A case study: elementary teacher perceptions of professional learning communities and student achievement

The purpose of this case study was to document teacher perceptions of how components of professional learning communities create a collaborative environment for teacher lesson sharing and improve lesson preparation to increase student achievement. Components of professional learning communities includes collaboration time with colleagues to (a) analyze student achievement data, (b) create data-driven lesson plans, (c) create SMART goals to monitor student achievement, and (d) provide time for reflection of practice. The case study utilized qualitative methodology by using a teacher survey instrument adapted from the professional learning community work of DuFour and Eaker (1998), and integrated the survey results with school site achievement data. The study found that student achievement increased 20 points in adequate yearly progress (A YP) in a school considered a low performing site. Cause-and-effect relationship was not the purpose of this study and the researcher realizes the many factors that impact and influence student achievement. However, when teachers believe that weekly time set aside for collaboration within their professional learning community provides time for lesson planning and leads to improved student achievement scores, then perhaps we have discovered something of value for this one particular school. The implications of this case study are unique to the school site and may expand professional learning communities district- Professional Learning Communities ii wide to support teacher collaboration and lesson plans sharing to close the achievement gap. KEYWORDS: collaboration, leadership, professional learning communities (PLCs),