High School Professional Learning Communities: A Multiple Case Study

Baran, John, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Van Hover, Stephanie, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The purpose of this multiple-case study was to understand how teachers in English 11 and Algebra 1 at Wheatland High School (WHS) make sense of the purpose and focus of PLCs. The problems of practice that guided this multiple-case study were: Has the focus of PLCs in the Buchanan School District (BSD) and at WHS stayed consistent since implementation? Do the teachers at WHS adhere to the principles of the DuFour and Eaker (1998) model of PLC? The procedures for data collection included interviews of teachers and administrators, observations of PLC team meetings, and the review of documents associated with the PLC teams. There were two main findings of this multiple-case study: (1) PLC team meetings at WHS did not reflect many of the core elements of the DuFour and Eaker (1998) model; and (2) the focus of the PLC teams differed. The Algebra 1 PLC team largely focused on the state-mandated end-of-course standardized tests, while the English PLC team focused on developing team collegiality and a singular common assessment. As a result of the findings, there were two recommendations: (1) Both BSD and WHS should clarify the purpose and focus of PLC teams as well as identify the optimal use of PLC time within the context of the goals of the school division; (2) WHS should provide sustained and differentiated professional development to teachers in the DuFour and Eaker (1998) model of PLC.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
PLCs, Multiple-Case Study, Standardized Tests
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