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The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of Whole Faculty Study Groups on student achievement and teacher practices in grades K-3 of a Nebraska school district. Whole-Faculty Study Groups (WFSG) are a type of professional learning community (PLC).
Using a mixed method approach, both K-3 student scores on Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and responses from surveys and interviews of K-3 teachers, principals, and district administrators were analyzed. Using the McNemar test of dependent proportions, DIBELS scores from kindergarten and first grade were compared with established benchmarks from the fall (or winter) to spring assessments to determine improvement in reading fluency skills. Using a two-way mixed factorial ANOVA, DIBELS scores from two groups of second and third grade students were compared with each other. The two groups of students were determined by the focus (fluency or not fluency) of their teachers in WFSG. All student scores showed significant improvement from the first testing to the second testing with the exception of one assessment for third graders. There was no significant difference in scores between WFSG focusing on fluency and those groups not focusing on fluency.
All grades K-3 teachers were surveyed and the results were analyzed. Two district administrators were interviewed. The perception of teachers and administrators was that the WFSG did change teacher practices, but educators were reluctant to attribute increased learning of students to WFSG alone. WFSG, through the use of collaboration and implementing new curriculum and teaching strategies, evolved into an important element of the district’s school improvement process.
Advisor: Donald F. Uerling