Developing Teacher Leaders
Authors: Dava Coleman, Sheila Jones

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5. Conclusions

PRISM has incorporated a Lead Teacher concept as the centerpiece of its efforts to improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics.  Lead teachers felt that they were doing "important work."  A representative assertion by one lead teacher suggested that being "a PRISM lead teacher provides and opportunity for teacher[s] to grow and develop academically and socially."  The key to the success of developing effective PRISM teacher leaders has been the opportunities for leadership training through the Lead Teacher Academies and the multi-level support provided to them. 

Although there are no data currently to suggest a direct or causal link between lead teacher work and improved student learning, achievement scores have increased in PRISM schools.  For example:

  • Spring 2007 CRCT test results show PRISM districts posting a greater change in percent meeting or exceeding standards at all grade levels in science and mathematics when compared similar districts and the state.
  • Improvement on state achievement tests is greater in PRISM schools (elementary, middle and high) than for comparable districts. 
  • PRISM districts are closing the Black-White achievement gap in mathematics and science while the comparable districts are seeing the gaps stay the same or in some cases grow larger.
  • Spring 2007 Georgia High School Mathematics Graduation Test results show 11 of 15 PRISM districts meeting or exceeding the state score - up from 6 in 2003.
  • Spring 2007 Georgia High School Science Graduation Test results show 11 of 15 PRISM districts increasing their previous year's score - and 10 districts meeting or exceeding the state score.
  • Spring 2007 SAT Math results show 11 districts improving their average score with 9 meeting or exceeding the state score - up from 3 in 2003.

Using the leadership abilities of teachers to support reform in teaching science and mathematics can be successful with training and support.  What we have learned about enhancing the skills of teacher leaders has been incorporated into the new PRISM Teacher Leader Program.