Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Jason LaFrance

Committee Member 1

Bryan Griffin

Committee Member 2

Paul Brinson


This quantitative, non-experimental, correlational study examined the relationship between secondary school staff perceptions of their school’s effectiveness and the change in student literacy over a one year period. The staff perception data was elicited through an anonymous, electronically administered survey, the SEDL’s School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ) (Hord, 1996). Perceptions were gathered and measured based on the responses to descriptors in the five PLC domains of shared and supportive leadership; shared vision and values; collective learning and application of learning; supportive conditions; and shared personal practice. The populations whose perceptions were measured were the staffs of middle and high schools in a large, urban school district in the south- central region of the United States. The staff perceptions of each responding school were correlated with that school’s change in student literacy data, as measured by normalized gain score representative of the difference in the percentage of the first-time tester student cohort who achieved the 2016 passing standard on the Grade 8 Reading exam (sixth-eighth grade schools) and the 2016 passing standard on the English 2 EOC exam (sixth-12th grade schools and ninth- 12th grade schools) in spring 2015 and in spring 2016. This study was grounded conceptually in the five components of a school operating as a PLC, as defined by Hord (1996, 2004) and expounded upon by Hipp and Huffman (2003). The angle of this research was based theoretically in the principal-agent theory (Bannock, Baxter, & Davis, 1992; Barney & Hesterly, 1996) and distributive leadership theory (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2007). The purpose of the study was to determine how the relationships between the perception data of the staff as a whole and of the distinct groups of administrators and teachers within a secondary school were correlated with changes in student literacy, and how differences in the perception data between the two distinct groups were correlated with changes in student literacy. This study contributes to the existing body of research by providing correlational data on which components of a PLC are the most highly correlated with changes in adolescent literacy in an urban school district in America.

Research Data and Supplementary Material