This study’s purpose is to explore grit attributes California urban school superintendents demonstrated. The literature review revealed 5 grit attributes: courage, conscientiousness, endurance toward long-term goals, optimism and resilience, and excellence over perfection. There is scant scholarly research connecting urban school superintendents to the 5 grit attributes and understanding grit’s 5 attributes school district leaders reflected is valuable to the industry and the profession. This research implemented a qualitative methodology. Following an extensive review of the literature, a panel of experts developed and reviewed research questions to establish validity. The data collected were gathered from publicly available and accessible published texts regarding superintendents from 7 California urban school districts. Corresponding text from the data sources were reviewed and compared with the grit attributes in the theoretical framework in order to code for themes. The themes were reviewed for alignment to the 5 attributes of grit theory that formed this study’s conceptual framework. Limitations included that there was no interaction with superintendents in this study as only publicly available information served as data, and urban school districts in only 1 state were represented in this study. Findings based on publicly accessed information revealed 15 practices of demonstrating grit in 5 categories: 2 practices demonstrating the attribute of courage; 3 practices demonstrating the attribute of conscientiousness; 5 practices demonstrating the attribute of endurance toward long-term goals; 3 practices demonstrating the attribute of optimism and resilience; and 2 practices demonstrating the attribute of excellence over perfection. In addition to correlating practices with the 5 attributes of grit theory, more than 70 authors supported the 4 theoretical components. The results of the study provide information that can assist leaders, persons providing professional development, and policymakers in education. The data in this study support the relationship of the grit attributes as school superintendents in California urban settings demonstrated. This research adds to the literature regarding the disciplines of educational leadership, organizational leadership, and positive psychology in organizations, including topics related to persistence and resiliency studies. Additionally, the results of this study add to the existing body of literature specifically related to grit theories.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Resilience (Personality trait) -- Case studies; School superintendents -- California

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hyatt, Laura;