An independent evaluation of Arkansas’ Professional Learning Communities at Work (PLC at Work) project determined that the program has positively impacted student achievement on the ACT Aspire assessment.
Education Northwest, a third-party research firm that conducts external evaluations of programs to determine their effectiveness, evaluated Arkansas’ PLC at Work® model. After only two years of data, the firm found that Arkansas’ program positively impacted students’ math ACT Aspire scores, as well as the math scores among specific student subgroups. Arkansas’ efforts also resulted in student math achievement gains that exceeded those attributed to other professional learning programs. This evaluation of professional learning was designed to be eligible to meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards with reservations and establish ESSA Tier II evidence.
“The Education Northwest report confirms what we have known the last couple of years: When a culture of collaboration is created that is entirely student-focused, then student achievement increases,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “When we were introduced to the PLC at Work model a few years ago, we knew it was critical to success here in Arkansas. This report not only validates educators’ hard work in changing the culture at their school, it also confirms that students are responding to these efforts, resulting in enhanced learning. We are extremely pleased with these results, and I’m excited to see future successes from the program.”
Education Northwest started the three-year study with the first cohort of Arkansas’ PLC at Work project (which includes nine schools and one district). The firm intended to complete the study after the 2020 state assessment; however, COVID suspended testing this spring. The study will conclude in 2021 after state assessment results are administered.
As part of the state’s commitment to continuous improvement in student achievement, the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered with Solution Tree to launch the Professional Learning Communities at Work (PLC at Work®) project in the 2017–18 school year. The nine schools and one district included in the evaluation received on-site support and professional development to build and sustain a strong culture of collaboration focused on enhancing student learning. This study found that within two years, the model had positive impacts on math achievement test scores and no effects on ELA achievement test scores.
This study describes how one cohort of Arkansas educators implemented the PLC at Work process with fidelity after three years with substantial support from school leaders and Solution Tree associates. It found that educators reported positive changes in instructional practice, culture of collaboration, and collective responsibility for ensuring all students learn at high levels.