If Kansas’ K-12 education could be divided along one metric it would be rural versus urban.
The state’s five most populous counties account for over half of its entire student population.
The median district size in Kansas is 550 students. Now consider that the largest district in the state, Wichita Public Schools, is responsible for over 11% of all Kansas students; a student body that is 47,517 learners strong.
The second-largest district in the state, Olathe Public Schools, is home to a student body of more than 29,000.
And while the contrast between rural and urban is extreme in Kansas, it’s far from the Sunflower State’s only challenge.
Although Kansas beats neighboring states Colorado and Oklahoma for having a higher high school graduation rate at 91%, Kansas is still bested by higher graduation rates in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.
The Kansas high school graduates who took the ACT last year had an average composite score of 19.9, compared with a score of 23.2 from Coloradans and 20.2 from Missourians.
Though the latest education budget passed for FY 2023 includes $6.4 billion for K-12 public education, critics are quick to point out how this funding doesn’t go far enough.
As an experienced teacher in the Kansas K-12 educational system you know that being a leader isn’t easy. It’s impossible to please everyone, and there are many competing stakeholders who all claim they want what’s best for the students.
This is where your experience and insight come into play. You have your own ideas about what’s best for the general state of education in Kansas, and you’re not intimidated or afraid to put your own proposals on the table. Improvement can start at the school-level as a principal, and it can extend as far as your district or even throughout the state.
Once you’re ready to follow through and pursue your calling as a mover and shaker in school administration, it’s time to start thinking about a graduate degree in educational leadership.
How to Become a Principal in Kansas – School-level Educational Leadership
You’ve already completed a teacher mentoring program and upgraded your two-year Initial Teaching License to a five-year Professional License. You also have at least three years of experience on your Professional License.
At this point you have the experience it takes to add a Building Leadership endorsement to your Professional License. Now you just need to complete the education and examination requirements.
Throughout this process you’ll be working with the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
Step 1. Complete an Approved Preparation Program (APP) in Building Leadership
To be eligible to add a Building Leadership endorsement to your Professional License, you need to complete an approved preparation program (APP) in Building Leadership. There are currently 13 schools offering KSDE-approved APPs in Building Leadership.
The Building Leadership APP itself is only a few courses that can total around 16 semester credits. Schools offer this as a stand-alone academic certificate program, in addition to offering it as part of an advanced graduate degree.
If you combine the required Building Leadership APP with a graduate degree, it can result in a credential like:
Your Building Leadership APP covers topics like:
APPs will also often include a principal practicum where you can gain valuable hands-on experience in the field, however this is not a requirement for qualifying APPs in Kansas.
Step 2. Pass the ETS School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) Exam
The KSDE requires you to pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) (Test Code 6990) exam to qualify for the Building Leadership endorsement.
Sponsored by the company ETS, the SLLA is a computer-based exam that’s divided into two sections.
You have 165 minutes to complete the first section, which is comprised of 120 selected-response questions. The second section is made up of four constructed response questions for which you’re allocated 75 minutes to complete.
The SLLA exam evaluates your knowledge of these seven topic areas as they relate to leadership:
You can schedule your SLLA exam online with ETS.
Step 3. Apply to Add a Building Leadership Endorsement on Your Professional License
Once you’ve completed the requirements up to this point you can apply to add the Building Leadership endorsement onto your Professional License. You can do this through your existing account with the KSDE’s Kansas Licensure Application System (KLAS).
And now you can hit the ground running! Once you’ve successfully added this endorsement you can start applying for principal positions across the state.
School Principal Salary and Jobs in Kansas
The KSDE reports that principal salaries have increased every year over the past decade. It’s statistics for the 2022-2023 school year show that on average principals in Kansas earned $105,340.
The top-five districts for paying out the highest principal salaries over this period are:
The five districts with the highest growth rates for principal salaries between 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 are:
The districts with the largest number of principals are:
Altogether there are 1,239 principals in Kansas according to the latest data from the KSDE. Over 20% of them are already spoken for in just those five districts above, out of a total of 286 districts.
How to Become a Superintendent in Kansas – District-Level Educational Leadership
Thinking about district-level leadership is natural for any teacher who’s invested in their students. If you have at least three years of K-12 teaching experience on a Professional License then you’re well poised to turn this idea into a reality, starting with completing the education requirement.
Step 1. Complete an Approved Preparation Program (APP) in District Leadership
To be eligible to add a District Leadership endorsement onto your Professional License you must complete an approved preparation program (APP) in District Leadership. There are currently six schools offering KSDE-approved APPs in District Leadership.
While a qualifying academic program can be just a few courses or around 16 graduate semester credits, schools will often combine these with a graduate degree that results in a competitive credential like:
Courses covered in a District Leadership APP focus on topics like:
Step 2. Pass the ETS School Superintendent Assessment (SSA) Exam
You must pass the School Superintendent Assessment (SSA) (Test Code 6991) exam to qualify for the District Leadership endorsement.
Sponsored by the company ETS, the SSA is a computer-based exam that you’ll have three hours to complete. It’s comprised of 120 selected-response questions and three constructed-response questions. Content covers these leadership topics as they relate to:
You can schedule your SSA exam online with ETS.
Step 3. Apply to Add a District Leadership Endorsement on Your Professional License
At this point you can apply to add the District Leadership endorsement onto your Professional License through your existing account with the KSDE’s Kansas Licensure Application System (KLAS).
Once you’ve added this endorsement to your license you can start applying for superintendent positions throughout the Kansas.
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in Kansas
According to the KSDE, the average superintendent salary in Kansas for the 2022-2023 school year is $134,962.
The districts with the highest superintendent salaries are:
A high superintendent salary correlates with districts in large population areas.
The districts with the highest increase in superintendent salaries compared with the previous school year are:
One superintendent for every school district in Kansas means there are 286 superintendents working to improve the quality of education for K-12 students across the state!
Educational Leadership Degree Options in Kansas: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership
Kansas offers some of the Midwest’s most competitive graduate programs in educational leadership. Designed for the working professional teacher, it’s common to find schools offering courses online, in the evenings, on weekends, and in a hybrid format, in addition to a traditional classroom setting.
We’ve taken the work out of homework and analyzed all the private non-profit schools in the state that offer graduate degrees in education leadership. Now it’s up to you to find the program that best fits your own individual needs.
School of Education
Ed.D in Leadership in Higher Education
Ed.D in Educational Leadership PK-12
MA in School Leadership
School of Education and Social Work
MS.Ed in Building Leadership
MA.Ed in Educational Leadership
M.Ed. in School Leadership
Ed.D in Educational Leadership
M.Ed in School Leadership-Teacher Leadership
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2023.