An examination of a district-wide implementation of professional learning communities through the lenses of leadership capacity and student learning
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The purpose of this study was to focus on how a school district built leadership capacity through the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC). With the intense demands for increased student achievement and the resultant accountability required for that achievement by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, as well as the frequent turnover of building principals and district leaders, building the capacity of all educators to be leaders is a necessity. Utilizing the process of PLCs to build this leadership capacity is a research-based method for effectively growing the leadership capacity within schools and districts. This case study was conducted in a small Midwestern school district comprised of five buildings: a primary, elementary, intermediate, middle, and high school. Interviews were conducted with the superintendent, the five building principals, and focus groups comprised of members of each building leadership team. Data collection methods included audio recording interviews and an examination of students' academic achievement over the past five years, from 2006 through 2010. The study findings revealed five themes: 1) collaboration grew versus working in isolation, 2) a sense of collective responsibility for the success of all students was developed, 3) an inquiry-based use of data to inform decisions and instruction emerged, 4) shared leadership resulted, and 5) the principal is a key factor in the implementation of PLCs.
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