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Full Project Description

Project Abstract

Studies are beginning to demonstrate the positive effects of trained teacher leaders on school reform.  Embracing science and mathematics instruction initiatives, this project is developed around the needs of existing and aspiring teacher leaders in the Duval County Public Schools - the 16th largest school district in the nation, with a large percentage of low socioeconomic status (SES) students challenged to bolster their achievement in science and mathematics.  Under the Jacksonville Urban Systemic Initiative (JUSI), a National Science Foundation-sponsored program designed to reform science and mathematics instruction and reduce the achievement gap between high and low achieving students (many of whom are underserved minorities), one goal of teacher training is the development of teacher leaders emphasizing action research as a professional development approach.  This new project studies the sustained effects of a group of these teacher leaders in K-12 mathematics and science classrooms, specifically the impacts on student achievement and teacher collaboration.

This research project will expand the previous efforts and focus on the challenging issues of sustainability and impact on students by answering the following questions:

  • What are the effects of networking teachers who have participated in graduate courses and professional development programs that emphasize action research on teacher leaders in science and mathematics and their practice in their own settings?
  • To what degree are the development and support of teachers doing action research associated with improved student achievement and interest in science and mathematics?
  • What are the factors that promote ongoing partnerships between institutions of higher education and K-12 schools to sustain inquiry-oriented professional development?

To determine the effects of the ongoing action research and teacher networking as professional development experiences, the following quantitative and qualitative methods will be used:

  • Surveys, interviews, and focus groups involving teacher participants in sustained action research-oriented professional development in order to gauge changes in practice.
  • Teacher analyses of their data resulting from continued cycles of their action research.
  • Comparison of student grades, standardized test scores, absenteeism, class completion, and interest in further science and mathematics education with school and district data.
  • Surveys and interviews of key project partners and the analysis of artifacts generated.

The anticipated products of the research project are

  • a real and virtual network of teacher leaders implementing action research,

  • teacher-generated assessment data and disaggregated data comparing students in project teacher classes with relevant school and district performance data,

  • a model for teacher development that includes characteristics inherent in changed behaviors associated with action research leading to enhanced student performance,

  • a dedicated website sharing the project and teacher action plans and experiences, and

  • a manual describing action research for teacher leaders including real examples of teacher-generated problems, data, and results, with implications for schools, districts, and the state of Florida. 


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