "supply agent,"
and "engineer" appeared toward the close of the period, fore-
shadowing future relief of the principal from many of the respon-
sibilities connected with the care of the school plant.
Miscellaneous.- Regulations classified as miscellaneous
gave further evidence of the widening sphere of the principal's
1Forty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1883, pp. 149-50.
2Fiftieth Annual Report of the Board of Education of the
City of New York, 1891, p. 114.
influence and authority. Four, or 50 per cent, of the activities
related to preservation of the health of pupils. Principals in
Chicago were directed, in 1865, to refuse admittance to pupils
not vaccinated, and, in 1872, to give personal attention to health
and comfort of the pupils; principals in New York, in 1866, were
instructed to advise and influence their schools on cleanliness;
and principals in St. Louis, in 1895, were required to remove a
pupil having a contagious disease from the school. The other
miscellaneous administrative activities consisted of recommending
candidates for teachers examinations (New York, 1862), arranging
with parents for pupils to take outside music lessons and the like
during school time (Cincinnati, 1853), holding monthly teachers'
meetings on school time (Chicago, 1862), and directing Arbor Day
celebrations (New York, 1891).
The principal established as the administrative head of
his school.- The closing decades of the nineteenth century found
the principal in large cities well established, not to say en-
trenched, as the recognized administrative head of his school.
He gave orders, and enforced them. He directed, advised, and in-
structed teachers. He classified pupils, disciplined them, and
enforced safeguards designed to protect their health and morals.
He supervised and rated janitors. He requisitioned all educa-
tional, and frequently all maintenance, supplies. Parents sought
his advice, and respected his regulations. Such supervisors,
general and special, as visited his school usually made requests
of teachers only with the consent, or through the medium, of the
principal. Superintendent Howland of Chicago, in discussing the
principal's responsibilities stated:
"The prime factor in the success of individual schools is
the Principal, and no amount of itinerant supervision can
supply his place. Through him largely must the General Super-
intendent act upon the schools. He only can efficiently
supervise the work of the school room, correcting errors and
devising methods for securing better results. He should be
familiar with the discipline, instruction, and personal in-
fluence of every teacher in his school, and with the results
of her efforts . .
"Any authority coming in to supercede him in the direct
management of his school, in the examination of pupils or the
arrangement of classes, must depreciate his influence and
lend to the injury of the school."1
Thirtieth Annual Report, op. clt., pp. 57-58.
Administrative Duties from 1900 to 1933
Selection of new teachers.- The right of the principal to
select teachers to fill vacancies in his staff continued to be a
matter of concern to principals, superintendents, and teachers.
As already noted, principals gained some Important early victories
in this particular; however, they encountered difficulties In main-
taining these gains and in meeting new problems of a similar
nature. Factors, such as extreme social changes in residential
districts, opening of new schools, and increasing distances for
teachers to travel, tended to make teacher turnover a serious
problem for many principals. Maintaining a stable staff was es-
pecially difficult for principals of schools located in decadent
parts of the city. Young teachers sent to poor residential sec-
tions often sought transfer to schools nearer home very shortly
after accepting assignment. One method of helping the principal
build up a permanent staff was to assign him cadets or substitutes
who had received training in his school, and to eliminate cadets
whose work proved unsatisfactory. The following regulation was
"Cadets when assigned to a school shall be on trial for
two months, after which time, if their work has been pro-
nounced unsatisfactory by the principal, they shall be trans-
ferred to another school where they shall have a like trial
for two months. But if after a second trial of two months
the work of such cadets shall be reported unsatisfactory by
the principal, it shall be the duty of the Superintendent of
Schools to report the names of such cadets to the Committee
on School Management for dismissal. Whenever a principal
shall report favorably upon the work of a cadet such report
shall be considered an expression of willingness to have such
cadet assigned to his school as a teacher."1
Usually, however, the assignment of a new teacher depended
on whether there were teachers desiring to be transferred to the
school in question. The following passage illustrates the pro-
cedure adopted in Chicago in 1903 with reference to transfers:
"Whenever a vacancy occurs in any school, the principal
shall report to the Superintendent, stating the cause of the
vacancy, the grade to be filled, and whether the vacancy is
permanent or temporary. If permanent, the vacancy shall be
filled, as follows: First- by the transfer of a supernumary
teacher or a teacher on probation, in case there is such a
teacher suitable for the grade. Second- if not filled by a
1Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1901, p. 2.
supernumary teacher or teacher on probation, the Superintend-
ent shall cause the transfer list for the school in which the
vacancy occurs to be examined, and the first applicant then
on the list in order of time, suitable for the grade, shall
be transferred to the vacancy unless reasonable objections in
writing are filed by the principal of the school in which the
vacancy occurs, or by the District Superintendent."1
A safeguard against transfer immediately after assignment was the
provision that a teacher having been assigned to and having
accepted a position, could not be transferred during the current
school year, except for the good of the service.2
The procedure governing transfers in New York at this
time was more restricted, placed more responsibility on the
teacher, and appeared to give greater consideration to the needs
of the school system. It was described in the report of Asso-
ciate Superintendent Davis as follows:
"Transfers of teachers from one school to another are
generally made upon the application of the teachers concerned.
They do not involve any change in salary, such applications
being usually inspired by the desire of teachers to be placed
in schools nearer their homes, to their wish to secure oppor-
tunities for more advanced work and, not infrequently, to ob-
tain easier work. These applications are required to be made
on a specially prepared blank which, besides stating the
nature of the transfer desired, gives a brief history of the
applicant's former assignments, the grades taught, the salary
received, together with a statement of the reasons for desir-
ing to make the change proposed. The teacher is also required
to obtain the signature of her District Superintendent and of
her principal, either in approval or disapproval of her ap-
plication. In case either of these officers disapproves, the
reasons for the disapproval must be stated in writing. The
Board of Superintendents carefully considers each of these
applications and recommends to the Board of Education such
transfers as, in its opinion, should receive favorable action.
While numerous requests of this kind are received annually,
many of them are of necessity denied, in order that the effi-
ciency of the schools may not be impaired by too frequent
changes in their teaching corps."
lIbid., 1903, p. 83.
3SLxth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of Schools
of the City or New York, 1904, p. 158.
Little change in method of transfer of teachers in either
Chicago or New York was indicated by later provisions, with the
exception that in New York, in 1908, the signature of the principal
to whose school the teacher requested transfer, was also required.1
That the promulgation of regulations specifying the procedure for
effecting transfers did not fully settle the problem, however much
it may have simplified it, was evidenced by the following discus-
sion of Associate Superintendent Edson of New York, in 1913:
"It is the policy of the Board of Superintendents to grant
any reasonable request for transfer, providing the principals
and district superintendent interested consent. At times a
transfer is granted even when a principal objects to the loss
of a good teacher, and a transfer sometimes is made 'for the
good of the service' even when a teacher objects.
"Some of the principals, especially those in the lower
East Side schools, Manhattan -- where a large proportion of
the teachers come from a distance -- object strenuously to
the frequent transfers on the ground that this constant upset
of classes is detrimental to the best interests of the pupils.
"The plea that a teacher who is obliged to travel from
one to two hours each way to and from school, and as a conse-
quence is not in physical condition to do her best work, must
be met by considerate action on a request for a transfer when
a favorable opportunity is presented."2
New York, as previously noted, began early to give the
principal latitude in the selection of new teachers, even after
regulations placed certain limitations on choice from eligible
lists. For example, even though selection was confined to the
three highest candidates on the eligible lists, principals were
urged to consult the lists in advance, to interview desirable
candidates, and to avail themselves of every opportunity to secure
Principals frequently asked to have vacancies held open
for a time in order to secure substitutes who were in charge of
the classes, in which vacancies occurred. The attitude of the
Board of Superintendents in New York regarding this policy was
expressed as follows:
1Tenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of Schools
of the City of New York, 1908, p. 267.
2Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1913, p. 223.
Thirteenth Annual Report of the City SuDerintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1911, p. 177.
"While the good of the school seems to indicate that at
times a vacancy should be held open, yet those on the eligible
list have a technical claim to appointment when vacancies
occur, a claim that the Committee recognizes as far as pos-
Principals were likewise given as much latitude as pos-
sible in selecting their assistants. One assistant was allowed
for each school having twenty-eight or more classes, and two for
each school having forty-eight or more classes.2 A principal was
entitled to a seat and a vote on the Board of Superintendents in
New York whenever appointments of Assistants or teachers for his
school were being made.
When principals were compelled to accept from certified
lists candidates concerning whose work they had no previous
knowledge, they demanded the right to reject the candidates if,
after a trial, their services proved unsatisfactory. In Chicago,
the principal was allowed to request the withdrawal of a candidate
within the first week of service if her work proved unsatisfactory.3
Principals in St. Louis were also permitted to reject unsatisfac-
tory candidates. Primary Supervisor Gecks reported in 1915 re-
garding the effect of this policy as follows:
"Principals are more exacting with teachers than they
could afford to be some years ago, and are not willing to
keep, or appoint, a substitute in their schools unless she
measures up to certain requirements in personality and train-
Evidence that the principal's role in the selection of his
staff has not been concisely determined even at a comparatively
recent date, is furnished by the following passage in the report
in 1930 of District Superintendent Grady of New York:
"I am sure that the principals would welcome the issuance
by the Division of Transfer and Assignment of a formal state-
ment of the policies followed in connection with the transfer
of teachers, the assignment of excesses, the retransfer of
teachers who have been in excess, assignments to maternity
leaves, and the use made of the blanks which call for the
signature of the present principal and the district superin-
IFourteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1912, pp. 213-14.
2Ibid., p. 215.
3Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1902, p. 5.
4Sixty-flrst Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1915, p. 38.
tendent. In several cases, the fact that both disapproved
transfer applications did not prevent the transfers."1
Assignment of teachers within the school.- The freedom of
the principal in assigning teachers to the various grades within
his school was hampered in some city systems by the allowance of
special salaries, or bonuses to teachers in the upper grades of
the school. A shift to one of these grades, consequently, assumed
the nature of a promotion. In New York, where this condition ex-
isted, the principal and district superintendent were required to
make written recommendations where increase of salary was involved,
setting forth the candidate's experience and other qualifications.
This recommendation was then passed upon by the board of superin-
tendents.2 Where no change of salary was involved, the board of
superintendents did not interfere with the principals' assign-
ments unless a "manifest lack of good judgment was shown."3
The assignment of teachers has consistently been one of
the most exacting administrative duties of the principal. Super-
intendent Maxwell, in 1904, stated in a bulletin to principals:
"Upon the proper assignment of teachers to duty, as much
as any other one thing, depends the success or failure of a
teacher's work. To this subject the best thought of the
principal should be given. It is as great a test of execu-
tive ability and of principalship as any other element of
However, the problem still appeared to be serious in 1926, as
shown by the following passage from the superintendent's report:
"Careful attention should be given to the assignment of
inexperienced teachers, of teachers who have recently re-
turned from serious illness, and of teachers who are suffering
from weakness or infirmity. Such teachers should be assigned
to classes that do not require the expenditure of much nervous
and physical energy. Newly appointed teachers should be
assigned to classes in the second and third years, as far as
possible, and should be given a considerable amount of sympa-
thetic help. Particularly should they be trained in the art
1Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent
of Schools of the City of New York, 1930, p. 376.
2Eleventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1909, p. 314.
3Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., pp. 223-24.
Sixth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
of questioning, in the power to interest, and also in the
ability to modulate their voices."1
The principal's role in local school organization.- Dis-
satisfaction with lockstep methods which resulted from stereotyped
methods of classification and overcrowding of buildings, led to
experimentation with various types of local organization. One of
the first of these was departmentalization of work in the upper
grades of the elementary school. Superintendent Maxwell advocated
the gradual introduction of departmental teaching in New York in
1899, and stated that experiments conducted by several principals
at his request, justified the policy.2 Superintendent Cooley in
1905 published several sample programs of departmental organiza-
tion in Chicago schools, with accompanying explanatory reports.3
In 1913, Assistant Superintendent Rathmann of St. Louis reported
that five schools in his district were utilizing departmental in-
struction in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and in none
of the schools so organized were the principals desirous of dis-
continuing it.4 Departmental teaching of drawing, music, and
sewing in Grades IV-VI, as a means of improving results in these
subjects, was advocated to New York principals in 1926.5
Multiple systems of grading, and the division of pupils
into slow, medium, and fast groups were also subjects of experiment
by principals in attempting better to fit the work to pupils.
Associate Superintendent StraubenmUller of New York, in commenting
on the comprehensive report of an experiment in a triple system
of grading submitted by one of his principals, wrote as follows:
"I desire to say that to Mr. Goldwassers is due the
credit for the apparent success of the classes, because of
the zeal, industry, and intelligence displayed by him not
only in the reorganization of his school but also in the
preparation of the minimum course of study."6
Superintendent McAndrew discussed trial of the platoon plan in
iTwenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent
of Schools of the City of New York, 1926, p. 25.
2First Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
3Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1905, pp. 170-71.
4Fifty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1913, p. 42.
Tqwenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., p. 263.
6Thirteenth Annual Report of the City superintendent,
op. cit., p. 239.
Chicago in 1925, as follows:
"The principals trying it are level-headed school managers
who are to be allowed to work out their experiment safe from
Other procedures of principals to meet the individual
needs of pupils appeared during the first decades of the present
century. In 1907, Superintendent Cooley called attention to the
fact that Chicago principals should co-operate more generally in
making semi-annual promotions, in the eighth-grade, since the
policy was adopted, years before, on the recommendation of prin-
cipals.2 New York principals had authority in 1908 to organize
over-age classes,3 and in 1912, freedom to group pupils according
to ability and arrange the course of study to fit such groups.
In 1910, a principal reported on the organization of an open-
window room in Chicago;4 in 1913, principals of St. Louis were
permitted to open ungraded rooms; and in 1930, an account of an
experiment of a New York principal with a class of pupils of low
I.Q. was included in the report of a district superintendent.6
Policies adapted by principals to meet the problem of
overcrowding were formation of. half-day divisions (Chicago, 1908),
and use of certain classrooms over an extended school day (New
Special responsibilities relating to organization.- In
1908, principals in Chicago were required by the President of the
Board of Education to fill out a questionnaire on the management
of their schools; in 1912, principals in New York were reminded
that they were free to adopt the courses of study to meet community
needs; in 1916, principals in St. Louis were advised to take stock
of each year's work in order to organize efficiently for the coming
year; in 1925, principals in Chicago were instructed as school
managers to have a fully planned program for each day; in 1926,
principals in New York were commended for devising plans for uni-
1Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools of
Chicago, 1925, p. 70.
2Fifty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1907, pp. 134-35.
3Tenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
4Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1910, p. 115.
5Fifty-ninth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 42.
6Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., pp. 350-51.
flied and economical class routine and for administering their
time schedules effectively; and in 1927, principals in St. Louis
were advised that they were responsible for effectively utilizing
all available facilities designed to benefit school work.
Other responsibilities of principals related to organiza-
tion were the calling and placing of substitutes (St. Louis, 1909),
the determination, and evaluation, of work done by pupils in
summer schools (Chicago, 1913), the management of baths, libraries,
and teachers' leaves (Chicago, 1925), co-operation with superin-
tendents in determining standards for rating schools (New York,
1930). New policies with respect to organization enunciated by
superintendents were that principals should not be required to ad-
minister a high school branch in their buildings (New York, 1913);
that principals might profitably utilize teacher opinion in the
formulation of school policies (Chicago, 1914); that a standard
school should meet ten specific requirements (Chicago, 1925); and
that principals should be utilized temporarily by the central
office in special supervisory projects (St. Louis, 1927).
New duties connected with pupil personnel.- The respon-
sibilities of principals with respect to administration of pupils
after 1900, as revealed by board reports, were largely those con-
nected with the enforcement of attendance, and the issuance of
work permits under child labor laws. In 1904, Superintendent
Cooley reminded principals of their authority to suspend immedi-
ately pupils who participated in strikes.1 In 1907, Chicago
principals showed a decreasing tendency to punish pupils by sus-
pending them, only 80 of the 292 boys sent to the Parental School
having been previously suspended. Principals in Chicago were ad-
vised in 1903 that they had authority to issue school certificates,
and in 1908 that they were authorized, under statute, to excuse
pupils from attendance to meet work certificate provisions. New
York principals were authorized, in 1909, to give examinations to
pupils who wanted to qualify for school record certificates.
The attention given to atypical pupils brought a number
of new responsibilities to principals. Among these were the send-
ing of pupils to dispensaries, the selection of backward pupils
to be examined as candidates for subnormal treatment (Chicago,
1907), and the maintaining of co-operative relations with visiting
teachers (New York, 1930).
Office organization.- Recognition by school authorities
of the principal's office as the "hub" of the school's activities
was shown by provisions made in building plans for the office lay-
out of the principal. Subsequent to 1915, provisions began to
IChicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1904, p. 151.
appear in building plans for special filing space, waiting room
for pupils and patrons, places for special equipment, and accommo-
dations for a clerk. The clerical duties which had early been
delegated to assistants-to-the-principal grew more complex and
burdensome and were gradually placed in the hands of clerks or
teachers assigned to clerical work on teachers certificates.
New York, in 1904, had changed from a system of utilizing
regularly assigned teachers to do clerical work, to assigning
substitute teachers as clerks. Principals were allowed to nominate
the candidates whom they wanted, such appointments being limited
to five months.1 This system gave general satisfaction. In 1908,
Associate Superintendent Edson reported as follows regarding the
"There are comparatively few regular teachers performing
clerical service, and this number is growing less from year
to year. The substitution of a teacher with a substitute's
license for a high salaried grade teacher as clerk is made as
opportunity is presented. In nearly every school where regu-
lar grade teachers or assistants to principals now act as
clerks, a change might be made at once at a great saving in
expense and with but little, if any, disadvantage to the
"The increase during the year of 114 teachers to do cler-
ical service is due to a change in the by-laws whereby schools
of forty-eight or more classes are allowed a second additional
teacher. In these large schools the clerical duties are heavy,
and these duties must be performed by low salaried clerks or
by high salaried assistants to principals. These additional
teachers also serve as substitute teachers in the absence of
regular class teachers when other substitutes cannot be ob-
In Chicago, the Board of Education following several years
of consideration, in 1909 established the position of "extra-
teacher," allowing one such assistant for office work in each
elementary school having twenty-five or more divisions. Superin-
tendent Young, in commenting on this policy, wrote as follows:
"This has freed the principals and in most cases has en-
abled the person at the head of educational affairs in the
school to be more closely identified with the work of educa-
1Sixth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
2Tenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
* tion than is possible when a large part of that person's time
is occupied in keeping records, writing letters, and answer-
ing questions pertaining to minor affairs in the school.
. . The withdrawal of superintendents and principals to
their offices tends to develop an ideal of school and school
life that omits many of the most perplexing and interesting
problems that arise. This withdrawal develops invariably a
machine-like administration of school affairs, increasing the
amount of work to be accomplished, and disregarding the fact
that the power generated instead of being increased is
By 1913, New York had increased the allowance of clerks
on the basis of school size, assigning one clerk to schools having
from twelve to fifty-seven classes, two to schools having from
fifty-eight to sixty-seven classes, and three to schools having
sixty-eight, or more, classes.2 In 1915, when the classes of
schools in Chicago authorized to have clerks were reduced, Super-
intendent Young commented as follows:
"Because of financial conditions the clerks in schools
having a membership of less than 1,400 have been removed for t
the remainder of the fiscal year. This will remand the prin-
cipals to their offices and restrict their personal activities
in furthering the advancement of the twenty and the ten per
cent at the extremes of the school in each grade. Some prin-
cipals will take home the routine work of the office and
attend to it in the evening. They will do this willingly,
and yet it is not for the good of the school. Something be-
sides routine work should occupy the mind and time of prin-
cipals in the evening, if they are to lead, encourage, and
inspire a school."3
The clerks mentioned in the foregoing passage were eventu-
ally restored in the system, but in 1927, due to a court ruling,
the teacher-clerks were replaced with civil service employees.
The prevailing basis for assigning clerks, a part-time clerk for
schools having less than thirty classes, and a full-time clerk
for schools having thirty or more classes, was preserved. Studies
reported in the Seventh Yearbook showed that in 1927, clerks in
17 cities over 100,000 were assigned on a median of 14.5 teachers,
Fifty-sixth Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 93-94.
2Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op.
cit., pp. 227-28.
3Sixty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1915, p. 30.
and in 8 cities, on a median of 950 pupils.1
The increase of new educational activities in the school
systems of large cities added to the amount of work to be done In
the principal's office. This was especially true of responsibili-
ties resulting from compulsory education laws, child labor laws,2
special divisions, and special schools.3 In 1915, the use of
tabulating machines was cited as reducing the work in offices of
the principals of New York,4 and in 1925, Superintendent McAndrew
reported that Chicago principals were protesting against elaborate
reports on activities which were often temporary in nature. In
1925, principals in New York were requested to organize their
work with the purpose of reducing telephone calls to the central
Equipment and supplies.- Additional routine duties with
respect to equipment and supplies were delegated to principals in
the opening years of the new century. In 1903, for example,
principals in St. Louis were requested to preserve old books for
collection, exercise proper supervision to preserve books, requi-
sition all supplies, and receive duplicate receipts for supplies
issued, keep a stock book showing books and supplies on hand,
issue books and supplies to teachers, make a detailed semi-annual
inventory of all stock on hand, and submit accounts and reports
for checking by the auditor.5 However, principals strove mainly
for a voice in the selection of, and method of distributing, sup-
plies and equipment. Superintendent Cooley in 1905 commented as
"It is suggested that principals and teachers make a care-
ful study of the whole matter of furnishing supplies, with the
object, first, of securing better methods of distributing and
using supplies in the schools which have greatly exceeded the
average in cost per pupil; and second, of forwarding to the
Superintendent of Schools their suggestions concerning the
system as a whole, with a view to its improvement."6
1Seventh Yearbook, op. cit., pp. 262-63.
2Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1903, p. 48.
3Fifty-eighth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1912, p. 165.
4Seventeenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1915, p. 159.
5Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1903, pp. 71-74.
6Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1905, p. 193.
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION LIBRARY
New York principals were criticized in 1905 for frequently
using their allowances for textbooks "unwisely," by Associate
Superintendent Edson. He advised them that if three hundred
geographies were needed in a certain school, it would cost no more
to get one hundred copies of each of three series than to get
three hundred copies of one series.1 In 1906, Chicago principals
were authorized to requisition special geography materials from
the Department of Geography in the central office,2 and in 1907,
they were permitted to collect money from pupils for the purchase
of materials and tools to be used in manual training and construc-
A committee of St. Louis principals in 1909 made recom-
mendations regarding changes in textbooks, which were adopted by
the Board.4 Principals in Chicago were given increased respon-
sibility in 1911 in connection with the running expenses of their
schools, by dividing the money for educational supplies pro rata
among the schools, and permitting the principals to order accord-
ing to their needs. Later separate quotas per pupil were estab-
lished for textbooks, supplementary books, maps, and work
Building and ground.- The rise of the business departments
of boards of education either under the direction of an assistant
superintendent or an officer co-ordinate with the superintendent,
resulted in the principals being relieved of most of the direct
responsibility connected with heating, ventilating, and cleaning
the school plant. This development was inevitable on account of
the growth in size of school plants, the intricacy of modern
heating and ventilating systems, and the growing demands of edu-
cational engineering on the part of the principal. Many principals
in large cities, however, resented what they deemed the encroach-
ment of the head-janitor, or engineer, on their administrative
prerogatives. As a result, in many cities, regulations were
issued specifically defining the responsibilities of principal and
engineer. The following excerpts of the amended rules adopted in
1Seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1905, p. 207.
2Fifty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1906, p. 110.
3Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1907, p. 288.
4Fifty-flfth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St: Louis, 1909, p. 43.
5Superintendent's Bulletin, Chicago Public Schools,
(January 22, 1931), p. 90.
Chicago in 1905 indicated a great departure from early board rules
in which the principal was sole director of all activities con-
nected with the care of the plant:
"Engineers and Janitors. General Duties.- Engineers and
Janitors of school buildings shall have the sole charge of
their school buildings out of school hours. Principals and
engineers and janitors shall be furnished with keys to out-
side entrance doors and to pass key to inside doors of their
respective buildings. They shall on no pretense part with
the custody of keys of outside entrance doors to any person,
without special permission from the business manager or the
"It shall be the duty of the business manager to provide
and have set up in the office of each building, or in such
other suitable and convenient place as he may designate, a
keyboard, with a lock and two keys only, one key for the prin-
cipal and one for the engineer or janitor. Principals, or in
their absence the engineer or janitor, shall open the key-
boards at the hour of eight o'clock a.m. in order that the
teachers having charge of classrooms may obtain possession of
the keys of their rooms for the admission of pupils. The keys
are to be replaced on the keyboard by the teachers of the
various rooms not later than four o'clock p.m., as provided
in Sec. 157.
"Supervision of heating apparatus, etc.- The engineers and
janitors shall have exclusive control of the heating apparatus,
under the direction of the chief engineer, but they shall com-
ply with the requirements of principals and teachers in respect
to the temperature to be maintained, provided such requirements
do not conflict with Sec. 229 of the Rules, or with any order
given by the chief engineer.
"Under no circumstances is there to be any sweeping done
while the schools are in session, except by permission of the
principal of the school.
"Engineers not to leave heating apparatus.- During the
season school buildings are required to be heated no engineer
shall be required by a principal to leave his steam-heating
apparatus to take charge of pupils in or about the school
buildings or grounds.
"Engineers and janitors are expected to be respectful to
principals and teachers at all times and to render such
assistance as will not conflict with their duties as defined
"Principals and engineers and janitors will be required
to comply with all requests and instructions emanating from
the office of the Architect, Business Manager, or Chief En-
gineer, relative to repairs, supplies, or other matters per-
taining to their various departments."1
.The President of the Board of Education in Chicago, after
a tour of inspection of schools in 1908, reported in part as fol-
"Derelict engineers and janitors were reminded of their
duties. Principals were reminded that they were principals
of their schools and responsible in a measure for their general
The President completed inspection of 240 schools a year later.
After stating that the physical conditions of the schools were
much improved, he continued:
"Only in a few instances it became necessary to cite the
responsible engineer for trial on account of the filthy con-
dition of the building. It may be remarked here that such a
condition reflects as much on the efficiency of the principal
as of the engineer; being constantly on the premises, it
should not be for the president, or for the inspectors of the
Board, to discover filth."3
In New York, principals apparently made themselves factors
in the planning of buildings, as evidenced by the following state-
ments in the 1926 report:
"That recommendations for the planning and equipment of
school buildings should be complete and final. If a principal
or director is to have a voice in the planning of the building,
his views should be considered before the first set of recom-
mendations is submitted. If a principal is selected after the
planning of the building, he should accept the building as
planned without assuming the role of a critic empowered to in-
dicate how he would have planned and equipped the structure."4
Miscellaneous administrative activities.- A large number
of responsibilities of the principal do not appear in rules and
regulations of school boards, nor yet in the pronouncement of
superintendents, but result from the creative efforts of the
principals themselves. Most of the activities of this type reach
1Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1905, pp. 197-99.
2Fifty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1908, p. 20.
Fifty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1909, p. 25.
4Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
on. cit., p. 150.
the superintendent's annual report through the medium of the re-
ports of assistant superintendents, or through the reports of
principals themselves. The data of Table II are representative
of activities inaugurated by principals from 1915 to 1930:
ACTIVITIES INITIATED BY PRINCIPALS FROM 1915 TO 1930
Activity Year City
Pupils clubs .......................... 1915 St. Louis
Supervision of playground activities at
recess .............................. 1915 St. Louis
School newspaper ...................... 1915 St. Louis
Pupil activities for promoting courtesy 1925 Chicago
Safety patrols ........................ 1925 Chicago
Clean-up campaigns .................... 1925 Chicago
Providing clothing and food for poor .. 1925 Chicago
Equipping schools with motion picture
machines ............................ 1926 New York
Experimental work in character educa-
tion ................................. 1928 New York
Radio instruction ..................... 1929 New York
Administrative duties recently prescribed by school
boards.- The latest rules and regulations promulgated by the
school boards of large cities tend to delegate large general func-
tions rather than detailed specific duties to principals. For
example, the duties delegated to principals in Chicago are con-
tained in a single paragraph:
"Sec. 1 (Principals.) Principals of schools are respon-
sible administrative heads of their respective schools, and
are charged with the organization, supervision, and adminis-
tration thereof. They shall establish and enforce such regu-
lations, not contrary to the rules of the Board of Education
or the regulations of the Superintendent as may in their
judgment be necessary for the successful conduct of their
The Board of Education in Cleveland has rules which are similar
in form and content.2 Boston delegates both broad general powers
1Proceedings of the Board of Education of Chicago, 1933,
2Administrative Code of the Board of Education of Cleve-
land, 1925, p. 25.
and detailed duties to principals of that city. The general
powers are contained in the following passage:
"Principals of schools and districts and directors of de-
partments are the responsible administrative heads of their
respective schools, districts, or departments, and are charged
with the organization thereof and with the supervision and
direction of their subordinates and pupils, and with the gen-
eral maintenance of order and discipline. They shall see
that the rules and regulations of the School Committee, the
directions of its officers, and the established course of
study are observed; and they may establish and enforce such
regulations not contrary to the general rules and regulations,
orders of the school committee and instructions of the super-
intendent or of the assistant superintendent in charge, as
may, in their opinion, be advisable for the successful con-
duct of their schools, districts, or departments. They may
require their subordinates to keep such records and to make
such reports as they deem necessary."1
Specific regulations require that the principal shall "patiently
hear and impartially investigate" all complaints from parents and
others, and strive to redress real grievances; that he shall
direct teachers and custodians in conducting fire drills; that he
shall keep full records of all gifts made to his school and dis-
play no work of art not approved by the art commission.2
The regulations of the Board of Education of Baltimore
regarding the duties of principals likewise contain both general
and specific requirements. It is specified that principals shall
promptly report school accidents, permit no one except general
supervisors to interrupt teaching, give out no addresses of
pupils to outside individuals, refrain from engaging the school
in activities sponsored by outside agencies, and limit parent-
teacher entertainments to nights preceding school holidays.3
The Attitude of the Superintendent
The extent of the principal's authority and influence de-
pends more on the attitude of the superintendent than upon the
wording of board rules. Two cities may have rules almost identical;
1Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1926,
2Ibid., pp. 99-103.
3Rules of the Board of School Commissloners of Baltimore,
1929, pp. 20-25, and Supplement, 1930, p. 5.
yet in one city the principal may freely exercise administrative
initiative, while in the other he may have all initiative dwarfed
by the demands of a bureaucratic central office. A superintendent
may change the whole policy of local school administrators by un-
due emphasis on a given phase of the school work, or he may stimu-
late creative administration of the highest type by encouraging
the adaptation of each school to local needs. The following in-
terpretation of the principal's functions by Superintendent
Gerling of St. Louis illustrates the principle:
"The principal is regarded as the executive head of his
school. He stands in the line of authority, and every ele-
ment of local school control is exercised through him.
Corollary to this fact the principal is the responsible agent
in the school for all phases of management and instruction.
It is the business of the principal to secure the best pos-
sible educational results and to do this with the utmost
efficiency. All types of special service which are extended
to the schools by the Board of Education are to be utilized
in the school under his direction.
"St. Louis has long been known for the outstanding quality
of the principals who have been placed in charge of the various
schools. These principals have been selected for the most
part, not only because they possess a high degree of training
for their work, but because of the personal qualities which
they possess for leadership in the field of education. The
school principal in St. Louis is expected (1) to direct all
supervisory activities in his school, (2) to utilize effi-
ciently and economically all materials and service supplied
by the Board of Education for educational purposes, (3) to
find harmonious solutions for various problems growing out of
community relations with the school, (4) to render accurate
reports and keep accurate records, and to so organize and ad-
minister the school as to secure the best educational results."l
General supervisors and teachers, as well as principals, soon
sense the attitude of the superintendent when concisely expressed,
and this attitude, in a large measure, is the deciding factor in
determining the administrative responsibilities of the principal.
Seventy-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1930, p. 23.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUPERVISORY FUNCTIONS
OF THE PRINCIPAL
In dealing with the supervisory functions of the principal,
the necessity for a practical definition of the term "supervisory"
at once becomes apparent. The most common, and owing to its func-
tional nature perhaps the best, definition is that supervision is
the technique for improving teaching.1 However, it is frequently
difficult to distinguish between supervisory and administrative
activities of principals; consequently it becomes necessary to
list the activities which should be placed under the head
"supervisory." The purpose of an activity is the determining
factor in its classification. Testing, for example, is an admin-
istrative activity when used to classify a pupil newly entering a
school, but it is a supervisory activity later when used by the
principal in the classroom to diagnose the pupil's learning dif-
ficulties. The activities most commonly listed in studies of
supervisory procedures are class observation, individual con-
ferences with teachers, testing and measuring, demonstration
teaching, pupil study and adjustment, and teachers' meetings.
