Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

The Influence of Professional Learning Communities on Student Achievement in Elementary Schools
Rebecca F. Ratts, James L. Pate, James G. Archibald, Shirley P. Andrews, Chester C. Ballard, Katherine S. Lowney

The Professional Learning Community (PLC) process has been cited by researchers and professional organizations as having potential to impact student achievement in a positive manner. As the current era of highstakes accountability has left teachers struggling to improve the quality of teaching and learning, PLCs have been recommended to foster collaboration and make teacher practices public. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine elementary teachers’ descriptions of their PLCs to determine if practice of the principles had an effect on student academic performance. A quantitative research design was implemented to explore the extent to which teacher training in PLC principles, the actual practice of PLC principles, and student achievement were related. A survey was utilized to collect data regarding 194 teachers’ perceptions of the existence of four dimensions of PLCs within their schools, 4 years of CRCT data was examined to measure student achievement, and descriptive and inferential statistics were used to look for possible relationships between the factors. Statistical examination indicated PLC members who observed peers, provided feedback on instructional practices, worked with colleagues to judge student work quality, and collaboratively reviewed student work to improve instructional analysis were more likely to improve their quality of teaching. Further results indicated positive correlations between teacher level of education and observing peers, and between level of education and providing feedback on instructional practices. Positive correlations were also identified between student achievement on standardized assessments and teacher practice of collaboratively reviewing student work, working with colleagues to judge the quality of student work, and discussing student-centered educational issues.

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