Lead Teachers are a central element of PRISM, thus both their opinions and experiences have been an ongoing and important focus of PRISM evaluation efforts throughout the project. Lead teachers work was also monitored by the PRISM Evaluation Team. Each region was assigned an internal and external evaluator to assess progress toward PRISM goals, collect data for PRISM benchmarks, provide feedback to both the state leadership team and the region for continual improvement, and disseminate findings. Since the beginning of PRISM, evaluators have attended state leadership team meetings, state and regional Institutes, regional coordinating committee meetings, professional learning activities, learning community meetings, and the Lead Teacher Academies to observe the lead teachers at work in diverse settings.
To determine the ways in which PRISM teachers support improvement in teaching and learning science and mathematics, the formative evaluation design collected and analyzed data from:
1. Lead Teacher rating system
Each region was given the flexibility of creating a lead teacher rating system of expected activities to determine how much each Lead Teacher receives in compensation for her/his work during the academic year. The use of the rating systems provide focus for the lead teachers and inform PRISM staff of areas where support is needed. For example in the NE region, district liaisons from the three partner districts worked together to identify critical work components. Then, each district liaison worked with their lead teachers to modify their assessments to incorporate specific district goals. In one region, the district lead teacher rating systems were compared with the PRISM-defined lead teacher roles and responsibilities. The primary purpose of this comparison was to determine the extent to which the PRISM-defined roles were aligned with the reward structure, as described in the rating system and to determine whether or not when responsibilities and reward structure were aligned if the lead teachers reported assuming those responsibilities.
2. Pre-and post-assessments during the Lead Teacher Academies
PRISM Lead Teachers were pre and post-assessed during each lead teacher academy using a rubric using a five-point scale ranging from 1=knowledge or ability to apply is non-existent to 5=consistent, expert knowledge and ability to apply to rate the extent to which they would be able to assume the duties of a lead teacher in their school based on leadership skills, professional learning, communication and data/evaluation.
3. Participant evaluations of Lead Teacher Academies
Over 350 PRISM Lead Teachers received training through the PRISM Lead Teacher Academies in developing and delivering science and/or mathematics professional learning, facilitating P-16 learning communities, data collection methods, and in serving as a change agent. A 5-point Likert -scale survey was distributed to participants at the completion of each Lead Teacher Academy asking them rate the extent to which they gained a clear understanding of the goals of PRISM,
4. PRISM Lead Teacher Survey
The evaluation team completed a case study on lead teacher work in each region in the fall of 2006. As part of the case studies, the PRISM Lead Teacher survey was administered electronically via email to 283 PRISM Lead Teachers focusing on the work that they accomplished during the 2005-06 school year. Data were collected and analyzed from 145 Lead Teachers regarding their job roles, length of time as a lead teacher, if they were a member of a learning community, and their engagement in certain lead teachers activities. They were also asked to describe problems they encountered in their role as lead teacher and to describe strategies they used to address these problems.