The data here presented suggest six main supervisory activities:
(1) classroom visitation, (2) teachers' meetings, (3) tests and
measurements, (4) instruction in methods, (5) pupil adjustment,
and (6) teacher rating.
Supervisory activities were first exercised in public
schools by visiting committees of laymen, usually consisting of
the "learned" men of the town, the ministers and physicians.3
Later, the duty fell on the selectmen. These committees not
only visited the schools, but sampled the efficiency of instruc-
tion by examining the "scholars." After boards of education were
'The Principal Studies His Job, Research Bulletin of the
National Education Association, p. 92. Washington, D.C.:
National Education Association, 1928.
2Ibid., p. 94.
Walter H. Small, Early New England Schools, p. 334.
Boston: Ginn and Company, 1914.
established, schools were inspected, pupils examined, and teachers'
methods directed by official school committees. As cities grew in
size and the complexity of school organization increased, many of
the supervisory functions developed by the visiting committee were
delegated to the principal teacher of the school. This marked the
advent of the principal as a supervisor.
Supervisory Activities of Principals Prior to 1900
Care must be observed in recording the first supervisory
duties assigned to principal teachers by school trustees, in view
of the fact that many terms used in early reports had meanings
differing greatly from those they now possess. Classification was
frequently mentioned in the first accounts of principals' activi-
ties, but it was concerned almost altogether with the organization
of schools, and so must be classified as an administrative pro-
cedure. One of the earliest provisions dealing with supervision
by principals appeared in the report of the School Committee of
Cincinnati in 1841. It is significant that it bore the caption:
Improvement in Teaching. It read as follows:
"Resolved, That the Teachers in the Common Schools of the
City of Cincinnati, are hereby authorized to dismiss their
respective schools one hour earlier . . on each and every
Wednesday . . for practical improvement in the various
studies, lessons, and qualifications appertaining to their
professional duties; under the personal supervision of the
principal Teachers of each house or district . .
"Resolved, That the principal Teachers are requested, at
the close of the quarter to furnish the Board with a written
report as to the effects and probable results of this plan --
that if found to be useful it may be continued for a longer
Prior to 1841, a number of references were made in the
board reports of Cincinnati to the growing difficulty of members
of the Board to find time to attend properly to supervision of
the schools. Some members resigned; and others threatened to do
so,2 because of the burdens connected with the school duties.
The organization of a teachers' association was welcomed, because
of the professional backing and advice that the board might
receive from such an organization on the technical aspects of
iTwelfth Annual Report of the Common Schools of Cincinnati,
1841, p. 51.
2Tenth Annual Report of the Common Schools of Cincinnati,
1839, pp. 11-12.
school work.1 It should be noted that the meetings referred to
in the foregoing passage were to be held on school time. The
idea of freeing the principal for supervisory duties apparently
had not at that time gained serious consideration, but the pro-
vision indicates the willingness of the members of the coanittee
to turn over to the principal professional work which they were
not qualified to do, and to provide school time in which to do it.
The earliest superintendents on assuming office at first
failed to recognize the principal as the key to local supervision,
but as has already been indicated, the rapid increase in the num-
ber and size of schools soon precluded effective supervision from
the central office. Superintendent Wells, in his first discussion
of supervision in 1855, failed to mention principals, but four
years later he called attention to the necessity of freeing the
principals of large schools in order that they might give part of
their time to general supervision. Superintendent Guilford of
Cincinnati during the period 1850 to 1853, gave little space in
his reports to the supervisory activities of the principals. How-
ever, board regulations passed in 1856 specified that principals
should devote at least one hour daily for every two hundred pupils,
in attending to the general affairs of their schools. Among their
duties were "supervising and directing the labors of their assist-
ants," seeing that the pupils were "constantly and profitably em-
ployed during school hours," satisfying themselves, as often as
once a month, by examination, "of the progress and thoroughness
of each class" in all the departments of their schools, reporting
to the trustees on the effectiveness of teachers, and co-operating
with the superintendent "in advising and directing teachers as to
the best modes of instruction."2 (Thus, by the middle of the J-
Nineteenth Century, principals in Cincinnati had made beginnings
in teachers' meetings, classroom visits, pupil adjustment,
measurement of pupil progress, rating of teachers, and instruc-
tion in methods -- practically all of the modern supervisory
Factors favorable to the increase of supervision by the
principal accumulated rapidly in the third quarter of the Nine-
teenth Century. The grading of schools, installation of courses
of study, and the introduction of new subjects, such as music,
drawing, physiology, and physical education, required capable
direction, and special assistance to teachers. The policy of
freeing principals from a considerable portion of their teaching
ITwelfth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 4.
2Thirty-first Annual Report of the Common Schools of
Cincinnati, 1860, p. 84.
duties, which was very generally adopted in large cities during
the decade 1860-70 gave superintendents additional opportunity
to utilize the principal in meeting the new and growing super-
visory needs. Accordingly, the topic of supervisory functions of
the principal assumed an increasing importance in the rules of
boards of education, and in superintendents' reports.
In 1862, Superintendent Picard of Chicago listed visiting
of rooms, examining classes, conducting model exercises, and
supervising instruction, as certain of the activities of the
principal during his free time, and expressed his confidence that
the "satisfactory classification and instruction" then prevailing
would be impossible without the supervision of the principal.1
He secured passage by the Board of a provision permitting the
principal to hold monthly teachers' meetings for the discussion
of methods of instruction and discipline, and for discussion of
the general interests of the school.2 The following year, Super-
intendent Picard ascribed the progress he had observed in the
schools of Cincinnati chiefly to the supervision of principals.
He cited the devising of new methods and keeping abreast of im-
provements in other schools as activities of the Cincinnati
principals -- evidence that creative supervision has roots reach-
ing far back in our educational history.
That keen interest was shown in supervision by principals
at the time was further attested by comments of other superintend-
ents on practices in large school systems throughout the country.
A committee from Boston, including the Mayor and Superintendent
Philbrick, visited the schools of New York, and, in describing the
activities of the principals of that city, stated that they had
general supervision of the whole school, kept up a continual
round of inspection, examined pupils in various classrooms, gave
suggestions and directions to teachers, and moulded the instruc-
tion according to the extent of their ability and experience. It
was furthermore the opinion of the committee that, in a position
where the duties were so undefined, where so much was left to
individual judgment, and where indolence and negligence might go
so long unchecked, it was of the utmost importance to have as
principals the right sort of men.3
Superintendent Harris of St. Louis was another who fol-
lowed closely the supervisory practices of principals in other
1Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of Chicago,
1862, p. 37.
2Ibid., pp. 94-95.
3Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1867, p. 7.
cities. He was especially interested in the plan of placing the
primary schools which were tributary to a grammar school under
the supervision of the grammar-school principal. He cited the
success which the plan had encountered in such cities as Boston,
Chicago, and Cincinnati as an argument for adopting it in St.Louis.1
That this extension of the supervisory sphere of the principal met
with success in St. Louis is evidenced by a passage from the re-
port of Superintendent Harris four years later:
"For three years I have had to report great progress in
this direction. Our principals are rapidly becoming super-
visors as well as instructors and the schools under their
charge are becoming uniform in their degree of excellence.
Close daily supervision is the only method of securing the
desired result and one can scarcely believe how great a de-
gree of efficiency may be reached in a corps of teachers of
average ability, until he actually sees it as it exists in a
large school under the management of a principal who knows
how to perform his duty."2
( As recent as 1910, Dr. Harris was quoted by Superintendent Blewett
as stating that the supervising principalship did more to elevate
instruction than all the other factors combined.3/
The foregoing passages emphasized the desire of Superin-
tendents for continuity of materials and methods of instruction in
primary and grammar grades. At the time, oral instruction, ob-
ject teaching, and uniform examinations were the order of the day,4
and principals were undoubtedly expected by general supervisors
to put these procedures into practice throughout the school. A
suggestion of lock-step standards was contained in a discussion by
Associate Superintendent Calkins of the influence exercised by
capable principals on the teaching in primary schools of New York.
In his estimation, the principal was the greatest factor in the
quality of work found in the classroom, justifying the saying,
"as is the principal, so is the school." The principal should
direct the work of the teachers "in unison"; he should know what
each class was doing at any hour; and he should have all teachers
1Fifteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1867, p. 133.
2Seventeenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1871, p. 188.
3Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1910, p. 144.
4Thirty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Cleveland, 1868, pp. 41-47.
intelligently working "on the same general plan" and "accomplish-
ing nearly the same excellent results." Principals should examine
their classes more than the required "twice a year," and should
not find it necessary to ask teachers about facts which every
good principal should know about the work of the school, when
visited by supervisors.1
The training of new teachers presented a serious problem
for the principal of the sixties. Often the sole source of supply
was the graduating classes of the grammar schools, and teachers
were frequently called upon to teach, without previous training or
experience, in the very grades and rooms through which they had
passed but a few years earlier. Superintendent Rickoff of Cleve-
land, in 1869, estimated that scarcely a dozen of the one hundred
and seventy teachers of his force had had any professional train-
ing, and stated that regardless of natural endowment, they could
not be expected to work together, or even carry through the
courses of instruction, without daily supervision of principals.2
Teacher turnover was rapid,3 moreover, increasing the constant
recruitment necessary because of the steady growth of the school
Discussing teacher training in 1867, Superintendent
Harding of Cincinnati recommended the establishment of a training
department in a district school under the direction of the prin-
cipal. Continuing, he stated that all of the schools were
"training schools, in one sense" that the principals devoted their
whole time to supervision and giving assistance to teachers, and
that while some principals impressed themselves more effectively
on their schools than others, all exerted themselves faithfully
to secure "first-class instruction."4
( Contacts of early principals with superintendents.- In
almost all the large cities, superintendents held regular meetings
with their principals, for the purpose of disseminating methods
designed to improve instruction. In St. Louis, supervising prin-
cipals were required to submi reports to the superintendent on
each visit to tributary schools. They were expected to visit the
schools once each week, to confer with the building principals,
to observe general conditions, to examine classes, to determine
ITwenty-sixth Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 70-72.
2Thirty-second Annual Report, o2. cit., p. 119.
3Thirtieth Annual Report of the Board of Education of the
City of New York, 1871, p. 247.
4Thirty-eighth Annual Report of the Common Schools of
Cincinnati, 1867, pp. 22-23.
promotions of pupils, to observe the efficiency of teachers in
discipline and instruction, and to report the date and amount of
time consumed in each visit.1 Superintendents usually visited
each school several times during the year,2 even in New York,
Boston, and Chicago, where assistant superintendents were avail-
The question of how much independence the principal should
be allowed in initiating supervisory policies -- a question common
to present-day school administration -- had an early origin.
Superintendent Harris, inj Zl, expressed a modern, as well as
comprehensive, view on this absorbing topic, stating that
"there should be as much local freedom or independence given
as is consistent with the attainment of the general object in
view. A prescribed method which all must follow is liable to
lead to a mechanical routine. To hold subordinate officers
accountable for results, and leave them a wide scope in the
choice of methods, has proved most effective in developing
the strength of the whole.
