Current federal legislation, such as No Child Left Behind and The Race to the
Top, have elicited high levels of accountability for increasing student reading
achievement. Professional organizations and researchers encourage educators to organize
schools into professional learning communities (PLCs) to improve student learning.
Despite the increasing popularity of the term PLC, actually transforming the culture of a
school into a PLC continues to be a complex and challenging task. Leadership has been
identified in studies as a critical element of change that leads to improvement. Research
is needed to define the principal’s practices that are successful in developing and
sustaining a school-wide professional learning community.
This qualitative study addresses successful leadership practices of principals in
four schools that are “beating the odds” in reading. These schools are at or above the
district mean proficiency on the MCAII and have higher ELL and poverty levels than
other elementary schools in the district.Through one-on-one interviews with principals,
classroom teachers, intervention teachers, special education teachers, and coaches as well
as principal observations and artifact collection, data was gathered to learn more about
the daily actions and decisions of principals in these schools. Data collection was guided
by five attributes of professional learning communities—shared leadership, shared values
and vision, deprivatized practice, collective creativity, and supportive conditions.
The major findings of the study identified the following principal actions as
conducive to the establishment of professional learning communities: (a) teachers had
input in curriculum, instruction, and assessment decisions; (b) school building level
systems (committees, staff meeting norms) were involved in decision making and
information dispersion; (c) schools had a reading instructional framework informed by
research; (d) grade-level and cross grade-level collaboration on reading instruction
included reflecting on practice, reviewing student work, common planning, studying
research, and analyzing student data; (e) teaching peers provided instructional support to
colleagues by mentoring, observing, and co-teaching; (f) a high commitment to quality
instruction and achievement elicited collective creativity via seeking research,
professional development and internet resources; and (g) extrinsic recognition of student
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Dr. Barbara M. Taylor. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 182 pages, appendices A-F.
Reimer, Tracy Lynn.
A study on the principal’s role in the development of professional learning communities in elementary schools that “beat the odds” in reading..
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.