Indicator 8

Instructional leaders’ participation in professional development on creating conditions that support STEM learning

Indicator 8 concerns instructional leaders’ participation in professional development on creating conditions that support STEM learning. Some of these conditions may be specific to STEM, while many are aspects of a positive school climate that supports all kinds of academic learning.

Related DCL Awards (1): Mandinach & Orland


Priority: Low

The Successful K-12 STEM Education committee considered this a key indicator to monitor, but the Monitoring Progress committee did not. Considerable research supports the idea that principals are very important in shaping the climate and allocation of resources within a school that enable good STEM education. However, there is very little research on what kinds of PD enable principals to do this better and even less that suggests specific ways in which principals could enhance STEM teaching and learning. STEM Indicators project advisors viewed this as a low-priority indicator as it is currently framed because very little evidence exists suggesting that PD changes principals’ effectiveness or student outcomes in STEM.

Operational Definition

Indicator 8 is defined as the participation of in-service principals and other school leaders (such as department chairs) in formal or informal activities designed to enhance their ability to serve as instructional leaders in one or more of the STEM subject areas. STEM Indicators project advisors pointed to emerging research on the importance of teacher evaluation and feedback (Steinberg & Sartain, forthcoming; Taylor & Tyler, 2012). Asking principals whether they have received training on evaluating and providing feedback specific to math and science instruction would be one aspect of measuring Indicator 8.

The Monitoring Progress report states that for Indicator 8, professional development for leaders should be defined broadly and could include such activities as coaching and time to discuss work with peers. The NRC committee was initially interested in examining PD on creating a school climate for learning in general as well as PD on becoming an instructional leader for STEM. The proposed operational definition focuses on just the latter purpose because project advisors believed this to be the most pressing need with respect to enhancing STEM instruction.

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