Competency gaps among assistant principals: Impacts on satisfaction and job role differentiation




Woods, Brian T.

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The problem to be investigated in this study is caused by the juxtaposition of several factors. First, there is significant evidence that principal leadership has positive, albeit indirect, impacts on student achievement. Second, there is also evidence that sitting principals are leaving the profession for a variety of reasons. Third, assistant principals have traditionally been the likely source of principal replacement candidates. However, assistant principals seem less likely to aspire to the principalship and there is significant evidence that even among aspirants, these APs are poorly prepared for the work of the principalship. This combination of factors points to a possible leadership crisis in schools and is the rationale behind an in-depth study of the work and job satisfaction of assistant principals.

The purpose of this research is to determine the extent to which perceived competency gaps in the work of assistant principals (APs) impact their job satisfaction and whether there is a significant difference in these competency gaps and job satisfaction between traditionally managerial assistant principals and a new group of academic administrators. A portion of this study attempts to replicate the work of Kwan and Walker (2008, 2010) in a completely different context. Kwan and Walker (2008, 2010) found that competency gaps exist for APs and that these gaps are tied to job satisfaction. The remainder of this study attempts to separate APs into two groups - one whose work is managerial and the other who is tasked, at least by job description, as involved primarily in the work of curriculum and instruction. The goal of this last portion of the study is to determine if job competencies and job satisfaction are really different between the two groups of APs.

The first portion of this study utilized t-tests to verify the existence of competency gaps for APs, Pearson Product Moment correlation to determine the relationship between the gaps and overall AP job satisfaction and linear regression to determine which areas of competency gap predicted job satisfaction. The second portion of the study utilized ANOVA to measure the differences on job competencies and satisfaction between the two types of APs. Evidence was found to indicate that competency gaps exist for the overall group of APs and that these gaps are related to job satisfaction. Further, the evidence shows that the two groups of APs have significantly different competency gaps. However, there was no statistical difference found in job satisfaction between the two types of APs.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Academic Dean, Aspiration, Assistant Principal, Job Competencies, Job Roles, Job Satisfaction



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies