Helen Kirby

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Mike Richardson, Robert Prickett, H.D. Cline

Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Degree Type

Educational Specialist


Stress has become a problem to which people of all walks of life may relate, affecting the actions of the individual on both professional and personal levels. In the field of education, administrators often report a high level of stress, sometimes referred to as burnout. Much has been written about teacher stress, but very little research has been done on stress encountered by elementary principals. Research was conducted on stress as perceived by elementary principals in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for this study.

The questionnaire used was compiled by the researcher using Koff, Laffey, Olson and Cichon’s table of Stress Ratings on Administrative Events as a source for the situations included. Demographic information that might influence stress was also incorporated in the questionnaire. The Kentucky Elementary Principal’s Questionnaire on Stress Indicators was administered to a random sample of 200 elementary principals. Of 200 questionnaires mailed, 115 were returned for a 57.5 percent response.

The mean age of the respondents was 47 years of age, with 67.8 percent of the respondents being male and the majority married (84.3 percent). Respondents indicated that 64.3 percent plan to retire in the next 5 years.

Of the 24 stressful situations, forcing the resignation or dismissal of a teacher had the highest rating – 4.26 – on a scale from 1 to 5. Dealing with unsatisfactory performance of professional staff was second with the rating of 3.96. The third highest stressful situation was legal action against the principal or the school with a rating of 3.90. Fourth, rated at 3.74, was involuntary transfer to another principalship. The lowest stress rating – 1.83 – was working with school district central administration.

The data indicated that the significant correlations between demographic data and stressful situations were limited. Only two situations, namely forcing the resignation or dismissal of a teacher and dealing with unsatisfactory performance of professional staff, significantly correlated with the variables of male gender, age, and number of years as a principal.


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences