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The influence of school culture, school goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers' attitudes toward their professional development plans

Dissertation
Author: Laurie J. Sullivan
Abstract:
The Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a specific professional development model situated within the teacher evaluation system being implemented in the Owen Public Schools (pseudonym). The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of school culture, school goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers' attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. Data were also collected on teachers' perceptions of the steps of the PDP process to determine which steps had the greatest influence on teachers' attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. The sample for this study was composed of 154 prekindergarten through high school teachers within one school district. Participants held a range of attitudes from very positive to very negative toward the Professional Development Plan. Significant correlations were found between teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (TAPDP) and four out of the five factors of school culture. The factors of school culture--Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development and Unity of Purpose--were shown to be associated with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan, although the relationships were not strong. Only the school culture factor Collegial Support was found not to be associated with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. Of the five school culture factors, only the factor Professional Development was a significant predictor of teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. One aim of the research project was to discover the extent to which PDPs conducted individually and PDPs conducted collaboratively differed on teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data showed a moderate effect size that suggested the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher collaborated with other teachers on a PDP or whether it was an individual effort. Another purpose of the research was to determine the extent to which PDPs aligned with school goals and PDPs not aligned with school goals differed on teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data indicated a very large effect size and highlighted that a very large portion of the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher aligned the PDP with a school goal or whether the PDP had little or no alignment with a school goal. With regard to the steps of the PDP process, each of the four steps correlated positively with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The strength of the relationship between TAPDP and Writing a Goal Statement was moderate, while strong relationships were evident for Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching PDP Goals, Collecting Evidence of Progress on PDP and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of the PDP. Furthermore, when the steps of the PDP process were examined for their combined ability to predict TAPDP, two steps emerged as predictors. The two steps with the most influence on TAPDP were Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching PDP Goals and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of PDP. Lastly, all of the demographic variables were found to be statistically nonsignificant for describing differences in TAPDP scores suggesting that years of teaching, educator role, gender, level of educational attainment and teaching level did not influence teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page List of Tables....................................................................................................................vii List of Figures..................................................................................................................viii Abstract..............................................................................................................................ix 1. Introduction.....................................................................................................................1 Background.....................................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem................................................................................................4 Purpose............................................................................................................................9 Significance of Study....................................................................................................13 2. Review of the Literature...............................................................................................14 Overview.......................................................................................................................14 Professional Development............................................................................................15 Theoretical Framework: School Culture.......................................................................37 Teacher Evaluation Systems for Accountability and Professional Growth..................58 Teacher Professional Growth Plans..............................................................................61 The Professional Development Plan in the Owen Public Schools...............................84 3. Methods.........................................................................................................................95 Design...........................................................................................................................96 Setting and Participants................................................................................................97 Data Collection Procedures..........................................................................................98 Data Collection Instruments.......................................................................................100 Online Survey Tool to Collect Data...........................................................................113 Field Test....................................................................................................................114 Data Analysis..............................................................................................................115 Limitations..................................................................................................................122 Summary.....................................................................................................................125 4. Results.........................................................................................................................126 Descriptive Statistics for the Sample..........................................................................127 Descriptive Statistics for Instruments.........................................................................130 Descriptive Statistics for Level of PDP Alignment with School Goals, Level of PDP Collaboration, and PDP Impact on Student Learning.................................................146 Inferential Statistics....................................................................................................150 Summary of Research Findings..................................................................................170 5. Conclusion..................................................................................................................173 Summary of Main Findings........................................................................................173 Discussion...................................................................................................................176

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Implications for Practice.............................................................................................200 Recommendations for Future Research......................................................................206 Appendix A.....................................................................................................................211 Appendix B.....................................................................................................................214 Appendix C.....................................................................................................................218 Appendix D.....................................................................................................................220 Appendix E.....................................................................................................................222 Appendix F......................................................................................................................224 Appendix G.....................................................................................................................225 Appendix H.....................................................................................................................226 Appendix I......................................................................................................................228 Appendix J......................................................................................................................230 Appendix K.....................................................................................................................232 Appendix L.....................................................................................................................233 Appendix M....................................................................................................................234 Appendix N.....................................................................................................................235 References.......................................................................................................................236

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LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. Rotated Factor Matrix for TAP and TAPDP .............................................................111 2. Research Questions and the Inferential Statistics Used.............................................122 3. Sample Data by Years of Teaching Experience........................................................129 4. School Culture Survey Subscale Descriptive Data....................................................131 5. Collaborative Leadership Descriptive Statistics........................................................133 6. Teacher Collaboration Descriptive Statistics.............................................................134 7. Professional Development Descriptive Statistics......................................................135 8. Unity of Purpose Descriptive Statistics.....................................................................136 9. Collegial Support Descriptive Statistics....................................................................137 10. Teachers’ Attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan...............................140 11. PDP Process Survey Descriptive Statistics................................................................142 12. PDP Alignment with School Goals, Level of PDP Collaboration, and PDP Impact on Student Learning........................................................................................................147 13. Correlation Matrix for Factors of School Culture and Teachers’ Attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (n = 147).................................................................154 14. Summary of Multiple Regression for School Culture Variables Predicting Teachers’ Attitudes toward Professional Development Plans (n = 147)....................................156 15. Correlation Matrix for Steps of the PDP Process and Teachers’ Attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (n = 150).................................................................159 16. Summary of Stepwise Multiple Regression for Steps of the PDP Process Predicting Teachers’ Attitudes toward Professional Development Plans (n = 150)...................162 17. Demographic Variables and TAPDP.........................................................................169

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. Conceptual fra mework for researching professional development.............................25 2. Writing a goal statement/PDP question helps develop the PDP................................143 3. Describing strategies/activities for reaching PDP goals assists in successfully completing PDP.........................................................................................................144 4. Collecting evidence of progress on PDP assists in completing PDP.........................145 5. Reflecting on evidence and results of PDP impacts teacher growth professionally..146 6. PDP informed by school's goals for this year............................................................148 7. Collaborate with another educator(s) on PDP...........................................................149 8. PDP positive impact on student learning...................................................................150 9. Distribution of scores on TAPDP for the less PDP collaboration group and the more PDP collaboration group............................................................................................165 10. Distribution of scores on TAPDP for the PDP less aligned with school goals group and the PDP more aligned with school goals group..................................................168

ABSTRACT THE INFLUENCE OF SCHOOL CULTURE, SCHOOL GOALS, AND TEACHER COLLABORATION ON TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THEIR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Laurie J. Sullivan, Ph.D.

George Mason University, 2010

Dissertation Director: Dr. Gary R. Galluzzo

The Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a specific professional development model situated within the teacher evaluation system being implemented in the Owen Public Schools (pseudonym). The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of school culture, school goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers’ attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. Data were also collected on teachers’ perceptions of the steps of the PDP process to determine which steps had the greatest influence on teachers’ attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. The sample for this study was composed of 154 prekindergarten through high school teachers within one school district. Participants held a range of attitudes from very positive to very negative toward the Professional Development Plan. Significant correlations were found between teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (TAPDP) and four out of the five factors of school culture. The factors of school culture - Collaborative

ix

Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, P rofessional Development and Unity of Purpose - were shown to be associated with teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan, although the relationships were not strong. Only the school culture factor Collegial Support was found not to be associated with teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. Of the five school culture factors, only the factor Professional Development was a significant predictor of teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. One aim of the research project was to discover the extent to which PDPs conducted individually and PDPs conducted collaboratively differed on teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data showed a moderate effect size that suggested the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher collaborated with other teachers on a PDP or whether it was an individual effort. Another purpose of the research was to determine the extent to which PDPs aligned with school goals and PDPs not aligned with school goals differed on teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data indicated a very large effect size and highlighted that a very large portion of the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher aligned the PDP with a school goal or whether the PDP had little or no alignment with a school goal. With regard to the steps of the PDP process, each of the four steps correlated positively with teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The strength of the relationship between TAPDP and Writing a Goal Statement was moderate, while strong relationships were evident for Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching

x

xi PDP Goals, Collecting Evidence of Progress on PDP and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of the PDP. Furthermore, when the steps of the PDP process were examined for their combined ability to predict TAPDP, two steps emerged as predictors. The two steps with the most influence on TAPDP were Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching PDP Goals and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of PDP. Lastly, all of the demographic variables were found to be statistically nonsignificant for describing differences in TAPDP scores suggesting that years of teaching, educator role, gender, level of educational attainment and teaching level did not influence teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan.

