Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler School of Education


Marcia O'Neil

Committee Member

John W. Billings

Committee Member

Ronald P. Kern


Educational leadership, Educational administration, Educational tests and measurements, DuFour, Hord, Professional Learning Community, School Climate, School Culture


The Professional Learning Community as a Model to Improve Student Achievement in Grade 4 English Language Arts. Joseph Foster Drolette, 2012: Applied Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University, Abraham S. Fischler School of Educations. ERIC Descriptors: Educational Environment, Collaborative Teachers, Professional Development, Instructional Effectiveness, Teacher Leadership

This applied dissertation was designed to determine if a reform initiative to develop professional learning communities within a local public school district would impact student achievement and improve the culture of the school district. The purpose of program evaluation was to examine to what extent, if any, the establishment of a professional learning community (PLC) among the teachers in Grade 4 had on student achievement and what impact, if any, the PLC of the teachers in Grade 4 would impact school culture at the elementary level. The PLC model is used to facilitate teachers' collaborative working groups, promote shared decision making between teachers and administrators, and address student achievement issues. With a significant number of research articles and case studies available, the PLC model is a vehicle to formalize teacher collaboration in the areas of curriculum planning, analysis of student data, strategic planning, and shared decision making.

Student data from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment was used to measure the impact of the professional development activities of the PLC on student achievement. Results from Grade 4 DIBELS data were used to assess the effectiveness of PLC professional development training. DIBELS data from previous school year cohorts were analyzed for comparative purposes to assess the PLC impact. An analysis of the DIBELS data results revealed a decline in the number of at-risk students following the implementation of the PLC. Inclusion of additional grade levels and extending the time of the study over several academic years could enhance future research.

The School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ), a 16-question Likert-scale survey to measure the degree of effectiveness the PLC model has on school culture and teacher perceptions concerning the effect of PLC activities, was used in a pre- and postintervention format. The PLC, composed of 24 Grade 4 teachers and including specialists who delivered music, art, and physical education, completed the SPSLCQ. For the purposes of reporting, survey results were divided into five dimensions: shared leadership, shared vision, collective creativity, peer review, and supportive conditions. The researcher compared the mean scores of the pretest and posttest results in the five dimensions to determine if the activities of the PLC were effective in producing a significant difference in the mean scores. An analysis of the data did not reveal a statistically significant difference in pretest and posttest mean scores. Future research could broaden the sample size with the inclusion of multiple grade-level teachers and extending the time period of the study.

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