Over the past 15 years, professional learning communities (PLCs) became popular among school systems across the United States as a means to improve teaching and student achievement. As they have with many educational initiatives, researchers have analyzed various aspects and outcomes of the PLC. One area of PLC research that was neglected was how an elementary school teaching staff’s level of maturity as a PLC impacted student achievement. Most of the available information on the effectiveness of PLCs and their influence on student achievement was not the subject of a great deal of empirical research, especially from the point of view of the teacher.
The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine how an elementary school teaching staff’s maturity as a PLC, according to Hord’s conceptual framework, impacted student achievement. A sequential explanatory mixed methods design was used to collect data. In this study, the School Professional Staff as a Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ) was used to collect data on elementary school staffs’ level of maturity as a PLC. This study also used the Short Form of the Collective Efficacy-Short Scale (CE-Scale), and an 11-Item questionnaire to collect data. A Pearson product-moment correlation was performed to determine if there was a relationship between Hord’s five PLC dimensions, CE-Scale, and student achievement on the SOL mathematics, English reading, and English writing assessments. Qualitative data were collected by conducting focus groups to understand the mechanisms that influenced a teaching staff’s maturity level as a PLC on a school’s fifth grade mathematics, English reading, and English writing SOL assessment scores.
The results of the Pearson product-moment correlation were mixed. In several cases, they showed an inverse relationship between several of the PLC principles and student achievement. The findings from focus group portion of this study helped elucidate several of the PLC mechanisms that were prominent or absent amongst schools high and low maturity schools. Mixing the data explained that particular PLC mechanisms contributed to the positive relationship between an elementary teaching staff’s level of maturity as a PLC and student achievement on the mathematics, English reading, and English writing SOL assessments.
|Commitee:||Blain, Anita, Swayze, Susan|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Educational Leadership and Administration|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, School administration, Elementary education|
|Keywords:||Achievement, Educational leadership, Hord, Shirley M., Leadership, PLC, PLC maturity, Professional learning communities, Student achievement|
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