Investigating Relationships between Understanding of Inquiry Mathematics, District Context, and School Context on Principal Instructional Leadership Aimed at Ambitious Instruction
Larbi-Cherif, Adrian Mohamed
Several studies have identified positive relationships between strong principal instructional leadership and improved student outcomes. However, few researchers have examined how principals influence the nature of instruction, particularly as it relates to ambitious goals for student learning. I conducted a mixed-methods analysis to investigate relationships between principals’ understanding of inquiry-oriented mathematics instruction, district context, school context, and the extent to which they implemented strategies that had the potential to support teachers’ development of ambitious instructional practices. In a logistic regression analysis, I found district membership significantly predicted the implementation of improvement strategies rather than principals’ understanding of inquiry-oriented mathematics instruction. A follow-up qualitative analysis revealed that principals who implemented improvement strategies often sought out other instructional leaders (e.g. district math specialists, school math coach) to both diagnose issues in current math instruction and facilitate learning events (e.g. professional development) to foster improvements in the quality of instruction. Additionally, principals who implemented instructional improvement strategies worked in districts that provided more support for principals as instructional leaders and worked with teachers who had greater instructional expertise. Additional research is needed to understand how principals come to recognize and value instructional leaders with expertise in inquiry-oriented math instruction.