Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Montgomery


Researchers have shown that effective use of student data by teachers can inform teaching practice, leading to improved outcomes on standardized tests. In order to improve declining test scores at the middle school under study, professional development on the use of data teams was implemented. However, a year after implementation, teachers were still not utilizing data within their professional learning communities (PLC) effectively or at all. This qualitative case study addressed the problem of the need for teachers to use data more effectively. The conceptual framework of the study was based on the models of PLCs by DuFour and of data teams by Love. The research questions addressed how teachers perceived and used data in their PLCs in order to improve instruction. Qualitative data were collected from individual interviews with 7 teachers, observations of 8 PLC meetings, and review of PLC documents. Triangulation and member checking were used to bolster trustworthiness of interpretations. The data analysis led to 4 common themes: teachers felt they were forced to use data, had excessive responsibilities within PLCs, were busy with other required tasks, and needed more training on data use. The findings led to the design of a 5-day professional development series on data teams to be implemented at the middle school. This study has the potential to increase teacher capacity in using student data to inform instruction and to improve student achievement at the local school and district levels.

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