By Jaclyn Scotto Siano
One of the major goals of any school is student achievement. But did you know that Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) can contribute to increased student success? In our last blog, we discussed how PLCs can be used as a method for improving teaching and pedagogy; today, let’s focus on some strategies that can be used in PLCs to improve student achievement.
Reviewing Student Work and Using Data Analysis
Having a set, recurring PLC time provides teachers with a place to review student work. One way this can be particularly helpful is when teachers are encouraged to bring graded performance-based assessments to their PLCs. Using the rubrics, teachers can focus on areas of strength and weakness for individual students. From there, individual support plans can be created to provide extra help in struggling areas. For example, if a particular student scored low on the grading rubric section for using MLA citations correctly, the teacher could provide the student with extra practice on this topic.
Similarly, teachers can work together during PLC time to analyze data from traditional assessments, like multiple choice tests. Reviewing graded tests as a group provides the teacher with objective feedback on both student scores and the test itself. In regards to student achievement, data analysis can assist the teacher in locating problem areas/topics. If many students perform poorly on the same question(s), then the teacher can consider re-teaching that topic for clarity.
PLCs provide educators with a venue for sharing best practices. In PLCs where the teachers share the same students, it provides an opportunity for discussing strategies on dealing with certain students. For example, one teacher may have found a helpful website to use with a struggling non-native English speaking student.
In all PLCs, educators can use that time to “bounce” ideas off each other. One teacher may have taught a very successful lesson or assigned a great project; he or she can share that with the group so that it may be adapted for other classes. When teachers share their victories, their peers can benefit and so can the students.
Multiple research studies show a direct link between teachers who are involved in PLCs and increased student achievement (Vescio et al., 2008). In its most effective form, a PLC should be utilized for all of the activities listed above. When teachers find new and more efficient ways to teach their students, students are more likely to succeed. We learn more when we learn together!
Vescio, V., Ross, D., and Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 80-91.