Date of Award

Fall 10-10-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Philip Pendley

Second Advisor

Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Marylou Wilson


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between grit and successful California superintendents. Grit is a topic in infancy, only being first introduced in 2007. While there has been much research on the superintendency, there has yet to be any research exploring grit and the superintendency. The population of this study consisted of California superintendents who met the following criteria: 1. California public school district superintendent, 2. located in California, 3. Have more than three consecutive years in their current position, 4. Superintendents must meet at least two of the following criteria: a) have membership in professional organizations, b) have presented on leadership at local or state conference c) have been recognized by professional organization or peers for their leadership. Subordinates must have been currently working for the superintendent and had worked for him or her for at least two years. In this mixed methods study, data was first collected electronically from superintendents using the Grit-S Survey. Subordinates of the superintendents who completed the Grit-S Survey were then asked to complete the same electronic survey, changing pronouns from “I” to “he/she” and using it to rate their superintendents’ level of grit. Interview questions further explored grit and how it contributes to the success of superintendents. Results of the study found that superintendents are very gritty and score high on each of the 8 attributes that measure grit. It was also found that subordinates rate their superintendents as gritty and rate them high on each of the 8 attributes that measure grit. The third finding showed that there was not a significant difference on how superintendents self-reported their level of grit and how subordinates perceived their superintendents’ level of grit. The last finding revealed the personal and leadership attributes that contribute to a superintendents’ grittiness were purposeful perseverance, others focused, having a goal or vision to work toward, life experiences in formative years, being competitive and having high expectations, a willingness to work hard, having an outlet outside of work to maintain balance, having a supportive network of colleagues, and acknowledging and celebrating small wins.