Date of Award

Fall 10-30-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David B. Reid, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Debra Lane, Ed. D.


professional learning community, principal leadership, distributive leadership, Title I school, learning, collaboration, shared leadership, supportive leadership, shared vision, supportive relationships


The quest to seek effective school improvement initiatives has been an ongoing challenge for schools across the country. As we continue on this search to find strategies to promote high-quality education and improve teaching and learning for all, school leaders are implementing creative approaches to enhance collaboration, learning, and results. This study examined the influence of principal leadership behaviors on the development of professional learning communities (PLC) in Title I and non-Title I schools. The study uncovered specific leadership practices and PLC structures that positively affect the development and sustainability of professional learning communities in two schools within Alexandria City Public Schools. Principals and teachers from two schools participated in the study through interviews and observations of the PLCs. Interview transcripts, observation notes, and school-related documents were analyzed and synthesized to make meaning of the lived experiences of the participants of the professional learning community, understand leadership practices that influence the development of PLCs, and uncover the impact of PLCs’ development when there are voluntary and non-voluntary mandates.

The results from the study revealed that the principal leadership behaviors have a strong influence on the development of professional learning communities. Additionally, the results from the study indicated that the principals demonstrating distributive leadership practices have a strong presence in developing PLCs. The findings also presented that shared and supportive leadership, shared vision and values, and supportive conditions have a strong presence when initially developing PLCs within an organizational structure. The results from this study will advise school principals of the leadership practices and the five dimensions of PLC (Hord, 2004a) associated with effective professional learning communities. This study can be used to guide professional development for school leaders relative to the specific structures, guiding principles, dimensions, or leadership practices that help develop and sustain a collaborative learning culture of professional learning communities in schools.