The Relationship between Professional Learning Communities and Student Achievement in Virginia
Pinello, Kimberly Ann
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Many K-12 schools across the US have embraced the philosophy of professional learning communities (PLC) as a school improvement measure; however significant quantitative research is lacking on the effectiveness of this phenomenon. Survey data were collected from a purposeful sample of elementary school principals or designees from four large school divisions in three metropolitan areas in Virginia. The survey incorporated questions regarding demographic information, including pass rates on the Virginia English and Math SOL tests for 2015-2016, the percentage of students classified as economically disadvantaged, the school's experience as a PLC, as well as Hord's (1996) School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ) instrument, to determine functionality as a PLC. Of the 158 surveys distributed, 74 were returned for a 47% return rate. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, including a hierarchical multiple regression analysis. The results of the hierarchical multiple regression support a predictive relationship between English SOL pass rates and the independent variables of economically disadvantaged students and the degree of functionality of PLCs. The model significantly predicted English SOL pass rates (F(2,71) = 70.86, p < 0.001, adjusted R2 = 0.66). Second, the results of the hierarchical multiple regression support a predictive relationship between Math SOL pass rates and the independent variables of economically disadvantaged students and the degree of functionality of PLCs. The model significantly predicted Math SOL pass rates (F(2,71) = 33.21, p < 0.001, adjusted R2 = 0.47). Lastly, there was no statistically significant relationship between the number of years a school had operated as a PLC and the functionality of the PLC (r = 0.16, p = 0.17). The findings may assist school leaders in determining the benefits of PLCs on student achievement as measured by pass rates on Virginia's English and Math SOL tests.
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