Relationships among perceptions of professional learning communities, school academic optimism, and student achievement in Alabama middle and high schools
The purpose of this study was to examine relationships among perceptions of professional learning communities, school academic optimism, and student achievement in Alabama middle and high schools. Quantitative data were collected through online surveys and hard copy surveys during the spring of 2012. The study was driven by research questions involving the relationship between teachers' and principals' perceptions that their school is a learning community and the level of academic optimism in those schools; the relationship between teachers' and principals' perceptions their school is a learning community and the level of student achievement; the comparison of school levels with teachers' and principals' perceptions; and the joint contribution of the perceptions of professional learning communities (PLCs) and academic optimism on student achievement. Two surveys were used: the School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ) and the School Academic Optimism Survey (SAOS), measuring participants' perceptions of their schools as learning communities and participants' perceptions of the level of academic optimism at their schools, respectively. Seven hundred three teachers and administrators from 59 schools across the state of Alabama were surveyed. Data were compared using correlations, t-tests, and regression analyses. Results confirmed findings from prior research regarding the relationship between academic optimism and student achievement. In addition, evidence showed that there is a positive, significant correlation between the perceptions of PLCs and academic optimism. Results of this study give school leaders tools with which to address the factors that lead to improved teacher efficacy and academic emphasis and thus increased student achievement.