"The guiding principle in defining the duties of the
supervising principals is this: Local supervision should not
be extended so far as to encroach on central supervision,
that of the general superintendent, nor so far on the other
hand as to relieve of responsibility the subordinate princi-
pals. An equilibrium of these interests must be preserved.
It is obvious that unless there is harmony of action between
these, there cannot result any good from the endeavor of the
Superintendent. Independence in the proper sense of the term
is to be achieved not through mutual limitation, but rather
through mutual agreement and concert of action. All must
carry out the same plan and that plan must be broad enough to
comprehend the purposes of each."3
Continuing, Dr. Harris discussed another point on which general
agreement does not exist today, namely, the question of whether
the principal should do any teaching:
"It must not be forgotten that the nature of supervision
of a principal differs, and should differ, in kind from that
of the superintendent.
"The principal should be a teacher; should do some teach-
ing each day. He looks at the work of his school from the
ISeventeenth Annual Report, op. cit., p. xxviii (Appendix).
2Thirty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1885, p. 19.
3Seventeenth Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 189-90.
point of view of its minute details, while the superintendent
sees more clearly its general results and their value compared
with the standard of all the schools. By means of this two-
fold supervision, each teacher's work is seen from two points
of view. For this reason it will not gain the same end if we
increase the corps of superintendents, nor if we make too few
local superintendents -- for then they would have no time to
Supervising the materials of instruction.- New York had a
course of study as early as 1854; Chicago, in 1861; and Cleveland
in 1868. In 1860, principals in New York were criticized for try-
ing to cover too much material in the lower grades, and not effec-
tively utilizing the course of study.2 In 1866, principals in
St. Louis were advised to confer frequently with teachers on the
"kind and amount of work" to be done, "as well as with respect to
the best methods of instruction."3 A board regulation in New
York in 1865 made it mandatory for the superintendent and his
assistants to ascertain at each visitation of a school, whether
provisions of the course of study were being followed, and to re-
port to the Board any violation of the provisions, together with
the name of the principal in whose school the violation occurred.
Examinations were required by board rules and were given at
stated periods. Their chief purpose undoubtedly was to remind
the principal that the course of study was to be followed, and
that the grading of the school was to be preserved. Time
schedules for courses were in use as early as 1870.
Use of examinations to evaluate the principal's super-
vision.- The belief in the efficacy of examinations led school
boards and superintendents not only to utilize this device in
evaluating pupil ability, but in determining the ability of prin-
cipals and teachers as well. The regulation of the Board in New
York furnished an effective account of the factors considered in
rating the supervision of the principal.
"Whenever the Superintendent of Schools shall deem it ad-
visable to direct any school, or class therein, to be examined,
it shall be the duty of the Principal of said School to pro-
vide him or his assistants with a statement showing the number
of pupils taught in the class, the length of time in it, their
llbid., p. 190.
2Nineteenth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1860, p. 43.
3Twelfth Annual Report of the Board of Education of St.
Louis, 1866, p. 45.
age, the studies pursued, the progress of the pupils therein,
together with their advantages for intellectual improvement
out of school; and this statement shall be furnished to the
Superintendent or his Assistants as a means of enabling them,
in their examination, to form an estimate of the progress
made by the pupils; and further, each school shall be judged
as to whether it has been conducted properly by the Principal,
or taught satisfactorily by the teacher, solely by a careful
consideration of the peculiar circumstances of the school or
class under examination; and in determining the qualifications
and duties performed by the class teachers, due consideration
shall be given to the amount of advice, co-operation, or
assistance given by the Principal to the teachers of said
classes in their class duties."1
In Cincinnati, an implied, rather than direct, use was
made of the results of examinations in evaluating the work of the
principal. The name of the school, the name of the principal,
the names and averages of the class of each teacher, and the rank
of each school were published. Disparities in the averages
secured by the pupils of various teachers were discussed, and low
ratings were attributed "serious defects in the teaching if not
in the superintendence." The examination questions were sent,
sealed, to the principal with explicit directions for administer-
ing, and the papers were marked by committees of principals, with
the provision, however, that no principal might participate in
marking papers from his own school.2 The Board commended the
principals for the time and energy they expended in making the
examinations a success, but, unfortunately, no records are avail-
able of the private reactions of the principals to such stringent
criteria and "pitiless publicity" of the results of their work.
The concrete reactions of the principals of New York to the pub-
licity feature of the examinations in their schools has been
treated in a previous chapter.
Subject supervision by the principal.- The data concern-
ing the supervision of various subjects of the curriculum by the
principal during the last half of the Nineteenth Century are very
meager, with the exception of those of New York City. The chief
reason for the lack of data was that superintendents usually dis-
cussed theory, rather than supervision, of instruction when they
Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education
of the City of New York, 1868, pp. 26-27.
2Fifth Annual Report of the Common Schools of Cincinnati,
1872, pp. 43-49.
referred to subjects in their reports. Practically the only
sources of information regarding subject supervision by principals
were reports of associate and district superintendents of New
York, and even these contain statements of what principals, in
the opinion of the Superintendents, should do rather than what
the principals themselves actually planned and practiced. An
ideal source of material -- records or reports of principals con-
cerning their activities -- was included but rarely in superintend-
Principals in New York were experimenting in 1870 with
Leigh's Pronouncing Orthography, and in 1871, its use was permitted,
at the option of the principals, in all the schools.2 In the same
year it was pointed out that principals should inspect reading
books, select passages most appropriate to the age of the class
and fitted "to cultivate a taste for useful reading," indicate the
order in which the passages were to be read, and mark expressions
needing explanation by the teacher, in order to eliminate "too
prevalent profitless readingV3 In 1874, the principal was advised
to designate approximately the number of lessons to be read by a
class in a given time, and not to permit this "to depend upon the
caprice of the teacher."4 Progress in the amount of reading still
was a problem for the assistant superintendents in New York in
1878. Complaint was made that there was no valid reason why the
character of the primary reading should be "at best only stationary."
Indication that thought-getting was receiving some emphasis ap-
peared in the statement that if all principals of primary schools
would give reading the same attention that many were giving it,
"mechanical reading, which is nearly destitute of thought," would
The construction of supplementary lists of familiar words
for use in reading was cited in 1881 as an activity practiced by
efficient principals and worthy of emulation by all principals.6
1Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1898,
2Thirtieth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 217.
Ibid., pp. 214-15.
4Thirty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1874, p. 284.
5Thirty-seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education
of the City of New York, 1878, p. 153.
6Fortieth Annual Report of the Board of Education of the
City of New York, 1881, p. 142.
In 1886, principals in Chicago were praised for having
made, through "personal efforts," "most excellent collections" of
books for supplementary use in reading. It was stated that the
Board had made beginnings in libraries, but that the effective
use of the library depended on the principal.1 In 1888, reading
in the grades in Chicago was reported as "very gratifying" and it
was stated that instructions given teachers as to the amount re-
sulted in very perceptible improvement in that branch of study.
Principals were instructed to make reading the basis of promotion
to the second grade, without regard for spelling, numbers, or
Spelling received much attention in the latter decades of
the century. Principals in 1873 were advised to make graded lists
of spelling words for the use of their teachers; in 1879, to
supervise the selection and number of words to be taken from read-
ing lessons so that the lists would be properly graded; and in
1883, they were commended for having "impressed on their teachers
the necessity of carefully reviewing the words taught in the pre-
Principals in New York were commended in 1884 for gains
made in handwriting,4 and in 1890 they were authorized to deter-
mine the period, prior to "the beginning of the fourth half-year,"
at which writing with a pen might begin.
In 1879, principals were reminded that they should super-
vise the detection and correction of pupils' errors in oral
English,6 and in 1893, they were directed to consider ways of
limiting the time devoted to technical grammar, and to utilize
the tima thus saved, for reading.7
An assistant superintendent recommended, in 1873, that a
graded system of drawing be made obligatory on principals, for
LThirty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1886, p. 51.
2Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1888, p. 72.
3Forty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1883, p. 140.
4Forty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1884, p. 169.
5Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1890, p. 134.
6Thirty-eighth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1879, p. 161.
7Fifty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1893, p. 135.
otherwise it would be "useless to look for satisfactory results."1
Deficiencies in methods in arithmetic were charged to
principals in New York as early as 1874. One of the phases of
arithmetic which caused considerable concern to the principal's
superior officers in 1882 was weights and measures. It still was
a problem ten years later, when the superintendent quoted from
the teachers' manual as follows:
"The fundamental instruction in these tables of measure
is given in the higher Primary and lower Grammar grades. In
the latter grades the class teachers are, for the most part,
the youngest and least experienced, and they are, naturally,
the most dependent upon the Principals for advice and direc-
tion; and a wise Principal will not make the mistake of taking
it for granted that a knowledge of the several relations of
measures expressed in a table proves a teacher's knowledge of
the meaning and uses of the measures themselves. The fact
that the teachers of these lower grades are constantly pro-
moted to higher grades by reason of vacancies occurring above
them imposes anew upon the several Principals the task of
training up the newly appointed teachers; but the time spent
in and the labor devoted to this work in the very lowest
grade ought to bear good fruit in each succeeding grade to
which those teachers may be transferred."2
In 1894, marked improvement in the teaching of arithmetic
was credited to "effective supervision on the part of the prin-
cipals.3 Principals in Boston made allowance for teachers' ini-
tiative in their supervision of arithmetic, according to the
report of a general supervisor:
"The methods of teaching arithmetic in the grammar schools
partake of the variety observed in other work. It is not
usual for the principal, though he is responsible for the in-
struction, to prescribe methods of work. The teachers are
allowed all the freedom that is consistent with the maintenance
of a system of instruction, and occasionally even more."4
Thirty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1873, p. 311.
2Fifty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1892, pp. 132-35.
3Fifty-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1894, p. 129.
4Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1895,
The data on the supervision of history and geography by
the principal for the period are very meager, and are usually
limited to discussions of checking on course of study require-
ments, seeing that teachers conducted reviews of materials of the
previous grade,l and supplying classrooms with maps and globes.2
Analysis of the foregoing data indicates certain major
trends in the supervision of academic subjects by the principal
and his general supervisors. Considerable emphasis was placed on
the grading of materials, a natural outcome of the grading of
schools and mass methods necessitated by large schools' and crowded
classrooms. Progress in each subject, with the goals specifically
set for each teacher to follow, was also stressed. Undoubtedly
the prevalence of large numbers of new, untrained teachers made
even moderately uniform progress in each grade a serious problem
for the principal.
Creative supervisory projects of principals.- One of the
brightest features of the principals' supervision during the
period under discussion was the initiation of projects new to the
system, in their schools. In almost all the cases where new
projects, such as cooking classes,3 sewing instruction,4 manual
training activities5 and the like were extensively discussed in
the board reports, principals' descriptions of, and comments on,
the projects were reported in full. Comprehensive reports by
principals on such topics as the relation of the kindergarten to
primary Instruction, inventive projects, and constructive work
in the elementary grades7 were included in the reports of superin-
tendents. Principals were usually instrumental in interesting
prominent citizens of large cities in the values of instruction
in the new subjects, especially in the manual and domestic arts,
with the result that often financial aid was forthcoming until
'Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1876, p. 137.
2Forty-third Annual Report, o2. cit., p. 168.
3Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1886,
4Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1898, p. 58.
5Thirty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1893, pp. 112-16.
6lbid., pp. 104-11.
7Forty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1899, p. 171.
the work was officially adopted by boards of education.' When the
matter of enrichment of the upper grades of the grammar schools,
following the Report of the Committee of Ten arose, principals in
Boston were permitted to introduce enrichment in their own way and
at their own convenience. Excerpts from their reports concerning
experiments with algebra, geometry, French, and Latin in the upper
grades were included in the Superintendent's report, and the re-
sults of their procedures commended.3
Developments in general supervisory functions of the prin-
cipal from 1875 to 1900.- In addition to subject supervision,
certain new trends developed during the last quarter of the
Nineteenth Century in the general supervisory status of the prin-
cipal. The principal was already generally established as the key
to local supervision in the large cities, both through regulations
of school boards, and pronouncements of superintendents. His
place in the superintendent's supervisory organization was known
and respected by teachers, and special and general supervisors.
However, the principal's supervisory technic was still in a rudi-
mentary stage of development. One of his main supervisory duties
was to train new teachers, but his methods of training them were
Of the apprenticeship type. He trained them largely "to keep"
school, and to strive to attain approximately the same methods and
progress as the older teachers. A "uniformity of excellence"
throughout the school was a current standard for a principal to
attain. Normal schools to train teachers for city systems were
not yet making their influence felt, and professional literature
was still limited in variety and output. Rumblings against
mechanical procedure and lock-step progress were becoming audible,
but the principal's supervision was deemed very effective if he
kept his teachers uniformly covering the materials of the pre-
scribed course of study, maintaining a militaristic type of dis-
cipline, and working in reasonable uniformity on methods
disseminated from the central office.
Changing conditions, however, were destined to enlarge
the sphere of the principal's supervisory activities. Cities
continued to grow at a tremendous rate; compulsory attendance and
child labor laws were enforced more rigorously; manufacturers be-
came interested in trade courses in the upper grades of the ele-
mentary schools; and philanthropic citizens and welfare societies
1Forty-fourth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., p. 58.
2Annual Report of the School Committee of Boston, 1896,
3Ibid., 1895, p. 64.
became interested in special phases of child training. The intro-
duction of new activities into the schools caused new problems for
principals to study and solve. The work of Eliot and Harper
tended to break up the hard and fast gradation of schools and in-
troduce enrichment into the upper grades of the elementary school.
The ideas of James, Parker, and Dewey were beginning to influence
the methods of normal schools and to permeate the work in the
primary classrooms. Such social and educational movements could
not fail to influence superintendents -- conservative as most of
them were -- and through them, the supervisory functions of the
Classroom visitation.- Prior to 1875, classroom visita-
tion consisted primarily of checking on the teacher's activities.
"Inspection" was the watchword, and such procedures as making
daily rounds, and knowing what each class was doing at any hour,
were recommended for the guidance of principals. Subsequent im-
provement was in the direction of making visitation more concrete.
Philbrick pointed out in 1877 that
"Merely looking on and seeing teachers teach is not the
supervision of instruction which is to be expected of a prin-
The influence cast by the principal over the school in his visits
to classrooms and intercourse with pupils and teachers received
considerable stress. The principal was expected to make the
"influence of his personality" felt in "every corner of the
school,"2 and to be familiar with the personal influence of every
teacher.3 He was expected, in his round of brief daily visits to
each room, to participate, even if only by a few words, in the
work, thus showing his interest and "making his presence felt."4
Not only individual teachers, but whole schools, it was stated,
could be strengthened in purpose and performance "through the in-
fluence of a worthy, capable Principal."5 While the emphasis on
the principal's influence doubtless served to eliminate much
formality and uneasiness occasioned by his visits, it degenerated
into the emotional, ineffective conception of visitation later
Ibid., 1877, p. 201.
Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1898, pp. 82-84.
3Thirtieth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1884, pp. 57-58.
4Forty-fourth Annual Report, St. Louis, op. cit.,pp.82-84.
5Thirty-fourth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., p. 70.
known as "casting a genial influence over the room."1 Better in-
dications of improving visitation were a broad regulation requir-
ing the principal to keep notes on each visit to classrooms,2 and
the advice of a superintendent to principals to follow each room
visit with a conference with the teacher.3
Conferences with teachers.- New activities added to meet-
ings and conferences with teachers consisted of individual con-
ferences following visits to classrooms (1892), the systematic
study of pedagogic works by school staffs (1892), discussions by
grade and departmental groups of instructional problems (1895),
harmonizing and unifying the work of the school (1898), and demon-
strations of teaching for the teachers of various grades (1900).
Such procedures marked a great advance in broadening the purposes
and increasing the usefulness of staff conferences and meetings.
Improving methods of instruction.- The principal gained
greater freedom in determining the methods to be used in his
school, and was intrusted with correspondingly greater responsi-
bilities for results. He was considered the most important factor
in the training of his teachers,4 and it was frequently pointed
out that if young teachers failed to make good, the responsibility
should be charged to him.5 The courses of study were followed
rigidly with respect to content, but the principal was permitted
a greater variety of methods in administering them.6 Where manuals
of teaching methods were utilized, principals were sometimes in-
structed to consider the provisions of the manuals advisory,
rather than mandatory.7 The policy of basing methods on correct
educational principles was advocated frequently by the principal's
general supervisors,8 and while there is little evidence that
1L. D. Coffman, "The Control of Educational Progress
Through School Supervision," Proceedings National Education Asso-
ciation, LV, 187. Washington, D.C.: National Education Associa-
2Fifty-fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1895, pp. 124-26.
3Fifty-first Annual Report, New York, op. cit., p. 123.
4Thirty-fourth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., p. 66.
6Thirty-eighth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1892, p. 34.
7Forty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
the City of New York, 1882, p. 10.
8Thirty-eighth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., p. 34;
Forty-fourth Annual Report, St. Louis, op. cit., p. 84.
principals were either able, or disposed, to put it into practice,
it at least marked the beginnings of a scientific attitude toward
the principal's work. In 1895 school board regulations, under the
caption "Supervisory Duties of Principals," designated the prin-
cipals as responsible "pedagogic" heads of their schools.1 Prin-
cipals were generally expected to supervise the practice teaching
of normal school students, aid their teachers to become skillful
questioners, and "vitalize" instruction throughout their schools.
Tests and pupil adjustment.- The greatest advance made in
testing during the period was the recognition that examinations
were effective instruments for "shaping" instruction.2 Special
emphasis was placed on the principal's knowledge of individual
pupils. He was expected to make contacts with them in the class-
room, to be familiar with their characteristics and qualifications,3
and to utilize such knowledge in classifying and promoting them.
While it is difficult to understand how principals could meet this
expectation in view of the size of the schools at the time, the
utilization of factors other than examinations in classification4
marked an early stage in attention to individual needs of pupils.
This trend was further illustrated by the introduction of state-
ments, in place of the traditional numerical marks, in the ratings
of pupils and reports of progress to parents. It is illustrated
by the following excerpt from the report of Superintendent Howland
"I have requested the Principals to have the marking cards
largely laid aside, and in their monthly reports to parents,
to state in a few simple words, the character and standing
of the pupil, giving no percentages, and permitting no pupil
to know his percentage or rank in the class. Most of the
Principals express themselves as in thorough accord with the
Rating of teachers.- Reports on the efficiency of substi-
tute teachers was one of the earliest requirements made of prin-
cipals in the matter of teacher rating. This activity which was
prevalent as early as 1880,6 originated as a phase of the pro-
cedure for selecting new teachers. Principals were authorized to
1Fifty-fourth Annual Report, New York, op. cit.,pp.124-26.
2Forty-fourth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., pp. 117-19.
3Forty-fourth Annual Report, St. Louis, op.cit., pp. 82-84.
4Thirty-eighth Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., pp. 47-48.
5Thirty-second Annual Report, op. cit., pp. 47-48.
6Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1880, p. 69.
dismiss a substitute teacher in their schools whose work they
judged inefficient,1 and they were required to evaluate the effi-
ciency of substitutes who were candidates for vacancies in their
own schools.2 In 1894, principals in St. Louis were required to
make quarterly reports on the general efficiency of each teacher,
and in 1898, to rate the efficiency of apprentice teachers as-
signed to their schools from the Normal School. Inspection and
oral and written examinations were still the most common methods
recommended to principals for determining the efficiency of
Special aspects of supervision by principals.- The super-
visory load of the principal underwent important changes in cer-
tain cities during closing decades of the century. In Boston,
the grammar school principals, to whom the supervision of primary
schools had been delegated in 1866, were relieved .of the respon-
sibility in 1879, and the primary schools were placed under the
direction of supervisors. This change was due largely to dis-
satisfaction with the extra burden of supervising the work of the
primary teachers. However, when the policy was reversed three
years later, it was primarily to meet the urgent wishes of these
same grammar principals. In 1888, the supervision of supervising
principals in St. Louis was limited to their own schools. Maxwell
stated in 1900 that New York had an excessive number of assistants-
to-the-principal who did not teach, and estimated that each prin-
cipal should be able to supervise the work of at least twenty
teachers.4 Principals were usually permitted to delegate super-
visory duties to free assistants. Pronouncements by superintend-
ents of large cities left little doubt of the principal's
strategical position in supervision. The following excerpt is
one of the rare examples in which statements were purported to be
based on factual data:
"One point brought out quite clearly by the examinations
made by this department is the intimate connection between
the Principals' work and the condition of the newer subjects
in the several classes. In the schools in which the Prin-
cipals spend a goodly portion of the time in class-rooms
exemplifying their precepts by practical lessons in teaching,
1Forty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1896, p. 31.
3Forty-fourth Annual Report, op. cit., p. xviii (Appendix).
4Second Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1900, p. 31.
the subjects in general have been found to be in a very good
condition; but the best results have been found in those
schools in which the work of the Principals in the classrooms
was supplemented by regular conferences with their teachers."1
Growth of Supervisory Functions of Principals
from 1900 to 1918
The first years of the period between the opening of the
present century and the end of the second decade were marked by
the extension of certain supervisory activities already practiced
by principals, rather than by the addition of new ones. This was
especially true of training young teachers, teachers' conferences,
and the rating of the efficiency of teachers. Visitation and
testing, on the other hand, received scant attention. Adjustment
of materials for pupils was confined largely to departmentaliza-
tion in the upper grades. Beginning about 1908, however, and
continuing through 1913, the official literature contains an ap-
preciable number of references to adapting materials and instruc-
tion to backward groups. Principals experimented considerably
with such devices as double-track plans, special rooms for over-
age pupils, and organization of whole schools to facilitate
individualization of the pupils' work. \Creative supervisory
projects were the outstanding feature of the second decade of the
pewAod, and toward the close of the period evidences of the in-
fluence of standardized tests appeared.
One of the first new devices in methodology to be men-
tioned 4in this period was the plan-book. In 1902, principals in
St. Louis were required to evaluate the lesson plans of apprentice
teachers, and in 1903, the Board of Superintendents in New York
felt constrained to characterize the time and energy spent by
teachers in "writing out elaborate plan and progress books" as an
unnecessary burden on teachers and a detriment to their work.