1. Introduction The purpose of this study was to investigate several potential influences on teachers’ attitudes toward a specific professional development model, the Professional Development Plan of the Owen Public Schools (pseudonym). The Professional Development Plan (PDP) incorporates many of the characteristics that research has shown contribute to successful teacher learning including extending over a significant amount of time, connecting to teacher practice, encouraging reflection, and being situated in the workplace. Teachers may also choose to align their PDPs with their schools’ goals and conduct their PDPs collaboratively. The research project investigated the influence of school culture, school goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers’ attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. In addition, the project involved collecting data on the steps of the PDP process and determining which steps had the greatest influence on teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. Background In education reform “it must not be forgotten where th e ultimate power to change is and always has been – in the heads, hands, and hearts of the educators who work in our schools. True reform must go where the action is” (Sirotnik, 1989, p. 109). Although these words were written twenty years ago, the ideals that Sirotnik shared are pertinent in today’s education landscape and corroborated by others (Lieberman & Miller, 2001). His 1

point is direct; if we want to advance our schools, we must involve the educators who work daily with studen ts. In addition to relying on teachers to be leading agents of school change, teachers themselves must change (Cohen, 1995). As Fullan and Hargreaves (1992) noted, one of the ways teachers change is through becoming learners themselves. Teacher learning is a crucial step to meeting the expectations of what teachers need to know and do in the 21st century. As Cochran-Smith (2005) remarked in her AERA presidential address, the expectations for teacher performance in the 21st century are dramatically different from in the past. Putnam and Borko (1997) stated that much of the current practice of teaching is based on presenting and explaining content, and learning is considered the retention of facts and skills. This is a far cry from the vision of the teacher in the 21st century. The demands on what teachers should know and be able to do with regard to educating increasingly diverse groups of students have recently escalated (Bransford, Darling- Hammond, & LePage, 2005). Teachers now must understand how children learn and how to teach diverse learners, know how to make decisions about what is taught and how to teach that content, use assessment and feedback for learning as well as for evaluation, understand that learning in the classroom and beyond is culturally mediated and that students learn more effectively when teachers build upon the “funds of knowledge” that exist in their communities, and manage classrooms so that learning time is optimized and behavior problems are solved in a respectful manner (Bransford et al., 2005). Many of the standards mentioned above overlap with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The NBPTS is based on five core 2

propositions of what teachers shou ld know and be able to do: (a) Teachers are committed to students and their learning, (b) Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students, (c) Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, (d) Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and (e) Teachers are members of learning communities (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2002). The work by Bransford et al. (2005) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2002) illustrate that teaching is a complex act. Lieberman and Miller (1999) posited that movements to professionalize teaching have produced an expanded role for the teacher. In addition to the teaching standards previously mentioned, this expanded role emphasizes collaborative planning and other kinds of joint work with colleagues (Hargreaves, 2000). The aforementioned research brings to light the dynamic nature of teaching, and how it is virtually inextricable from learning. The professional teacher, to be effective, must become a career-long learner (Fullan, 1993; Wise, 1996). In fact, Sykes (1999a) referred to teaching as the learning profession. Learning leads to high quality teaching and high quality teaching is a key determinant of student learning (Fullan, 2007). With this connection between teaching and learning, awareness is growing that professional development can be a powerful pathway to teacher excellence, which is in turn crucial to student success (Neville & Robinson, 2003). As many researchers have noted, there is nothing more influential on student learning than the quality of the teacher (Bransford et al., 2005; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Hawley & Valli, 1999; Wise, 2000). 3

