Investigating the Effects of Sustained Professional Development on Campus and District Mathematics Programs: an Analysis of the Rice University Mathematics Leadership Institute
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The heightened demands on school administrators today require them to work collaboratively with teacher leaders on their campuses. The Rice University Mathematics Leadership Institute (RUMLI) was an attempt to develop the capacity of teacher leaders to help advance systemic changes in their schools and districts. The primary purpose of RUMLI was to address an inability to meet a large, persistent, and growing demand for guidance in mathematics on many high school campuses. The purpose of this study was to identify the short- and long-term effects of RUMLI on the lead teachers who participated in the program and on their schools and school districts. The study was conducted using archival data collected throughout the program and through surveys and interviews conducted five years after the conclusion of the program. Archival data collected during the program included demographic information about lead teachers and results of a survey conducted immediately after the conclusion of the program. Survey data collected as part of this study were compared quantitatively and qualitatively to survey data collected in the past to see what changes in attitudes or perceptions of lead teachers may have occurred. In addition, interviews were conducted with selected RUMLI lead teachers, with building principals of the lead teachers’ current schools, and with district mathematics administrators. Interview data were analyzed qualitatively to determine themes that emerged, and results were compared with archival interview and survey data. Some of the most prevalent themes that emerged from the data included the prominence of the development of lead teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge, the increased confidence and professionalism of lead teachers, the importance of communities and networking among lead teachers, the varied roles of lead teachers in their schools and districts, and the positive and negative effects of school administrators on the work of lead teachers. The results of this study will inform researchers interested in the long-term impacts of extended programs designed to develop teacher leaders as well as administrators and teacher leaders as they attempt to negotiate their roles in campus leadership.