Mesa Systemic Initiative
Bob Box, Principal Investigator
The Mesa Systemic Initiative (MSI) is a K-8 project that serves 50 elementary schools and 12 junior high schools. There are 2,374 participants, including 1,541 elementary school teachers, 117 junior high mathematics teachers, 68 junior high science teachers, 39 science and math teachers, 10 special education teachers, 407 retired/non-tracked teachers, 117 specialists, and 75 principals and administrative interns. 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.
The project has five goals to move teachers toward effective instruction:
- Goal #1: Establish site-based learning communities for science and math.
- Goal #2: Develop leadership at each school to support science, mathematics, and technology improvement.
- Goal #3: Move beyond the mechanical use of science and mathematics curriculum.
- Goal #4: Expand support for diversity and equity in special populations.
- Goal #5: Strengthen the support system for new teacher skill development in science and mathematics instruction.
In the first four years of the grant, tracked participants have received an average of 111 hours of professional development in science, mathematics and technology. 744 district courses, site-based inservice, institutes, conferences or workshops were supported by MSI in 1998-99. Summer Institutes alone generated 27,381 professional development hours in 1999.
MPS Teacher Professional Development Hours
* Note: total hours overlap curriculum areas
As noted in the Year Four Core Evaluation Report from Lesley College accomplishments include:
- Implementation of new professional development systems at the district level have generated significant support and are likely to be continued. These include the Special Presenter program, Math Extravaganza, and Summer Institutes.
- Professional development is now being offered across many different formats, from formal to informal, both cross-district and on-site. Teachers are less engaged in traditional "sit and get" sessions.
- Schools and teachers develop their own professional development plans for the year from numerous offerings.
- Professional development design is balanced between teachers' expressed needs and the need to train them on new science and math curriculum materials and state objectives. Substantial feedback from participants in workshops and seminars informs the design.
- Teacher leaders have increased their capacity for delivery of on-site professional development and support of content and pedagogy. These designated classroom teachers have a larger role for insuring the sustainability of the project goals.
- Professional development under the MSI has increased school to school and department to department collaboration. Emphasis on the "learning community" concept has produced observable, measurable results.
- Facilitators model good, standards-based pedagogy where teachers are treated as professionals.
- The technology department, with both MSI and Goals 2000 funding, has capitalized on the heavy emphasis in computer training over the last four years to model the integration of science and mathematics.
- The support of principals for the science program has increased significantly over the last year through such activities as the Principals' Roundtable, Principals' Institute, and encouragement of principals to attend national and local science conferences.