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Administrators' Science Education Academy


Background and Rationale --

Research over the last two decades has established that focusing on instructional leadership is a key strategy for school improvement and that supporting school-based leaders plays an important role in improving lower achieving schools.  A 2003 study focused on five high-poverty school districts in the US that were making progress in improving student achievement.  Recognizing that effective instruction was crucial to this improvement the study learned that one of the primary means of promoting good instruction in these systems was the redefinition of the role of school leadership beyond the principal.  It also found that principal and teacher leaders were crucial in defining the district systems of instructional leadership.(1)

Teacher leaders are most effective in schools with distributed leadership cultures – schools where administrators and teachers have formed a community dedicated to the teaching and learning of their students.(2)  Having taken note of the research evidence, we also have our own first-hand experiences with Master of Chemistry Education Program teacher-participants over the past 5 years.  One of the recurring “excuses”, “reasons” and/or “perceptions” of numerous teachers was that ‘administrators stand in the way of teacher initiated changes in instruction and curriculum’. 

Wishing to alleviate these ‘perceptions’ and address the research evidence, we have included the Administrators’ Science Education Academy as an important piece of our Penn Science Teacher Institute. Each Penn STI teacher-participant from a Core Partner School will have an administrator-partner who will attend the Academy.  The teacher-administrator pair will have an on-going project on which to work over the first year of the teacher participation.  (top)

(1) Beyond Islands of Excellence:  What Districts Can Do to Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools – A Leadership Brief, (2003), by Learning First Alliance, funded by U.S. Department of Education.

(2) Silva, D.Y., et. al. (August 2000) Sliding the Doors:  Locking and Unlocking Possibilities for Teacher Leadership; Teachers College Record, V. 102, No.4, p. 779-804.

The Academy …

  • Is being designed in collaboration with the Penn's Center for Educational Leadership (PCEL).
  • Offers Act 48 credit, graduate continuing education credit and/or a Leadership Certificate in Science Education to each participating administrator
  •  Will seek:
    • to foster administrators’ understanding of the changes and innovations in science instruction and
    • to investigate how to evaluate such instruction
    • to introduce administrators to hands-on science instruction with new research based science education materials by having administrators participate in such lessons and
    • to provide opportunities for discussion with administrative colleagues, of the implications of these ideas for their own leadership roles and the leadership roles of their Penn STI teacher-partner (top)

Academy Design --

  • The Academy will consist of 6 days of workshop during the first year in which a teacher participates in the Penn STI program.
  • Three consecutive days in the summer, and 1 fall, 1 winter and 1 spring Saturday
  • Workshops will be daylong (9:00 am – 3:30 pm) and
  • Provide a parking permit, continental breakfast and lunch each day. 
  • They will be held on the Penn campus located in West Philadelphia.
  • Summer 2007– Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, July 24-26, 2007

Summer Plans: 

  • There will be assigned readings for daily morning discussion on such topics as leadership (administrators, teachers and administrator-teacher teams), the influence of ‘school culture’ on teacher attitudes and leadership, current research on how people learn, etc. These discussions are led by Dr. John DeFlaminis, Executive Director of PCEL.
  • Additionally, administrators will learn about Penn STI, and the MISE and MCE Program requirements and classes. 
  • Two afternoons will include ‘hands-on’ lessons in science (middle grades one day, secondary one day) with half of the administrators participating and half observing.  Following the lessons the instructor and the observing administrators will discuss the lesson design and features and critique the lesson. 
  • Information will also be shared on our NSF required external evaluation process and the data to be collected from teacher-participants and their students.  
  • Finally, administrators will be “partnering” with their teacher as the teacher selects and carries out an action research project over the next academic year.  An introduction to this project will be included in the summer session. (top)

Once participants are selected for summer 2007, the administrator-participants will be contacted with detailed information on the sessions. 

Also, a sitehas been established on the electronic communications tools Blackboard for administrators to use to continue discussions and collaborations with their Academy colleagues between sessions.

Fall 2007– Saturday, November TBA, 2007

  • This day will be planned based on administrator input during the summer. In 2006 the topic was "Using Data to Enhance Educational Decision Making" with Dr. Jon Supovitz of Penn's GSE.

 Winter 2006/07, Spring 2007– one Saturday each.  TBA (top)


Evaluation Information for Core Partners and Administrators

Background and Rationale



Summer: July 24 - 26, 2007

Fall: Saturday, date TBA


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Funded through NSF EHR 0412404  

Penn Science Teacher Institute
Dr. Larry Gladney, Director
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Chemistry
231 South 34 Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323