Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The relationship between grade-level team implementation of professional learning communities and student achievement in math
by Lesar, Peter V., Ed.D., Northern Arizona University, 2013, 148; 3606820
Abstract (Summary)

With changing academic standards, more rigorous state assessments, growing diversity among student populations, decreased school funding, and high achievement expectations from the state and federal government, teachers have a very challenging and demanding job. Fully aware of these high expectations from the education community, school leaders and teachers continue to explore strategies that will improve the quality of classroom instruction and help increase achievement for all students.

This study was conducted in a large urban K-12 school district in the southwestern United States with a district enrollment of approximately 63,000 students. The study employed a multi-method, correlational, descriptive, non-experimental research design. Quantitative data were collected through teacher completion of a professional learning community (PLC) questionnaire and the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) math assessment. The Professional Learning Communities Assessment-Revised (PLCA-R) questionnaire enabled teachers to report the extent to which they engage in practices known to support the development of a well-functioning PLC. In addition, qualitative data were collected through individual teacher interviews.

This study determined the correlation between grade-level team overall implementation of PLCs measured by teacher completion of the PLCA-R questionnaire and student achievement of fourth-grade students measured by the AIMS math assessment. The study also determined the correlation between the individual dimensions of PLC implementation by grade-level teams measured by teacher completion of the PLCA-R questionnaire and student achievement of fourth-grade students measured by the AIMS math assessment. The individual dimensions of PLCs included shared and supportive leadership, shared values and vision, collective learning and application, shared personal practice, supportive conditions-relationships, and supportive conditions-structures.

A Pearson product-moment analysis found no significant correlation between grade-level team implementation of PLCs, overall or by dimension, and fourth-grade student achievement measured by AIMS math percent passing scores and median growth percentiles. Although no significant correlation was found, qualitative data from the in-depth individual teacher interviews resulted in several themes related to PLCs and student achievement. Teachers spoke passionately about knowledge of student performance, quality of instruction, support for collaboration, and shared leadership and how those factors relate to improved teaching and increased student learning.

The results of this study may help other leaders and educators understand more completely the relationship between the dimensions of PLCs and student achievement. Furthermore, the study provides implications for practice that may enhance teacher collaboration with a focus on improved instructional practices and high levels of learning for all students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, William
Commitee: Delecki, Walter, Salas, Kenneth, Wiggall, Richard
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mathematics education, Educational leadership, Elementary education
Keywords: Collaboration, Educational leadership, Instructional improvement, Mathematics achievement, PLC implementation, Professional learning communities
Publication Number: 3606820
ISBN: 9781303640919
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