Becoming A PRIME Leader - A Commitment To Our Future

When we move on, people do not remember us for what we do for ourselves. They remember us for what we do for them. They are the inheritors of our work. One of the great joys and grave responsibilities of leaders is making sure that those in their care live lives not only of success, but also of significance.
Kouzes and Posner, A Leader's Legacy, 2006

NCSM members are unique. We are a community of mathematics education leaders preK-16, yet we are widely defined in those leadership roles. From department chairperson to district coordinator K-8, mathematics coach to college or university supervisor and teacher, from province, county, or district curriculum and assessment leader to third grade team leader and from assistant principal to department technology leader-NCSM members wear a wide variety of hats, and I have only named a few.

Yet, we are brought together by the social glue of our common core values for the improvement of mathematics education. The NCSM Mission and Vision is built upon the four core vision points described in our 2007 revision and reflect our organizational acronym:

N: Network to ensure the growth of mathematics education leaders.
C: Communicate best practices to all stakeholders.
S: Support improved student achievement.
M: Motivate a life-long commitment to equity.

For the words of our NCSM vision statement to come alive as part of our local school leadership culture, NCSM is providing guidance to its members by asking them to become PRIME leaders.

What is a PRIME Leader? PRIME is the acronym for:

PRinciples and Indicators for Mathematics Education Leaders

A research-affirmed leadership framework, PRIME describes actions for mathematics education leaders across all settings preK-12, in all of their complexity. The framework describes four specific domains of leadership focus and responsibility viewed through the lens of three essential themes.

Theme 1: Success for every student, teacher, and leader
Theme 2: Research-affirmed teacher and leader actions
Theme 3: Teacher collaboration and professional learning

Four primary domains or principles of leadership responsibility anchor an improved future for mathematics education:

Leadership Principle 1 - Equity
ensuring high quality mathematics learning for every student.

Leadership Principle 2 - Teaching and Learning
ensuring high expectations and access to meaningful mathematics every day.

Leadership Principle 3 - Curriculum
ensuring meaningful and relevant mathematics in every lesson.

Leadership Principle 4 - Assessment
ensuring high levels of learning for every student.

The four PRIME Leadership Framework Principles, each with three specific indicators for leadership actions, represent the conditions that need to exist in our schools if every student is to experience improved achievement in mathematics.

The trending toward these conditions will be dependent upon the expert knowledge development and learning of our own members-those in the arena of mathematics education leadership-as well as non-members in the leadership arena.

Given the complexity of leadership, the framework provides a pathway for novice leaders and can guide the focus for collaborative leadership efforts between the novice and experienced leader as professionals. The framework answers these questions:

What does an effective mathematics education leader need to know?

What does an accomplished leader do?

The NCSM Board believes the PRIME Leadership Framework provides the context and structure for leadership discussions that will result in improved teacher and student learning, and serve the core vision and values of our leadership organization.

Ultimately, PRIME leaders will enable, discover, and fulfill their own leadership potential. School mathematics programs will only get better when leaders open themselves and other teachers to new ideas, risk imaginatively, and enthusiastically inspire those they lead with a desire to learn and grow together. It is the PRIME leader who will close the "knowing-doing" equity gap between the teacher knowledge to enhance student achievement and the requisite actions consistent with that knowledge.

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"The NCSM PRIME Leadership Framework identifies specific principles, indicators, knowledge, and skills necessary to lead other adults beyond the current status of student performance in mathematics into a focused, more equitable and successful future. This framework for the professional practice of mathematics education leadership actions can be used to meet the needs of novice leaders as well as to enhance the skills of veteran leaders. It serves as a tool to guide conversations and actions about leadership around indicators of exemplary practice, and it provides the language, focus, and actions for professional conversations with colleagues in the context of the workplace.

The PRIME Leadership Framework aims to describe actions for mathematics education leaders across all settings, preK-12, in all of its complexity. It begins by identifying the key leadership principle in each of four domains of mathematics leadership: equity, teaching and learning, curriculum, and assessment. It goes on to identify three specific indicators of leadership in each domain. Each indicator is further broken down into specific actions that fall on a continuum of three stages of leadership growth ranging from knowing and modeling leadership, to collaborating and implementing structures for shared leadership on a local level, to advocating and systematizing improvements into the wider educational community. The framework concludes with tools for reflection, self-evaluation, and discussion."
NCSM, PRIME Leadership Framework (2008, page 2)

Read the NCSM PRIME Executive Summary from the PRIME Leadership Framework

One of the inherent aspects of the Stage 2 leadership responsibilities of PRIME is the necessity to develop PRIME Teachers and Teaching. We hope you will be able to use PRIME to start discussions in your Department or school around these expectations for action.

Below you will find PDFs of the powerpoint slides used for the opening launch of PRIME, the two breakout sessions on PRIME, the video used during the opening 40th Annual meeting session, presentations for each Principle of PRIME of and a copy of the PRIME leaders' powerpoint used during the caucus sessions. Also included is a PDF of the Presidents message: A PRIME leader's legacy.

PRIME Presentations

PRIME Videos

What is the Voice of a PRIME Leader?



Have a Voice, Make a Difference

It's TIME: Themes and Imperatives for Mathematics Education

A Call to Action for Mathematics Leaders

It's TIME-Themes and Imperatives for Mathematics Education is a mathematics leadership framework that articulates a set of leadership imperatives and presents a systemic framework to convert our shared vision into a reality of consistently high levels of mathematics learning for all students. The framework summarizes the imperatives that constitute the call to action for successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) and high levels of student achievement.

This call to action provides the focused leadership strategies, resources, and insights necessary to significantly improve the productivity of the mathematics education system. Our mathematics leadership actions must:

  • impact every student and every teacher in every classroom,
  • build the capacity of both people and systems,
  • follow the guiding mantras that this call to action is a joint effort and we can make a difference together,
  • recognize the systemic nature and interrelated components of the educational enterprise, and
  • recognize that change of this magnitude takes time.

Download the Executive Summary

Free Preview! Chapter 1

Purchase online


Order a copy of the PRIME Leadership Framework today for yourself or colleagues for further discussion and planning.