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External Evaluation of VMSC Workshop Series Designed for Principals of Elementary & Middle Schools


"In a 2010 case study of Virginia's MSP, the authors describe school principals as "the ultimate determiners of the work of the Mathematics Specialists in their school." To cultivate greater support among these school-based leaders, workshops (referred to as Principal Institutes) were held for middle school administrators during 2011-12 as part of the current NSF-funded MSP grant. The Institutes included a two-day session in October, followed by a one-day session in March, and culminated with another two-day session in June (five days in all). In addition, project leaders, with co-sponsorship from the Virginia Math and Science Coalition, offered a set of three-day workshops for principals in schools outside the MSP grant. Each was comprised of a two-day session in October/November, followed by a one-day session in January/February. The Institutes were "oversubscribed" within one day of advertising, prompting the Virginia Department of Education to fund an additional six offerings. In all, the Institutes will reach 270 principals instead of the 90 originally proposed.

Both types of Institutes (the three- and five-day) sought to build administrators' capacity in two areas primarily: (1) understanding what good mathematics instruction looks like; and (2) understanding administrators' roles as mathematics instructional leaders.

This brief report provides feedback on the Institutes, drawn largely from interviews conducted by Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI) with six principals who attended the five-day sessions. In addition, HRI interviewed three principals from the three-day Institutes and analyzed survey responses from over 70 participants in these Institutes."