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The Work of CSMP Teacher Leaders: A Summary of Key Findings From a Statewide Survey

author: Inverness Research Associates
submitter: Mark St. John
description: This is one of three reports (Including The Contributions of Teacher Leaders and The Work of Teacher Leaders) wrriten by Inverness Associates on the California Subject Matter Projects (CSMP). "The CSMPs consist of nine Projects providing professional development in nine different 101 regional sites--all of which are designed to attract, develop, nurture, sustain, and promote teacher leadership."

This report examines the scale and nature of CSMP teacher leadership statewide and assesses the work of individual sites in determining the degree that they were successful in developing and deploying teacher leaders.

published in: Inverness Research Associates
published: 1999
posted to site: 01/14/1999

The Work of CSMP Teacher Leaders:
A Summary of Key Findings
From a Statewide Survey



Developing and supporting teacher leadership is the raison d’être of the California Subject Matter Projects (CSMPs). The CSMPs have the goal of serving all of the teachers in the state; however, current funding levels equate to an allotment of only $64 per teacher statewide. Consequently, the CSMPs rely on a model that seeks to leverage its resources through the development and deployment of teacher leadership. Currently, the CSMPs consist of nine Projects providing professional development in nine different disciplines.1 Collectively, the Projects operate a total of 101 regional sites — all of which are designed to attract, develop, nurture, sustain and promote teacher leadership.

To date, Inverness Research Associates has carefully documented the activities of these nine Projects and 101 sites. We have conducted an annual site survey that has provided us with careful counts of the activities, participants and costs of all CSMP sites over the past four years. These surveys have also provided us with some initial estimates of the numbers of teacher leaders working at each site, and the nature and extent of their leadership activities. 2

The teacher leadership that is developed and supported by the CSMPs can be seen to have influence in three different spheres:

Spheres of Influence for CSMP Teacher Leadership

  • In the first sphere the CSMP sites draw upon the teachers in their sites' "teacher leadership pool" to help conduct the institutes and workshops offered by the sites.
  • In the second sphere CSMP teacher leaders are providing district and school-based professional development activities as part of contracts or agreements that are established between local CSMP sites and nearby districts.
  • In the third sphere CSMP teacher leaders are engaged in a wide range of leadership activities that have no formal connection with the CSMPs. For example, they provide workshops at the meetings of professional associations; they assume leadership roles on school restructuring teams; they are part of a district teacher leadership team; or they simply provide a local and visible example of good teaching through the sharing of their own classroom practices.

The annual site survey has provided extensive information about the nature and extent of CSMP teacher leadership in the first two spheres. Little was documented, however, about the third sphere of teacher leadership. That is, we had no firsthand data that helped us understand the degree to which and the ways in which CSMP teacher leaders were assuming leadership roles in venues not officially associated with the activities of the Subject Matter Projects. To learn more about those teacher leadership roles, Inverness Research designed a survey that was to be sent directly to and completed by CSMP teacher leaders. The survey asked each teacher about his or her leadership activities over the past several years and was designed to provide a detailed picture of all three spheres of teacher leadership activities.3

More specifically, the teacher leader survey had three purposes:

  • to provide a sense of the scale and nature of CSMP teacher leadership activities statewide;
  • to check the data gathered by the annual site survey by collecting information directly from large numbers of active CSMP teacher leaders; and
  • to assess the work of individual Projects and sites, determining the degree to which they were successful in developing and deploying teacher leaders.

In the spring of 1996 we distributed surveys to Site Directors4 and asked them, in turn, to send a survey to all their "active" teacher leaders. In this case "active teacher leaders" were defined as teachers who: 1) had been actively involved with their site in the previous 12 months, or 2) may not have been actively involved with their site in the previous 12 months, but who nonetheless had played a strong and sustained leadership role at the site in recent years.

On our annual site surveys CSMP Site Directors indicated that there were over 8,700 teacher leaders actively supported by and engaged in CSMP leadership activities. However, the number of teacher leader surveys requested by Site Directors for distribution was just over 3,000. Ultimately, we received 1,313 completed surveys.5 This sample, we believe, is large enough to allow us to make generalizations about the nature of the leadership activities CSMP teachers are engaged in. The data we gathered also allows us to be more precise about the venues in which teacher leaders are working, the amount of time they are spending on their leadership tasks, and the degree to which they feel the CSMPs are supporting their leadership efforts. We do not, however, feel that the sample is comprehensive, nor even large enough to estimate the total amount of teacher leadership activity that is currently being supported by the CSMPs.

The study findings in this report are organized around the following six questions:

  1. Who are the CSMP teacher leaders who responded to the survey?

  2. What is the nature and extent of teacher leaders’ involvement with the Projects and sites?

  3. Where do teacher leaders carry out their leadership work?

  4. What specific leadership activities are CSMP teacher leaders engaged in?

  5. Which schools and districts do teacher leaders serve?

  6. How well are the CSMP sites supporting teacher leadership?

We end this report with some final thoughts about the implications of the survey findings for future efforts to support teacher leadership in the state.


1 The nine disciplines are Arts, Foreign Languages, History and Social Sciences, International Studies, Math, Physical Education and Health, Reading and Literature, Science, and Writing. Physical Education and Health is the newest Project, and is therefore less documented. It was not included in this study.

2 Those studies are summarized in "The California Subject Matter Projects: A Summary of Evaluation Findings - 1993 to 1996." December 1996, Inverness Research Associates, Inverness, CA.

3 This teacher leader survey also builds upon our earlier studies of teacher leadership. In 1994 we conducted in-depth case studies of 12 teacher leaders and a survey of over 200 teacher leaders - both of which explored in detail the contributions the CSMPs are making to the development of teacher leaders. (See June 1997 Inverness Research Associates report: "The Nature of Teacher Leadership: Lessons Learned from the CSMPs.")

4 At the time of the survey, there were 97 sites. The Physical Education and Health Project was not yet fully operational.

5 1,206 of the teacher leaders indicated which site sent the survey.

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