Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara J. Mallory

Committee Member 1

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 2

Paul "Mac" Brinson

Committee Member 3

Sharon Brooks

Abstract

As public demands for school accountability continue to increase due to federal legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, educators struggle to meet rising minimum standards. In an effort to address these pressures and search for ways to improve, educators consider implementing a professional learning community model which focuses on the improvement of teaching and learning. While attributes and characteristics of professional learning communities are documented in the literature, little is known about how the model is established or sustained. The purpose of this case study was to understand how one middle school implemented a professional learning community model and planned for sustainability of the model. More specifically, the researcher determined the schools level of immersion in the basic dimensions of a professional learning community, identified compelling and constraining forces affecting implementation, and assessed beliefs of certified personnel about the sustainability of the model. As a quantitative method, a survey instrument to assess perceptions of the faculty on instructional practices was administered to certified personnel. Descriptive statistics reported were mean, median, mode, and standard deviation. Qualitative methods used in this case study included an interview with the principal, a focus group discussion with 5 certified personnel selected by the principal as being knowledgeable about reform efforts in the school, a focus group discussion with 5 certified personnel randomly selected by the researcher, observations of professional learning community meetings, and a review of artifacts. Findings indicated the school was deeply immersed in the basic dimensions of professional learning communities. In addition, compelling forces impacting implementation were categorized as: (a) leadership, (b) time, (c) small changes, (d) staff attitude, (e) on-site expertise, (f) risk-free environment, and (g) system level support. Constraining forces were categorized as: (a) time and logistical issues, (b) staff attitude, (c) stressors and demands, (d) professional development, (e) teacher turnover, (f) student population, and (g) external forces. Factors leading to sustainability of the model were categorized as: (a) leadership, (b) staff recruitment, (c) system level support, and (d) planning for leadership succession.

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