Mathematics and instructional leadership: Knowledge and its relationship to supervision and support

Selma Kerlin Bartholomew-Mabry, Fordham University


Student performance on local, state, national, and international assessment, such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, has stimulated many debates about teaching and learning in mathematics classrooms across the United States. Good teaching is paramount to successful student learning. However, becoming a good mathematics teacher requires knowledge of subject matter, pedagogical content, and curricula. Yet, the daily reality of most mathematics teachers is that learning is often disconnected from their classroom needs and they may feel unsupported in the continuum of acquiring knowledge. The principal is a key figure in that process. In spite of need, the question of the importance of the role of the principal and his or her background in mathematics instructional leadership has gone untested and unchallenged. This study considers the question of how high school mathematics teachers and principals support each other to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning. More specifically, it investigated the effects of support from and knowledge of principals and other key actors (department chairs, assistant principals, fellow mathematics teachers, district and professional organizations) on teacher efficacy, satisfaction, and priorities. Utilizing a quasi-experimental design and surveying 90 mathematics teachers within two northeastern states, the following hypothesis was proposed: Efficacy and satisfaction will be higher among teachers currently working in schools with principals as compared with teachers working in schools without a mathematics principal. Results indicate that mathematics teachers working in schools with mathematics principals reported higher means for their sense of satisfaction, efficacy, priority, and priority met. Results also suggest that the role of the district and professional organizations influence mathematics teachers' sense of support. Contributors to teachers' satisfaction, priority, and priority met include principal support, peer support, and the math environment. The findings highlight the importance of mathematics instructional leadership and the role of principals in implementing and sustaining mathematics reform for the purpose of closing the achievement gap. Results are discussed in regard to policy and reform efforts in education.

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Bartholomew-Mabry, Selma Kerlin, "Mathematics and instructional leadership: Knowledge and its relationship to supervision and support" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3166559.