They suggested instead that the principal should co-operate with
teachers in making a monthly or term plan, subject to modifica-
tion.2 Principals were expected to make out programs for
apprentice teachers at the beginning of the year. Principals in
Chicago, in 1904, were asked for specific reports on handwriting
and were required to fill out a questionnaire on their preferences
for vertical or slant writing. Young principals in New York were
commended, in 1905, for a "growing individuality" in their work
IFifty-first Annual Report, New York, op. cit., p. 123.
2Fifth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of Schools
of the City of New York, 1903, p. 109.
in various subjects, and all principals were encouraged to make
their schools eminent in "some one thing," such as language,
mathematics, on the supposition that, with this accomplished,
they would not rest until their schools excelled in all things.1
In 1905, a committee of Chicago principals prepared a report for
the Superintendent on the appropriate uses of seat work in the
primary grades, and made an outline of seat work suitable for the
first three grades.2 A similar committee the same year devised a
test in English which was given in all seventh grades in the city.
The results of the tests were discussed in a meeting of the prin-
cipals and their seventh-grade teachers with the Superintendent.3
A New York principal and two of his teachers in 1908 constructed
their own reading materials for the first grade, and had the
materials mimeographed and illustrated.
Fear that principals were overdoing the introduction of
new methods led an associate superintendent in the New York
schools in 1909 to sound a word of warning:
"The principals and their assistants continue to show
commendable zeal in their endeavors to improve the work in
their schools; at times, however, a hint of warning is neces-
sary to prevent the overzealous from assuming that everything
new is necessarily an improvement. Wishing to be considered
progressive, a principal is occasionally led not only to
adopt every device that he thinks finds favor at headquarters,
but also to give extravagant praise to his success, even when
the change may have been disadvantageous. In penmanship, for 4
instance, a principal converted to a belief in a new method
will require the use of the latter by pupils of the upper
grades whose style is already formed, with the result that
the previous good writing of a class is changed in a few
weeks to something quite the reverse."4
New methods and innovations in materials and subject matter,
nevertheless, continued to be initiated by principals from time
to time. Garden lessons, special materials for teaching oral
English, classes in nature study, developing drill materials in
arithmetic, improved standards for rating and reporting pupils'
work, experiments in unifying kindergarten and first grade work,
1Seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1905, pp. 168-71.
2Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1905, p. 219.
3 Ibid., p. 233.
4Eleventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1909, p. 251.
provisions for concrete civic training, listing errors in pupils'
speech, securing co-operation of parents in the improvement of
oral English, and grouping of pupils within classes for the im-
provement of instruction were representative of the creative
supervisory projects of principals from 1910 to 1916. Associate
Superintendent Knox of St. Louis, in reporting on an experiment
at the Laclede School in a new approach and treatment in the study
of the United States constitution, highly commended the initiative
of the principal. He stated that the beneficial results were not
confined to the pupils alone, but also influenced favorably the
interest and attitude of parents toward the work of the school.
He quoted the following summary of Principal Reavis on the results
of the procedure:
"This plan of teaching the United States constitution has
many advantages over the memorit6r method that quite generally
prevails, (1) It requires no more time. (2) It renders inter-
esting and full of purpose work that is ordinarily very diffi-
cult and uninteresting to children. (3) It gives the pupils
a much more comprehensive and concrete knowledge of a topic
in history which as it is often taught, is so abstract and
foreign to the interests of children that the results are mere
verbiage. (4) It gives the child a proper attitude toward
the constitution as a document of judicious compromise by
helping him realize the great difficulty of its making.
(5) The dramatic treatment renders alive for children pages
in our history that must meet responses in their lives, or
else our effort in teaching history is wasted and the results
fail in their purpose."I
The conventional meetings with school or grade groups of
teachers, held at weekly or monthly intervals, were utilized by
the principal during this period, but there was also a trend
toward making meetings more democratic; that is, by using them as
agencies for securing more teacher participation in school poli-
cies. In 1903, Superintendent Cooley of Chicago initiated a plan
whereby twelve key members of the Principals' Association were
made heads of committees. Every principal in the city belonged
to one of the central committees and all met with the superintend-
ent at regular monthly meetings. Policies and procedures advanced
by this organization were usually made the subject of staff meet-
ings in local schools, so that teacher opinion and co-operation
might be secured.2 Several years later, Superintendent Young of
ISixty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1915, pp. 71-72.
2Chicago Board of Education Bulletin, 1903, p. 12.
the same city pointed out that the principal's position was
"administrative, executive, and instructional," and the teacher's,
executive, instructional, and social." Dr. Young's democratic
policy eventuated into a series of councils whereby the teachers'
ideas on instruction and other matters were given voice. However,
her plan contained one unique feature, namely, that the teachers'
opinion were conveyed direct to the superintendent, the principal
not being permitted to attend the meetings of his staff. At
times principals in other cities2 organized local councils to give
the teachers a voice in school policies. The description of an
organization designed especially to improve instruction is con-
tained in the report of District Superintendant Lee of New York,
"In Public School 10, Mr. Newman, Principal, the teaching
corps has been organized into committees on English, Mathe-
matics, History, Geography, Nature Study and Manual Training.
Each committee is in charge of a chairman, who teaches the
respective subject in the departmental classes. Every grade
has a representative on each of these committees. Departmental
meetings are held every month, and these are followed by grade
meetings, in which the delegates present the topics of de-
partmental discussion to their colleagues. In this way the
work of the entire school is unified and correlated and co-
operation from every teacher of the corps is obtained."3
While the evidence of new types of tests used by principals
during this period is meager, a trend toward more scientific uses
of tests is indicated. No record was found of the use of stand-
( ardized achievement tests, but a principal was cited in 1913 as
using Binet Tests.4 Principals also devised special tests in
arithmetic,5 constructed tests to cover essential points in courses
of study,6 and secured the co-operation of newspapers in testing
the use of rules of grammar in writing paragraphs.7
1Fifty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1913, p. 25.
2Sixteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1914, p. 487.
4Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1913, p. 397.
5Ibid., p. 409.
6Sixteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., pp. 497-98.
7 Ibid., p. 495.
Departmentalization was employed in 132 schools in New
York City in 1903, and principals were requested to inform the
Superintendent how it affected the interest, conduct, and scholar-
ship of the pupils.1 In 1905, principals expressed themselves as
being opposed to having departmental work made obligatory. At
that time, 146 had departmental organization in their schools, and
92 did not have it.2 Principals in New York were devoting con-
siderable attention to providing special classes for, and adapting
materials and instruction to, over-age and mentally defective
children during the years 1908-1914. Double-time plans, and
parallel courses were among the devices utilized for this purpose.
St. Louis principals were cited in 1907 as studying the charac-
teristics of mentally defective children, and a Chicago principal
in 1910 reported on a plan to meet the needs of undernourished
Discovery of equable standards for teacher rating proved
to be a problem during the early years of the period under dis-
cussion. Where district superintendents as well as principals
rated teachers, there was frequently a great difference in the
ratings of the two officials.4 The fact that promotions and
appointments were often based on the marks caused criticism of
the principal's ratings. In some instances, the board of superin-
tendents attempted to equalize ratings given by principals by com-
paring the work of the various schools.5 In 1913, a suitable
basis for rating was still a problem, principals being criticized
for inspecting the work of young teachers, pencil and notebook
visible, before giving them supervisory assistance.6 Skill in
teaching, discipline, and co-operation in the work of the school
were the chief criteria for ratings by principals.7
iFifth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op. cit.,
2Seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent, op.cit.,
3Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1910, pp. 115-16.
4Seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent, New
York, op. cit., pp. 157-58.
5Fifty-first Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1905, p. 146.
Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., pp. 249-50.
7Fifty-first Annual Report, Chicago, op. cit., pp. 147-48.
General aspects of the principal's supervision during the
period are deserving of attention. Principals in large cities
were well established as the chief supervisory heads of their
schools. Assistant superintendents, as a rule, made recommenda-
tions regarding classwork in a school only after conferring with
the principal.1 The principal was usually supplied with clerical
and administrative assistance sufficient to relieve him of clerical
and petty routine, and at times, of a portion of his supervisory
load.2 He was allowed considerable latitude in carrying out the
provisions of courses of study, and in adapting instruction to
community needs.3 And yet a limitation of the evidence of reports
of superintendents and school boards must here be considered,
namely, that the records often do not show how widespread the
supervisory activities were among the principals of a city school
system. Superintendents are prone to dwell upon positive achieve-
ments in their reports. Nevertheless, criticisms of the attitude
and accomplishments of principals are found which indicate that
in many instances they were not, as a group, living up to their
opportunities. In New York, for example, principals were criti-
cized for not taking advantage of freedom to adopt the course of
study to groups of varying ability,4 and for failure to give
demonstration lessons and other assistance to young teachers.
In Chicago Superintendent Young wrote as follows in 1912:
"As is always the case in a city in which the district
superintendents and principals are not subject to 'thou shalt',
there are districts and schools that have not yet heard of
the effort to improve penmanship."6
New York principals in 1913 were not able wholly to refute McMurry's
statement made in connection with the New York Survey, namely, that
"the great mass of principals are not students of instruction."7
1Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1903, pp. 235-36.
2Thirteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1911, pp. 243-46.
3PFourteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1912, pp. 130-31.
5Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., p. 106.
6Fifty-eighth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
Chicago, 1912, p. 103.
7Fifteenth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., pp. 495-505.
An assistant superintendent in St. Louis, in his report
of 1916, formulated nine questions which might be regarded as
standards for an efficient school at that time. The points in-
cluded were (1) physical and social conditions, (2) social en-
vironment of pupils, (3) supervision based on pedagogic principles,
(4) effective execution of functions of the principal, (5) general
and specific aims of the course of study realized, (6) liberal
interpretation of functions by principal and teachers, (7) ade-
quacy of supplementary services, (8) spirit of school as shown by
interrelationships of principal, teachers, pupils and parents,
and (9) influence of school on lives of both children and adults
of the community. He found that the work of almost all of the
schools of his district depended on a predominantly progressive
or conservative point of view of the principal, and that syste-
matic exercise of the principal's functions were very generally
in evidence. An excerpt from his report states that
"The progressive schools, best typified by the .,
and . . schools, are seeking by a shift in the centers of
interest and in modes of procedure to more specifically adapt
their work to local conditions, or to changing conceptions of
educational methods and values. The conservative schools,
best typified by the .. .., . ., and . ., are seek-
ing by refinement of method and systematic coordination to
make more effective tried and accepted educational practices.
Both are rendering valuable services in contributing or im-
proving the elements which in their combination ultimately
constitute the strength of the schools."l
Supervisory Activities of Principals
Established since 1920
Two factors which greatly influenced supervision by the
principal in the years around 1920 were the prestige given to in-
tolligence tests and achievement tests in the World War, and the
formation, previously mentioned, of the Department of Elementary
School Principals. The former resulted in putting into the prin-
cipals' hands tools for making scientific studies of his super-
visory problems; the latter provided a stimulus for making the
studies and a medium for publishing results. Principals, as a
consequence, were able to base procedures on factual data to an
extent not previously possible, and their supervision for the
first time assumed the characteristics of a science.
iSixty-second Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1916, pp. 272-73.
