Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
K-12 schools in the United States face challenges to close the achievement gap, improve student learning and teacher instruction, and increase students' and educators' accountability. A professional learning community (PLC) was implemented to improve instruction and student learning at a K-5 elementary school located in the Western region of the United States. A bounded qualitative case study was used to conduct a modified formative objectives-oriented program evaluation to determine whether the collaboration and collective inquiry goals were met. This study was guided by DuFour's PLC framework. Research questions focused on how PLC team members developed and maintained the PLC goals to improve student achievement. Data were collected using document review and semistructured interviews from 10 teachers, 1 learning coach, and 2 administrators who participated in the PLC implementation for the 2015/16 school year. Thematic analysis using a priori, open, and axial codes were used to analyze the data and were related to the conceptual framework. Findings indicated that PLC teams used collaborative conversations/reflective dialogue to research and share strategies and used data-driven decisions to improve instruction and improve student achievement. PLC teams need to establish and monitor team goals and use vertical and horizontal planning. The project deliverable was a program evaluation report that provided recommendations to improve the PLC goals. Positive social change could occur if PLC teams partner with all teams, reflect on teaching practices, and use student data to improve teacher and student learning to close the achievement gap among students.