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Distributed Leadership for Middle School Mathematics Education: Content Area Leadership Expertise in Practice

Overview:

The investigators propose a mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) study of distributed content leadership in middle school mathematics. There is little research on what content, pedagogical, and diagnostic knowledge leaders must have to effectively assist teachers in implementing demands of rigorous mathematics instruction and student learning. This research builds on prior research of the investigators who examined distributed leadership at the elementary school level. However, this research will go much deeper into defining and understanding the leaders and the roles they play.

Much of the project is devoted to developing instruments to measure mathematics content leadership as distributed in middle schools. Specifically, the team proposes to develop, test, and validate measurement instruments of content leadership practice and knowledge and to examine how content leadership affects how teachers teach. They also propose to test whether content leadership can be learned. All of this work will be conducted in the context of a Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Teacher Institute for the 21sth Century site.

Intellectual Merit:

The proposed program of work fills a major gap in the knowledge base by generating new information and evidence about content leadership knowledge and practices as they relate to improvement in mathematics education. The senior research team brings together experienced scholars and teachers from mathematics, mathematics education, teacher learning, leadership, policy, and statistics.

The research is divided into two main parts. The first will focus on the development, piloting, and validation of instrumentation for identifying and documenting content area leadership practice for middle school mathematics. The second part will study the nature (i.e., the what, the how and the why) of content area leadership practice for middle school mathematics and its relations to (a) leadership development and (b) classroom teachers and teaching.

Broader Impact:

This work may have significant broad impact by generating usable knowledge and methodological tools that will be of considerable interest to MSPs and Institute Partnerships and to the school systems around the nation. By focusing on content leadership in urban schools, this work will contribute to improving mathematics education for urban youth, who have historically been underserved by many school systems.