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In Raising the bar and closing the gap (DuFour, 2010), what evidence of the effectiveness Professional Learning Communities ideas can be seen?  If you see no evidence, where might a school begin? 


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In Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Whatever it Takes, the authors argue that professional learning communities (PLCs) can be instrumental in a school's attempts to reach all of its students.  Evidence of this lies in the way leadership teams work with teachers and how time is managed in the course of a day.

DuFour and his team display different examples of evidence of PLC effectiveness in the desire to raise student achievement.  One such instance is seen in chapter three in the discussion of the "educational lottery."  When attempts to reach all of a school's students are not institutionally embedded,   school-wide success decreases.  The authors argue that a PLC is instrumental to student achievement. When initiatives are not widely embraced, then students are subject to the whims of individual teachers.  Some teachers might be practicing techniques and strategies that work. Others might not.  This makes students subject to an "educational lottery" approach, where if they luck into a successful setting, their needs are met.  DuFour and his team's work suggest that the PLC is a vital part in establishing that initiatives meant to help all students should be an ingrained part of the institutional framework in our schools.  When the PLC does this, all students have a greater chance of experiencing student achievement because the PLC is a school-wide approach to speak to all children.

PLC effectiveness is also seen in how time is used in the course of the day. For example, in chapter five, the story of Boones Mill school illustrates how PLCs can assist in creating space in the day to assist academically struggling students.  The PLC helped to establish a portion of a day when students received the intensive instruction they needed.  Teachers were able to offer support because time was created in the course of the day.  This was more advantageous than initiatives offered outside of the school day because it utilized the time that students were already in school.  In this setting, teachers were able to devise individualized approaches to help students.  The PLC was instrumental in utilizing what was already in place, in terms of time, to make a more meaningful experience for the students.

Another similar example of how the PLC helped to use time more effectively was evident in the creation of professional space for teachers.  In chapter 7, the narrative of Lakeridge Junior High School illustrates how a PLC can help support professional learning and articulation.  Teachers found that their weekly scheduled was altered so that they could have more time to communicate with one another.  The creation of this professional space helped to spawn student achievement because teachers could share ideas and had time during the week to embrace authentic collaboration.  Just as with the students at Boones Mill, utilizing time during the school day in a more effective manner illustrated the effectiveness of PLCs in increasing student achievement.

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