Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Lynn Stallings

Committee Chair

Dr. Julie Moore

Second Committee Member

Dr. Ann Bennett


The increased professional demands on educators without parallel increases in funding encourage schools to continually search for practical solutions to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to improve their instructional effectiveness. This qualitative research study explored this issue by examining how participation in a data-focused professional learning community (PLC) affected teacher practice and perceptions along with determining how data-focused PLCs contributed to student learning outcomes. The study participants were a team of mathematics teachers from a public middle school in the southeastern United States serving grades sixth through eighth. The findings from this study were summarized through three themes that also provided responses to the research questions used to frame this study. The results affirmed that collaboration as a member of a PLC attributed to changes in teacher practice such as enhancements to participant instructional delivery and professional knowledge. In turn, improved teacher effectiveness also benefited students as evidenced by student performance on a variety of indicators. These findings contributed to the body of literature by other researchers (e.g., Little, 1982; McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993) who concluded that participation in a PLC with a defined collaborative structure provided teachers with job-embedded contexts to enhance their classroom practices. Likewise, due to the process of data-focused PLCs relying heavily on teachers learning through collaborative inquiry and using data to inform their decisions rather than assumptions, schools that embrace this structure provide an opportunity for high-quality instructional practices to be nurtured and sustained while supporting continuous growth in teaching and learning.