Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Justin Bathon


Since launching Sputnik in 1957, the United States education system has been trying to climb to the top of the international education rankings. The Organisation for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD) began analyzing how well school systems prepared students to compete in the global economy in 2000. The OECD uses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). U.S. students rank at or near the OECD averages in reading and science but consistently perform below the OECD average in mathematics. In addition to the PISA, the OECD released the PISA for Schools, which provides PISA data at the school level.

In 2010, the OECD released its report, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA for the United States, in which the OECD proposes strategies and recommendations for the USA education system. Among these recommendations are highly qualified school administrators. Through extensive analysis of studies about effective leadership practices, Hitt and Tucker (2016) developed a unified model of effective leadership practices that yields theoretical support for the framework used for this study. The framework used for this study is the Globally Competent Educational Leadership Framework (GCELF). This study aims to determine if Kentucky high school principals whose schools use PISA for Schools use effective leadership practices for global competence identified by Tichnor-Wagner and Manise (2019). The principals were selected because their schools use PISA for Schools and focus on global competency for students in mission.

A qualitative methods approach integrating two parts was used for this study. This is an exploratory case study using a set of researcher-created principal interview questions, a tour of the high schools, a document analysis, and an analysis of the schools’ PISA for Schools results as background data. The goals for the study were to (a) produce research about how leadership practices relate to the global preparedness of students in Kentucky schools administering PISA for Schools using the Globally Competent Educational Leadership framework (Tichnor-Wagner, 2019), (b) identify global competency leadership practices of selected Kentucky principals and their level of immersion in these practices using the high schools’ success on PISA for Schools founded on the baseline proficiency indicating preparedness for global competitiveness, and (c) explore potential additional research in this area to increase the knowledge base and inform leadership practice and policy.

The study’s findings show that the principals lead with different styles but incorporate leadership practices that align with the GCELF, mainly at the “First Steps” level. These principals are preparing their graduates to be globally competent at initial levels based on GCELF alignment and PISA for Schools results. An extension of this study that could provide additional beneficial information is to change the parameters and conduct the study with principals whose schools do not administer PISA for Schools to determine if their leadership practices align with the GCELF.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)