Acknowledged in: K-12 school leaders and school crisis: An exploration of principals’ school crisis competencies and preparedness

McCarty S. (2012). K-12 school leaders and school crisis: An exploration of principals’ school crisis competencies and preparedness. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved from

Abstract: On any given day, principals could find themselves faced with a situation that could define their roles as crisis leaders. This dissertation research offers an exploratory study in the field of crisis response and educational leadership. From experts in the field of crisis response, the author compiled a list of crisis management competencies specifically for school leaders and then assessed principals’ and assistant principals’ crisis leadership preparation and perceived familiarity with the competencies. Initially, the researcher contacted forty superintendents from The Western Pennsylvania Forum for School Superintendents and sixty-two superintendents from the Tri-State Area School Study Council to request permission to survey principals and assistant principals in their districts. One hundred ninety-two principals and assistant principals were identified and received email invitations requesting their participation in a brief survey. Of the 192 building administrators contacted, 82 responded to the survey. Two cases were excluded as incomplete, because the respondents completed fewer than half of the survey questions. Of the 80 included participants, 30 worked at the elementary school level, 18 at middle or junior high schools, and 28 at high schools (n = 76 reported). Sixty-three had completed a master’s degree and 12 had completed a doctoral degree (n = 75 reported). Respondents had worked as building level administrators for an average of 8.53 years. The overall results of this exploratory study indicated that building level administrators appear to have varying levels of familiarity with limited formal training in the area of crisis leadership. Further research utilizing the crisis competencies and survey measurement tool developed in this initial research study could provide valuable knowledge and support for the future professional preparation of educational leaders.

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