Statement of the Problem If the means to school improvement are skilled and qualified teachers for every child (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Barth, 2001; The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, 1996), how can we structure the education system to make this a reality? One way to improve our schools is through professional development for teachers (Borko, 2004). Professional Development In the resea rch literature the term professional development is often used interchangeably with the terms professional learning, teacher learning, professional growth, and staff development. To ease the problem of repetition these terms will be used interchangeably within this research study. Guskey (2000) defined professional development as “those processes and activities designed to enhance the professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes of educators so that they might, in turn, improve the learning of students. In some cases, it also involves learning how to redesign educational structures and cultures” (p.16). The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (1996) stated that “the goal of professional development for teachers is to increase student learning” (p. xiii). Recently a new paradigm of professional development has emerged. Slowly the tradition of the one-day off-site “one-size fits all” training is being replaced by professional development that takes place over a long duration of time (Garet et al., 2001), incorporates research on what is known about how people learn (Bransford, 4

Brown, & Cocking, 2000), and is situated with in the teacher’s workplace, the school (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006). The 2009 report, Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad (Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009) asserted that although research is growing on the characteristics of effective professional development, many teachers are not experiencing high quality professional development. The report stated, “Effective professional development is intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice; focuses on the teaching and learning of specific academic content; is connected to other school initiatives; and builds strong working relationships among teachers” (p. 5). If a professional teacher is expected to be a career-long learner to be effective with students (Fullan, 1993; Wise, 1996), then schools must be places where teachers engage in effective ongoing professional learning. Barth (2001) shared: I believe that schools can become much more than places where there are big people who are learned and little people who are learners. They can become cultures where youngsters are discovering the job, the difficulty, and the excitement of learning and where adults are continually rediscovering the joy, the difficulty, and the excitement of learning. Places where we are all in it together – learning by heart. (p. 29) School Culture Teacher learning within the school not only can change teach er practice, but can change the school culture as well (Lieberman, 1995). School culture is a complex pattern 5

of “norm s, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, values, ceremonies, traditions, and myths that are deeply ingrained in the very core of the organization” (Barth, 2002, p. 7). Culture affects how people think, feel, and act (Peterson & Deal, 2002) and has been shown to play an important role in the professional growth of educators (Peterson, 2002). As Bruner (1996) argued, culture shapes mind. Learning and thinking are always situated in a cultural setting. An interesting aspect of researching culture is the reciprocal effects. The school culture affects teachers’ beliefs, cognitions, and behaviors and teachers’ beliefs, cognitions, and behaviors influence the school culture (Rosenholtz, 1991). One type of school culture that has been shown to have a positive impact on schools is a collaborative school culture (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Barth, 2006; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1992; Fullan, 1990; Little, 1982; Rosenholtz, 1991; Saphier & King, 1985). Gruenert (2005) wrote, “Collaborative school cultures – schools where teacher development is facilitated through mutual support, joint work, and broad agreement on educational values (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Little, 1990) – have been presented as the best setting for learning for both teachers and students” (p. 43). Gruenert (1998) considered the following factors to comprise a collaborative school culture: Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Unity of Purpose, Collegial Support, and Learning Partnership. These collaborative school culture factors can be described as the following:  Collaborative Leadership describes the degree to which school leaders establish and maintain collaborative relationships with school staff. The leaders value teachers’ ideas, seek their input, engage them in decision- 6

making, and trust their professional judgm ent. Leaders support and reward risk-taking, innovation, and sharing of ideas and practices.  Teacher Collaboration describes the degree to which teachers engage in constructive dialogue that furthers the educational vision of the school. Teachers across the school plan together, observe and discuss teaching practices, evaluate programs, and develop an awareness of the practices and programs of other teachers.  Professional Development describes the degree to which teachers value continuous personal development and school-wide improvement. Teachers seek ideas from seminars, colleagues, organizations, and other professional sources to maintain current knowledge, particularly current knowledge about instructional practices.  Unity of Purpose describes the degree to which teachers work toward a common mission for the school. Teachers understand, support, and perform in accordance with that mission.  Collegial Support describes the degree to which teachers work together effectively. Teachers trust each other, value each other's ideas, and assist each other as they work to accomplish the tasks of the school organization.  Learning Partnership describes the degree to which teachers, parents, and students work together for the common good of the student. Parents and teachers share common expectations and communicate frequently about 7

