Professional learning communities that center on students, use data effectively, distribute expertise, and enjoy district-level leadership and investment are proving to have a powerful impact on school culture, instructional quality, and student outcomes.
Professional learning communities (PLCs) have gained increasing attention from researchers over the last twenty years or so and have been present in schools for even longer. While in the past, they were often seen as a “boutique” exercise rather than part of a larger reform, PLCs are gaining increasing traction and notice in various settings and in a number of school districts as a way of improving teaching quality and student achievement. Milbrey McLaughlin and Joan Talbert have been studying professional learning communities together and separately for many years. Their most recent joint book on the subject is Building School-Based Teacher Learning Communities (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006). They spoke with VUE guest editor Marla Ucelli-Kashyap about the evolution of and evidence about PLCs.