Annual Report Overviews
Part I. Annual Overview
The Mesa Systemic Initiative (MSI) is a K-8 project that serves 48 elementary schools and 12 junior high schools. In 1997-98 there were 1,854 total participants including 1,402 elementary school teachers, 148 junior high mathematics teachers, 86 junior high science teachers, 139 specialists, and 79 principals and assistant principals. The MSI mission is the improvement of science and mathematics instruction through site-based learning communities and cross-district support. Central to the project is the development of site-based teacher leaders, based on the assumption they can be instrumental in introducing teaching practices as described by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and National Science Education Standards.
In this third school year of the project 1,854 certified teachers and administrators participated in 67,602 hours of MSI supported professional development for an average of 36.5 hours per participant. To date (11/6/98) 180,550 hours of science, mathematics and technology professional development have been recorded over the length of the project.
A shift in training from pedagogy to content was more evident in year three, as educators sought to adapt new strategies and resources (such as use of manipulatives and computers in the classroom) to specific applications towards science and mathematics curriculum requirements.
280 teachers held site-based leadership positions in math, science and technology. These teachers participated in extensive training, which included monthly meetings addressing curriculum content, pedagogy and leadership skills. Teacher leaders completed an average of 60 professional development hours each in 1997-98 school year. They functioned in different leadership roles at their schools, as members of their school professional development planning teams and facilitated professional development specific to their site-based learning communities.
Developing the role of the teacher-leader continues to be a major focus of the Mesa Systemic Initiative and holds the long-term key to sustainability. An expanded Third Year Evaluation Report from Lesley College and the staff of its Professional Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) will focus in large part on MSI teacher-leadership and learning community development to date. That report is expected at the end of the year and will be forwarded to NSF as a companion evaluation to the HRI Year Three Core Report.
Traditional and Non-traditional Models
A wide range of models were successful in generating professional development time for teachers. These included study groups, seminars, mentors, demonstration lessons, video sessions, long-term summer institutes and university classes, among others.
One of our most successful models, the special presenter, continued to grow in hours and impact on participating schools. 1,241 elementary classrooms were served by MSIs twenty-three special presenters in school year 97-98. Thirty-three out of forty-eight elementary schools utilized the program to provide students with high interest instructional modules in science, mathematics and technology. The part-time staff providing instruction in these special units became very adept at presenting the materials. The units themselves were refined extensively from repetition, evaluation and revision. The classroom teachers for whom the special presenter substituted during these sessions could then participate in two and one half hours of focused, on-site professional development. A sampling of these teacher enhancement activities included:
A Systemic Effort
Mesa Public Schools have a long-standing record of "growing their own talent" and the success of MSIs first three years has been in building a supportive structure to extend that base. The science, mathematics and technology departments share in the staffing, coordination and implementation of all MSI efforts. Other professional development projects including Goals 2000, Career Ladder and the MPS Professional Development Department have collaborated to insure consistency and continuity.