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Regional Educational Laboratory Program

Evaluation of a District-Wide Implementation of a Professional Learning Community Initiative


Description: The West Chester Area School District (WCASD) in Pennsylvania planned for the implementation of professional learning communities (PLCs) in all of the District's schools beginning with the 2013–14 school year. The PLCs are intended to facilitate the professional development of teachers in the District by engaging them in a collaborative process of collective inquiry that is focused on student learning and student outcomes. The Superintendent of WCASD sought assistance with evaluating the first year of implementation of PLCs in the district. In response to WCASD's request, REL Mid-Atlantic will conduct a study to describe the process of implementing PLCs in WCASD during the first year of implementation. The study will also assess and compare the progress that PLC teams make on implementing the PLC protocols during the first year of implementation.

Research Questions:

  1. How do PLC teams implement the WCASD PLC protocols? That is, what collaborative teamwork routines do they develop to achieve the key attributes of PLCs and the key tasks listed in the District's PLC protocol?
  2. How do WCASD teachers and principals evaluate their experience with the program? Is their actual PLC experience the same or different than what they expected it to be before the implementation of the program? How do teachers' evaluation of the program and of the implementation compare with those of principals?
  3. What specific artifacts (e.g., essential learning targets, standardized common assessments, and systematic interventions) are produced by each PLC team?

Study Design: We will use survey and interview data collected from teachers and principals in the District to document and compare different co-constructions of PLCs and to describe the PLC experience of both teachers and principals and how each group evaluated that experience relative to their initial expectations as well as relative to one another. We will use the same data, in aggregated form, to describe and compare the experience of PLC teams and assess their progress toward the six attributes and on the completion of the tasks specified in the District PLC protocols.

Projected Release Date: Early 2015

Research Alliance: Professional Learning Research Alliance, REL Mid-Atlantic

Keywords: Professional development, Instructional Methods or Teaching Practices, School leaders, Teachers, Pennsylvania, Descriptive statistics, Interviews, Surveys. Professional Learning Communities

Study Related Products: Online Models of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): A Review of the Literature

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:
Cindy Blitz,