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October 1, 1998
Vol. 56
No. 2

Whose Magazine? A Report on a Readership Survey for Educational Leadership

Every month, readers spend, on average, 51.20 minutes reading their latest issue of Educational Leadership. That is one of the facts that came to light from our recent readership survey. In an effort to find out more about our readers' professional habits and interests as well as what they most like about and want from their magazine, ASCD commissioned Association Publishers, Inc., to conduct an independent random survey of 2,000 readers of Educational Leadership. We received a gratifying 36 percent response. Here are some of the findings.

Your Profile

Slightly more than two-thirds of readers are female; slightly less than one-third are male. Thirty-five percent are principals or assistant principals. Another 30 percent are administrators—from superintendent to curriculum specialist, central office administrator to building level specialist. Nearly one-quarter are teachers (preschool through grade 12). About 7 percent are professors. The other groups represented include counselors, parents, consultants, and school board members, with some readers playing multiple roles in schools.
The mean number of years in the education profession is 21. Almost 92 percent of respondents have a master's degree, with more than 20 percent holding a doctorate. As for curriculum area, 42 percent report their primary subject to be cross-curricular education. Almost every other discipline is represented, too, from language arts (22 percent) to library science (1 percent).
Readers span all grade levels, with 56 percent currently working in elementary schools, 42 percent in middle schools, 40 percent in secondary schools, 26 percent in preschools, and 16 percent at the college level. (Some readers work at several levels.)

Your Reading Habits

Eighty-two percent of respondents are regular readers, having read at least three of the last four issues. Readers also share their copies of the magazine with colleagues. The pass-along rate is 1.48 readers a copy, excluding the recipient. About 96 percent do not discard their copy after reading it, with 79 percent saving it for reference purposes.
Many other magazines are on our respondents' reading list. More than 50 percent read the Kappan. About a third read Education Week; 30 percent read NEA Today. The list of journals read is long, with dozens of publications mentioned at least once.

What You Like About EL

More than 92 percent of respondents rate Educational Leadership as the best publication, or one of the top three, in education. EL received highest ratings for general quality of articles (8.9 on a 10 point scale). Cover design received an 8.8 rating and theme issues, 8.72, with ads receiving the lowest rating at 7.36. Readers register the highest average level of agreement with the statements "It is a credible source of information" (9.13) and "It provides up-to-date information" (9.10), and the least agreement with "The art and design enhance its readability" (still a rather high grade with 8.45).
In verbatim responses on what they like most about EL, respondents frequently cite quality and credibility, readability, timeliness, thematic approaches to issues, and diversity of topics.

Needs Not Met

Verbatim comments about professional needs not currently being met are quite varied. Several respondents suggest that articles be of narrower focus and greater depth; several others suggest that EL address more "hot topics" and controversial perspectives. About one-third want more focus on students. Twenty-seven percent wish to see coverage devoted to parents, although 18 percent feel less coverage is needed. Individual readers mention subjects they would like more coverage on. On the long list with at least one mention are block scheduling, physical education, technology, leadership trends, and brain research.
Those who have not read at least three of the last four issues mention lack of time as the primary reason, with many noting they would catch up in the summer. "Although this section was for criticisms, more frequent than any one response on shortcomings were assertions of satisfactions with Educational Leadership," the report notes.

Open-Ended Question

Perhaps some of the most interesting information came from responses to a question asking readers whether they had ever implemented a strategy or program after reading an article in Educational Leadership. Pages of comments reveal that readers remember particular articles dating back even a dozen years. Some recall numerous authors by name, and some recall titles of articles. Many readers mention using articles in graduate schools or with graduate students. Others tell us they have used articles as the basis of implementing a school reform. Multiple intelligences, cooperative learning, conflict resolution, portfolio assessments, thinking skills, restructuring, and leadership techniques are all mentioned.

The Summary

Association Publishers, Inc., summarizes its findings this way: The readership of Educational Leadership is, on the whole, a highly educated group with careful reading habits, thoughtful informed opinions of the publication, and a high level of experience in the field of education. The respondents rated EL very highly. . . . It is apparent from ratings of both particular features and overall scores that Educational Leadership does well to meet its readership's needs, is respected as a valuable reference tool, and is both a source and a forum for new ideas in the education profession. . . . This study confirms Educational Leadership to be a leader in its field, to well serve its readership, and to be worthy of its critical acclaim.
Thanks, Readers. The EL staff is dedicated to keeping your high regard. We welcome feedback at any time from all readers—through letter, e-mail, or fax.
—Marge Scherer, el@ascd.org

Marge Scherer has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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