The purpose of this study was to discover the ways that central office and school level leaders initiate and advance a culture of continuous professional learning in high schools. The conceptual framework for this study was built from a synthesis of literature related to professional learning and leadership for continuous improvement. Relying heavily on the five dimensions of professional learning communities advanced by Shirley Hord (2004), multiple descriptive research methods were used to investigate the leadership practices and development processes that resulted in a learning culture in two high schools. A survey (Oliver, Hipp, & Huffman, 2003) was given to all licensed staff in order to assess the perceptions about the leadership practices and development processes. Interviews were conducted with administrator and teacher leaders. Documents that archived the aspects of the development process also were sought and used in the data analysis.
Findings revealed the following development strategies were employed by leaders in both school districts and high schools: (1) defining a reason for change, (2) aligning resources to the mission and vision, (3) engaging in shared decision-making that is accepted and practiced by all, (4) offering high quality professional development, (5) supporting and respecting teacher leaders, (6) creating structures for accountability and reflection, and (7) designating leaders to provide accurate and purposeful data on which to base instructional decisions. Each high school was able to create a culture of continuous professional learning by implementing these seven dimensions at critical periods during their journey. Further, a three-stage framework became apparent during data analysis that provides a chronological description of how the two high schools journeyed to create a culture of continuous improvement and professional learning. Specific implications for practice, policy and research are offered in the concluding sections of this thesis.
Unversity of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. December 2009. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. Jennifer York-Barr. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 242 pages, appendices A-L.
Borchers, Bruce Todd.
A study to determine the practices of high school principals and central office administrators who effectively foster continuous professional learning in high schools..
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