Classroom visitation.- Considerable attention was given
in the early years immediately following 1920 to the necessity of
the principal's spending a large share of his time in the class-
rooms. McAndrew in 1924 stated the problem as follows:
"The attempt of other school systems to get their princi-
pals out of the office chairs and into the work area indicates
a general educational trend. Those of our principals and
supervisors who have been most in their classrooms, not away
on committee meetings or looking for new teachers, have been
commended during the year. Supervision is a steady require-
In many school systems the practice was followed of having the
principals make a record of the results of each visit to a class-
room, furnishing a copy of the record to the teacher, and filing
a second copy in the administrative office. Some of the advan-
tages claimed for the plan were that it insured frequent visita-
tion of classes, stimulated higher efforts on the part of teachers,
and enabled district superintendents to tell from inspection of
the records where attention was most needed. Principals were
encouraged to study personally during such visits the work of
pupils in special, as well as general, subjects.3 Many maintained
scheduled hours for visits of other principals and teachers to
their schools, and records of such visits were kept in the prin-
cipal's office.4 Visits by groups of principals to demonstrations
of teaching arranged by home principals were common.5
Teachers' meetings and conferences.- Staff meetings in
Chicago, according to a sampling from ten representative schools,
were held by principals on an average of twelve times during the
school year ending in June, 1925. They were "planned intelli-
gently, minutes kept and teaching benefitted." Previous to this
time principals had held meetings at irregular intervals, often
hastily arranged, and with an "apologetic" attitude.6 In response
1Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools of Chicago,
1924, p. 18.
2Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent
of Schools of the City of New York, 1925, p. 250.
3Ibid., p. 71.
4Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1927, p. 378.
5Thirtieth Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1928, p. 382.
6Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools of Chicago,
1925, p. 40.
to a request from principals for suggestions in planning effective
conferences, Superintendent McAndrew submitted a number of hints
gleaned from business manuals covering staff conferences:
(1) listing needs, (2) classifying needs and making a program,
(3) scheduling times of meetings, (4) putting schedule in form of
bulletin to teachers, (5) starting meeting promptly and closing
on time, (6) covering points concisely and recapitulating at the
end, and (7) not permitting a few to monopolize discussion. He
recommended as helpful in staff meetings a list of books compiled
by superintendents, professors of education, librarians, and re-
search workers, and published for use of principals.1 Principals'
conferences with teachers in New York in 1930 centered about such
topics as new courses of study, composition and letter writing,
drill, problems of beginning teachers, professional courses for
teachers, and visits to other schools. Methods of conducting
conferences varied from an expository lecture to an open forum
discussion. Freedom of teachers to present points of view and
individual problems was especially emphasized. Principals,
assistant-principals, and grade leaders presided.2 It is worthy
of note that the New York procedure appears more in keeping with
modern democratic practices than that of Chicago.
Tests and measurements.- Experimental use of intelligence
and achievement tests by principals in 1921 was sporadic, due to
the fact that they were often obliged, in the absence of a special
fund, to furnish them at their own expense.3 Even at that date,
however, principals had reached two conclusions, (1) that pupils'
scores in silent reading were frequently found to be above the
grade standards of the tests, and (2) that teachers derived con-
siderable professional training from administering and scoring
the tests.4 Two years later the principal's responsibilities,
with respect to field tests administered through a division of
tests and measurements, were defined as criticizing the plan of
testing before it was put into operation in his school, and
selecting the time for giving the tests, except in the case of
survey tests required by the superintendent. The services which
the principal might derive from the testing division were enumer-
ated as (1) utilizing the testing service for checking his
lIbid., pp. 40-41.
2Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., p. 366.
Sixty-seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1921, pp. 74-75.
administrative or supervisory policies, or for comparing results
secured in his school with those of other schools.1
Tests were used by principals for self-surveys of their
schools in such subjects as handwriting, spelling, reading, and
problem analysis. The results were interpreted, and suggestions
for improvement discussed at staff meetings.2
Other uses of standard achievement tests by principals
were to supplement results obtained from informal tests, and in
conjunction with intelligence, to discover whether pupils were
achieving results comparable with their general abilities.
Standardized tests finding particular favor with principals for
these purposes were Otis Reasoning Test, Monroe Diagnostic Test,
Thorndike McCall Reading Test, New York Standard Geography Test,
and Woody-McCall Test in the fundamentals of Arithmetic.3 Com-
mittees of principals constructed series of informal tests for
subjects in all grades.4 Tests were used to discover weaknesses
of seventh grade pupils in arithmetic and English; the personnel
tests of a life insurance company were given to upper grade pupils
to answer criticism on the abilities of pupils in arithmetic
fundamentals; and tests in science were given to evaluate teach-
ing procedures in that subject.5 Batteries of reading tests were
used to measure the individual progress of pupils from month to
month;6 tests were given to determine the value of remedial work;7
and additional knowledge of the special subjects was sought by
principals through the medium of special tests.8
Principals in St. Louis requisitioned 295,000 copies of
test forms for use in 1930, an average of three tests for each
pupil enrolled. Principals in that city were cited as being the
Sixty-ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1923, pp. 3-15.
2Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent
of Schools of the City of New York, 1926, p. 225.
3Ibid., pp. 245-46.
4Thirtieth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, New
York, op. cit., p. 413.
5Thirty-first Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1929, p. 331.
6Seventy-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1929, p. 44.
7Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 397.
best qualified persons in the system for interpreting test re-
sults, owing to their knowledge of the pupils' abilities and
social conditions prevalent in the communityy1 and they were ex-
pected to assist the teacher in the proper interpretation and
application of test results.2 Principals in two supervisory
districts in New York were reported as having secured the intel-
ligence quotients of all first grade pupils by means of individual
tests, and of all pupils above the first grade, by means of group
intelligence tests. The results were utilized in grouping pupils
within grades and within classes, in order better to adapt instruc-
tion to individual needs.3 Principals co-operated with district
superintendents in utilizing intelligence tests and standardized
tests as aids in rating the efficiency of schools.4
Improvement of methods.- The supervision of the principal,
in 1925, was expected to be scientific. He was expected to know
the conditions of his school in a specific sense -- what methods
were to be employed, according to scientific principles in the
various grades in each subject.5 Principals utilized scientific
studies to discover in what grades oral reading was most effec-
tive6 and the lists of Horn, Ashbaugh and others were their guides
in the supervision of spelling.7 Graphs and other statistical
devices were employed in illustrating pupil progress in arithmetic
In St. Louis, principals, as the chief supervisors of
their schools, were expected to call on the supervisors for expert
help to teachers having difficulties in getting good results in
the various subjects.9 Principals in New York conducted experi-
ments in methods in conjunction with staff members of professional
iSeventy-fifth Annual Report, op. cit., p. 46.
2Seventy-sixth Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1930, p. 30.
3Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
op. cit., p. 341.
41bid., pp. 388-89.
5Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 70.
6Ibid., pp. 30-31.
7Annual Report of the Superintendent, Chicago, 1925,
op. cit., pp. 24-25.
8Ibid., pp. 30-31.
9Seventy-second Annual Report of the Board of Education
of St. Louis, 1926, pp. 15-16.
schools,1 and principals were reported as gaining such an intel-
ligent grasp of the theory of kindergarten work that additional
supervisors for that department ceased to be employed.2 Con-
trolled experiments were conducted in testing remedial procedures
in arithmetic, in determining the relative values of Austrian and
other methods of subtraction, and in evaluating the effectiveness
of flash cards for developing speed and comprehension in primary
reading.3 Projects of an experimental nature were the teaching
of multiplication without memorizing tables,4 the use of study
periods,5 teaching of reading through picture study,6 teaching
geography through study of local conditions,7 classes of pupils
with I.Q.'s below 50, the lower limit for subnormal divisions,8
and group-study technic for pupils of the upper grades.9 Among
the special aids for new teachers devised by principals were plans
for organization and unification of classroom routine,10 and
printed lesson plans for study periods.11
Pupil adjustment.- Principals exercised the authority to
select pupils to be examined for special rooms and special schools.
In addition, they were permitted general powers, such as grouping
pupils and adapting courses of study to fit the groups, and to
adjust the size of bright and slow classes.13 However, the
ITwenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 216.
2Ibid., p. 266.
3Ibid., pp. 22-23.
4Thirty-first Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 361.
5Thirtieth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 412.
6Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 344.
71bid., p. 358.
8Ibid., pp. 350-51.
9Ibid., p. 349.
10Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 30.
11Thirty-first Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 360.
12Sixty-eighth Annual Report of the School Board of
St. Louis, 1922, p. 42.
Thirtieth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 34.
placing of children in special classes was ignored according to
one superintendent, owing to delays in visits of the examiners of
the child-study division.1 Principals also utilized the services
of visiting teachers as a supervisory aid in adjusting the work
of problem pupils.2 Superintendents urged more scientific stand-
ards for the promotion of pupils, with the view of eliminating
excessive retardation.3 Principals conducted studies of the rela-
tion of health to other capacities, such as mental ability and
special aptitudes,4 and devised special curriculum units in health.5
Teacher rating.- Most large school systems were still ex-
perimenting with marking systems for teachers during the early
years of the period. The main problems were the bases for the
ratings, and the words or symbols by which these should be ex-
pressed.6 Ratings given by principals were reported as not cor-
relating highly with the work of their schools viewed as a whole.7
In response to inquiries of superintendents, principals expressed
the opinion that not more than twenty-five per cent of a given
corps should receive the highest mark for any one item on the
General aspects.- An outstanding development since 1918
has been the emphasis placed upon the principal's ability to
stimulate the professional growth of members of his staff.9 Prior
to this period emphasis had been placed upon teacher training;
the modern point of view is that the best method of training a
teacher is to stimulate in her an attitude of self-improvement.
Among the means cited for promoting professional improvement of
teachers have been compilation of individual records of each
IThirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 45.
3Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., pp. 71-72.
4Thirty-third Annual Report of the City Superintendent of
Schools of the City of New York, 1931, p. 85.
5Ibid., p. 395.
6Annual Report of the Superintendent, Chicago, 1925,
on. cit., pp. 78-81.
7Thirtieth Annual Report of the City Superintendent, New
York, op. cit., pp. 402-03.
9Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 49.
teacher as a basis for future professional endeavor,1 provision
for using professional literature,2 conducting of professional
study classes by principals in connection with local educational
institutions,3 encouraging membership in teachers professional
organizations,4 and discussion of professional problems in con-
ferences.5 Such activities are an outgrowth of the principal's
own professional growth. He has tended to attain the status of a
professional leader, keeping foremost the policy effectively
enunciated by the superintendent of a large city school system,
namely, that every response to a supervisory problem "should be
determined scientifically by a study of all pertinent facts."6
Thirtieth Annual Report of
York, op. cit., p. 382.
the City Superintendent. New
Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 397.
3Thirty-second Annual Report of the City Superintendent,
New York, op. cit., p. 349.
6Seventy-third Annual Report of the Board of Education of
St. Louis, 1927, p. 14.