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The MTA Leadership Program has been very successful in developing an intensive professional development program to simultaneously build technical, curriculum integration, and leadership skills. The program is well regarded by participants and appears to be having positive effects in Maryland schools.
During the first 3 years of its operation, the MTA Leadership Program provided intensive training to 340 Maryland educators. Every school district in Maryland had educators participate in the program. Approximately three quarters of Fellows were classroom teachers at the time they attended the Summer Institute.
The MTA Leadership Program has been very successful in changing Fellows’ attitudes and beliefs about the potential of technology and themselves as technology users. In particular, Fellows showed statistically significant gains in their comfort using technology and in their confidence that they had the skills needed to effectively integrate technology into instruction.
Fellows also gained a wide variety of technical and curriculum integration skills. In a long-term follow-up survey, about half of Fellows reported being a great deal more familiar with the instructional potential of technology; more able to design collaborative, inquiry-based learning activities using technology; and more able to design learning experiences using technology that are linked to curriculum goals and state assessments.
Fellows gave a lot of credit to the MTA for their skills gains. In about half of the specific skill areas, at least three fourths of Fellows attributed a substantial amount of their skill gain to the program.
A long-term follow-up survey was administered in Spring 2002. Fellows who responded to this survey considered themselves to be much more proficient using technology than they had been prior to attending the Summer Institute. More than 40 percent reported having advanced skills, compared with less than 14 percent reporting that skill level on the pre-Institute questionnaire. Another 53 percent reported having high intermediate skills on the long-term follow-up survey. About three quarters of Fellows believed they were definitely more able to use technology effectively in instruction as a result of their participation in the program.
During the Summer Institute, Fellows gained confidence in their ability to use technology in instruction and to help other educators. They retained that confidence long after the Institute ended. At long-term follow-up, about two thirds of Fellows believed that they were definitely better equipped to help others.
Most Fellows were very satisfied with the quality and variety of the instruction they received during the Summer Institute. In particular, they believed that the topics addressed were relevant to their needs, that instructors were competent, that the curriculum was sufficiently varied and flexible, and that the projects they developed would be useful to them.
Fellows greatly valued the networking opportunities afforded by participation in the MTA Leadership Program. Virtually all Fellows in all three cohorts agreed that networking at the Summer Institute was valuable. Nearly 60 percent still felt that they were part of the MTA “community” when they responded to the long-term follow-up survey.
Fellows used technology more frequently after participating in the Leadership Program. There were increases in frequency of use both for productivity and in instruction. Most dramatic were changes in frequency of use for instruction. On the long-term follow-up survey, more than 80 percent of Fellows reported using technology very frequently with students. They used technology in a range of ways, but most common uses were to gather information, create and publish text, create graphics and other visuals, and report results from investigations. Fellows also used technology in various ways to help lower-achieving students succeed.
At the time of the long-term follow-up survey in Spring 2002, about two thirds of Fellows were in the same position they held when they attended the Summer Institute. Of those who had changed, about 40 percent considered the new position to be a promotion. Other indicators of the career progress of Fellows were the percentage earning or pursuing graduate degrees and the percentage who achieved a higher level of certification.
Fellows contributed to their schools and districts by supporting MTA Satellite Programs, providing training and assistance to others, and assuming a wide range of leadership positions. Nearly one third of Fellows were involved in a Satellite Program in some way, most commonly as Associates, members of the program planning team, or instructors. They also provided a substantial amount of training and assistance to other educators through just-in-time training, mentoring, and in-service workshops. Most commonly, their leadership roles were at the building level, such as serving on the School Improvement Team or school technology committee. More than half the time, the leadership role was assumed after they attended the Summer Institute.
In summary, it appears that Fellows gained confidence in their ability to use technology and increased their technology integration skills. Most believed they had high-intermediate or advanced technology skills. They increased the frequency of using technology and used it in varied ways with their students. Fellows contributed to the Satellite Programs, provided training and assistance to other educators, and took on important leadership roles.
The evaluation of the Maryland Technology Academy Leadership Program was conducted by an independent third-party evaluator. In the first two years of the program’s operation, the evaluation results provided formative feedback to program implementers that lead to substantial changes in the design of the program. In all years, the primary focus of the evaluation was on ascertaining the degree to which Fellows acquired targeted skills and determining the effect of the program on the instructional practice and leadership behaviors of Fellows.
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