student perform ance. Parents trust teachers. Students generally accept responsibility for their schooling. (Gruenert, 1998, pp. 89-90) The culture of a school can also create roadblocks to professional development. In some schools, professional development is not valued and teachers do not believe they have anything new to learn (Peterson, 2002). Leithwood (1992) reported that many school cultures are characterized by informal norms of isolation and stifle teacher growth. School cultures are often resistant to change and isolated teachers usually continue to do what they have always done (Leithwood). In addition, each school has an ambience (or culture) of its own (Goodlad, 1984), and this culture dictates its collective personality (Gruenert, 2008; Schein, 2004). The school personality can work for or against school improvement efforts (Barth, 2002), such as teacher professional development. Hence, the culture of the school affects the way professional learning opportunities are viewed (Peterson & Deal, 2002; Wagner & Masden-Copas, 2002). Teacher Attitudes The culture of the school is a powerf ul influence on teachers’ attitudes (Boyd, 1992). Reciprocally, teachers’ attitudes influence the norms of the school culture and the way we do things around here. The concept of attitude includes ways of feeling, thinking and behaving (Holfve-Sabel, 2006). Myers (2008) defined attitude as “a favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward something or someone (often rooted in one’s beliefs, and exhibited in one’s feelings and intended behavior)” (p. 120). 8

Teacher attitudes can have a strong effect on teachers’ pr actice. Teachers with positive attitudes towards an instructional practice will use it more frequently in their classroom (Donerlson, 2008; Wilkins, 2008). Although there is much debate among researchers regarding the attitude-behavior relation, most agree that other variables such as the qualities of the person and the situation can influence the extent to which attitudes guide behavior (Fazio & Petty, 2008). Ajzen and Fishbein (1977) have shown that people’s actions are related to their attitudes when focused on a specific object, rather than a general overarching concept. Because attitudes influence behavior, knowing something about them can help us to predict people’s overt actions in a wide range of contexts (Baron, Branscombe, & Byrne, 2008). Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate s everal potential influences on teachers’ attitudes toward a specific professional development model, the Professional Development Plan of the Owen Public Schools. The Professional Development Plan infuses many of the characteristics recommended in the section above describing effective professional development including sustained over a long duration of time, situated in the teacher’s workplace, and adult learner-centered. The Professional Development Plan Owen Public Schools, an inner-ring suburban school district outside a ma jor mid- Atlantic city, began full implementation of the Professional Development Plan during the 1999-2000 school year. The Professional Development Plan is one component of the 9

school district’s teacher evaluation system . The evaluation system has four main components:  Performance Evaluation Plan for probationary teachers  Professional Development Plan (PDP) for non-probationary, successful (not on a Formal Improvement Plan), tenured, continuing contract teachers  Analysis of Professional Practice (APP) for successful non-probationary teachers, which begins in Year 6 of Owen service and is repeated every fourth year  Formal Improvement Plan for non-probationary teachers who need additional support The PDP is based on the assumption that professional learning is continuous and it is a part of every teacher’s responsibility to engage in professional development (Owen Public Schools, 2008; Danielson, 2008). The PDP process begins with a teacher or group of teachers developing a learning goal in collaboration with their administrator. Goals are selected from one or more of the following categories:  Teacher Goals – directly related to delivery of instruction  Student Goals – related to desired learner outcomes  Program Goals – related to the District Strategic Plan, the School Management Plan, curriculum development, and committee involvement  Professional Responsibilities Goals – related to improving self, school, and district. 10

After a goal is selected, teachers incorporate the g oal into a question to guide their learning for the year. For example, one teacher’s PDP question may be, “How does explicit instruction in decoding improve student reading skills in decoding, comprehension, and fluency?” Over the course of the school year, the teacher (or a group of teachers) engages in activities related to their individualized PDP focus. Opportunities for active learning include analyzing student work, planning lessons incorporating new strategies, reflecting on a lesson that was taught, writing, and discussing an educational book. Throughout the year teachers collect evidence in support of their PDP focus. Evidence may include portfolios, personal journals, test results, assessments, curricular units, and contributions to professional journals and other publications. At the end of the year teachers reflect on the evidence, write a summary, and talk with their administrator about the quality and outcomes of the professional growth experience. In addition to such collegial conversations and sharing evidence with the administrator, each teacher has the option to share the PDP at the district Professional Learning Fair held every May. Overall, the steps in the PDP process involve (a) writing a goal statement and PDP question, (b) describing the strategies and activities for reaching the PDP goal, (c) collecting evidence of progress toward the PDP goal, and (d) reflecting on the evidence and results of the PDP. Although the PDP has been in place since the 1999-2000 school year, there has been little investigation into teachers’ attitudes toward it as a mechanism for professional growth, nor into the influences that school culture, collaborative inquiry, and alignment with school goals might exert on teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP. 11

