Getting from Here to There: The Roles of Policy Makers and Principals in Increasing Science Teacher Quality

Apr. 20, 2010

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(3):283–307. (April, 2010)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the authors focus on the professional perspectives and actions of federal and state policy makers and school principals as they address the problem of science teacher quality.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:
• How is the issue of science teacher quality addressed by federal and state policy makers?
• How do school principals customize these policies and create new policy solutions to improve the quality of science teaching in their schools?

Interviews, focused discussions, and policy documents serve as the primary data source.

Findings suggest that both policy makers and principals prioritize increasing incentives for teachers entering the science teaching profession. Furthermore, both groups provide professional development for new teachers, and using students’ data to evaluate and improve instruction.

Differences between the two leadership groups emerged in terms of the grain size and practicality of their concerns.


Based on the findings, the authors make the following policy recommendations.
1) Increase the Number of Channels for Communication Among Policy Makers at Different Levels
2) Form Communities of School Principals to Improve Science Teacher Quality

3) Call for Educational Researchers to Attend to Policy Issues


The findings indicate that the work of the principal and the policy maker are both necessary to the solution though neither is sufficient in and of itself. Increasing science teacher quality requires the involvement of stakeholders from both levels. Principal communities, and the use of technology to create communication channels among principals, policy makers, and science education researchers are promising mechanisms for generating effective policy at the federal, state, and school level.

Updated: Sep. 19, 2010