Implementing a district -wide school reform| Professional learning communities
Author(s)Montgomery, Dawn A.
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Abstract<p>Public school districts across the nation face pressures to make the necessary changes required to improve and sustain achievement for all students. Individual case studies highlight the turnaround of low-performing schools and districts, and identify two common problems: teachers lack the knowledge and skills to help all students achieve at higher levels; and district and school leaders lack the knowledge and skills to facilitate school reform that improves student achievement. When districts attempt to implement too much at once, their efforts are fragmented and disconnected to system realities, or their implementation is inconsistent across the schools. The review of the literature reveals decades of research on effective professional development and successful reform practices in schools and districts using a systems approach. Research includes the collaborative work of teachers analyzing student data and assessments, comparing actual performance to the goals and standards for student learning, and using effective instructional strategies. This study examines the early implementation of professional learning communities in a large suburban school district and the reform components in place to develop and support the teams. It includes an analysis of the district's collective vision, leadership, accountability system, and continuous support for learning. To determine the level of success of the implementation after the initial 2 years, teachers and principals in the district were surveyed and the results were analyzed by the author. The findings from 120 teachers and 29 principals reveal the activities that contributed to their successes and struggles. The author discusses the challenges and the ongoing support and practices necessary to successfully implement professional learning communities in a large school district. </p>