The effects of the instructional partnership program on teacher academic optimism and collaboration in elementary schools in north central Alabama
Research on teacher academic optimism within the context of elementary schools is relatively scarce. This dearth of research is, in part, because teacher academic optimism is essentially a new construct; therefore, most studies have sought to confirm that academic optimism is a latent construct. The purpose of this study was to examine the links between participation in a collaborative partnership initiative, collaboration among teachers, and teacher academic optimism. Over the past ten years, the Alabama Legislature and the State Department of Education have made many efforts to bring about reform and positive change in schools. To date, there has not been any consistent empirical research exploring the effects of the Instructional Partnership Network (IPN) in Alabama schools, an initiative that was designed to strengthen he instructional leadership within the school. Teachers within sixteen elementary schools within the Tuscaloosa City and the Tuscaloosa County school districts participated in the study. The rationale for this study was that because of the focus of the IPN program to increase leadership and collaboration among teachers and principals, and essentially to create a more collaborative working environment, both teacher collaboration and overall academic optimism among the teachers would increase because of participation in the program. The sample consisted of teachers from eight schools from Tuscaloosa City and teachers from eight schools from Tuscaloosa County. The participants completed a survey with questions used to measure academic optimism, collaboration, and perceptions of the Instructional Partnership Network program. It was found that while teacher academic optimism was not significantly higher in IPN schools as compared to non-IPN schools, perceptions about collaboration with colleagues was significantly higher in IPN schools as compared to non-IPN schools. Furthermore, there was a statistically significantly positive correlation between teacher perceptions of the implementation of IPN and both academic optimism and teacher collaboration.