Professional Learning Communities in Improved Illinois Elementary Schools: The Value of Professional Learning Communities for Leaders of Illinois Elementary Schools Formerly in "no Child Left Behind" Status (2012)
Repository: Loyola University Chicago: Loyola eCommons
The "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 has created a system, which potentially labeled 82% of US school as "failing" in 2011. Consequences for failing schools go beyond public ostracism to the release of numerous staff and school leaders or the closing of the school. Reforms to prevent these consequences come in two forms, structural and cultural. Structural reforms in schools are often include hiring staff or implementing new programs. Often structural reforms only focus on non-proficient or nearly proficient students. Cultural reforms change the way staff educate all students. One specific cultural reform system, which contains elements of many other cultural reforms, is Professional Learning Communities (PLC). To determine the value of PLCs and structural reforms three types of leaders of Illinois elementary schools were electronically surveyed. The three groups were schools that failed to make NCLB benchmarks for two or more years but then improved and met NCLB benchmarks for two consecutive years, schools in restructuring, and schools defined by the Illinois State Board of Education as consistently high performing schools called Spot Light Schools. The survey asked the value school leaders placed on these structural and cultural elements. After a statistical analysis three conclusions could be formed. First, leaders of formerly failing schools but improved and Spot Light schools both value PLC elements significantly more than leaders of schools in restructuring. Secondly, successful and Spot Light schools both value cultural reforms significantly more than structural reforms. Finally, the value restructuring leaders assigned to PLC elements was greater than mathematic structural reforms.