The specific purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of school culture, scho ol goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers’ attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. In addition, this research project involved collecting data on the various steps of the PDP process and determining which steps had the greatest influence on teachers’ attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The study was guided by the following research questions: 1. To what extent do the factors of school culture (Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Unity of Purpose, Collegial Support) correlate with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (PDP)? 2. Do the factors of school culture (Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Unity of Purpose, Collegial Support) predict teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP? 3. To what extent do the steps of the PDP process correlate with teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP? 4. Do the steps of the PDP process predict teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP? 5. To what extent do PDPs conducted individually and PDPs conducted collaboratively differ on teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP? 6. To what extent do PDPs aligned with school goals and PDPs not aligned with school goals differ on teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP? 12

7. Do teachers’ attitudes toward the PDP differ for their years of teaching, educator role (classroom, specialist), gender, level of education (B.A., Masters, Ph.D.) and teaching level (Elementary, Secondary)? Significance of Study In any reform, cultural support is cruc ial for a change to be successful (Deal & Peterson, 1999; Joyce, 1990). This study serves as a link in the chain of research on the influence of school culture on teacher professional growth within a teacher evaluation system. It also corroborates the research on the importance of reflection for teacher learning. The study addresses a gap in the research as there is a distinct deficit of research on collaborative Professional Development Plans within an appraisal system. This study provides practical significance for the Owen Public Schools and for other districts considering implementation of the Professional Development Plan. School leaders may be persuaded to cultivate a school culture that values the Professional Development Plan as a vehicle to enhance teacher learning and encourage teachers to work collaboratively on PDPs to advance the goals of the school so that ultimately student learning soars. 13

Full document contains 274 pages
Abstract: The Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a specific professional development model situated within the teacher evaluation system being implemented in the Owen Public Schools (pseudonym). The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of school culture, school goals, and teacher collaboration on teachers' attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. Data were also collected on teachers' perceptions of the steps of the PDP process to determine which steps had the greatest influence on teachers' attitudes toward their Professional Development Plans. The sample for this study was composed of 154 prekindergarten through high school teachers within one school district. Participants held a range of attitudes from very positive to very negative toward the Professional Development Plan. Significant correlations were found between teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan (TAPDP) and four out of the five factors of school culture. The factors of school culture--Collaborative Leadership, Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development and Unity of Purpose--were shown to be associated with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan, although the relationships were not strong. Only the school culture factor Collegial Support was found not to be associated with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. Of the five school culture factors, only the factor Professional Development was a significant predictor of teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. One aim of the research project was to discover the extent to which PDPs conducted individually and PDPs conducted collaboratively differed on teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data showed a moderate effect size that suggested the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher collaborated with other teachers on a PDP or whether it was an individual effort. Another purpose of the research was to determine the extent to which PDPs aligned with school goals and PDPs not aligned with school goals differed on teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The data indicated a very large effect size and highlighted that a very large portion of the variance in TAPDP scores was accounted for by whether a teacher aligned the PDP with a school goal or whether the PDP had little or no alignment with a school goal. With regard to the steps of the PDP process, each of the four steps correlated positively with teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan. The strength of the relationship between TAPDP and Writing a Goal Statement was moderate, while strong relationships were evident for Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching PDP Goals, Collecting Evidence of Progress on PDP and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of the PDP. Furthermore, when the steps of the PDP process were examined for their combined ability to predict TAPDP, two steps emerged as predictors. The two steps with the most influence on TAPDP were Describing Strategies/Activities for Reaching PDP Goals and Reflecting on Evidence and Results of PDP. Lastly, all of the demographic variables were found to be statistically nonsignificant for describing differences in TAPDP scores suggesting that years of teaching, educator role, gender, level of educational attainment and teaching level did not influence teachers' attitudes toward the Professional Development Plan.