Opening Pandora's box : Texas elementary campus administrators use of educational policy and highly qualified classroom teachers professional development through data-informed decisions for science education
Federal educational policy, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, focused attention on America’s education with conspicuous results. One aspect, highly qualified classroom teacher and principal (HQ), was taxing since states established individual accountability structures. The HQ impact and use of data-informed decision-making (DIDM) for Texas elementary science education monitoring by campus administrators, Campus Instruction Leader (CILs), provides crucial relationships to 5th grade students’ learning and achievement. Forty years research determined improved student results when sustained, supported, and focused professional development (PD) for teachers is available. Using mixed methods research, this study applied quantitative and qualitative analysis from two, electronic, on-line surveys: Texas Elementary, Intermediate or Middle School Teacher Survey© and the Texas Elementary Campus Administrator Survey© with results from 22.3% Texas school districts representing 487 elementary campuses surveyed. Participants selected in random, stratified sampling of 5th grade teachers who attended local Texas Regional Collaboratives science professional development (PD) programs between 2003-2008. Survey information compared statistically to campus-level average passing rate scores on the 5th grade science TAKS using Statistical Process Software (SPSS). Written comments from both surveys analyzed with Qualitative Survey Research (NVivo) software. Due to the level of uncertainty of variables within a large statewide study, Mauchly’s Test of Sphericity statistical test used to validate repeated measures factor ANOVAs. Although few individual results were statistically significant, when jointly analyzed, striking constructs were revealed regarding the impact of HQ policy applications and elementary CILs use of data-informed decisions on improving 5th grade students’ achievement and teachers’ PD learning science content. Some constructs included the use of data-warehouse programs; teachers’ applications of DIDM to modify lessons for differentiated science instruction, the numbers of years’ teachers attended science PD, and teachers’ influence on CILs staffing decisions. Yet CILs reported 14% of Texas elementary campuses had limited or no science education programs due to federal policy requirement for reading and mathematics. Three hypothesis components were supported and accepted from research data resulted in two models addressing elementary science, science education PD, and CILs impact for federal policy applications.