Hunt, Marianne
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The purpose of this mixed-method case study is to determine the effect that a grade-wide literacy intervention program implemented through a professional learning community (PLC) has on the motivation, literacy identity, and performance of a cohort of sixth-grade students at a middle school in Norwalk, California. In this study, team of sixth-grade teachers who had adopted the principles of DuFour and Fullan (2013) as well as Fullan and Quinn (2015) sought to create a PLC that could lead to positive change in school culture and literacy rates across the curriculum. The study was guided by the following questions: What does a grade-wide literacy focused PLC intervention to support sixth-grade students’ literacy look like at the systemic level? What is the impact of a literacy-focused PLC project on grade-wide reading comprehension, students’ literacy practices, and students’ confidence as readers? How does this PLC effort change the school system and its leaders’ and students’ buy-in? The researcher analyzed pre and post student and staff surveys as well as meeting agendas, notes, and correspondences to describe the process of implementing a cohesive grade-level PLC and determine the impact that it had on literacy practices and the culture of the school. Ethnographic notes revealed that the teachers made a collective decision to focus on literacy across the curriculum. They collaborated regularly and used data to inform their decisions and the course of their intervention. The researcher compared pre and post i-Ready scores to measure growth in reading comprehension. At the beginning of the year, 103 students were reading below the fourth-grade level (based on i-Ready scores). At the end of the year, there was a significant decrease of 18.4% to 84 students. Surveys and reflections revealed that the project had a positive impact on relationships between teachers and students as students reported feeling supported and cared for by their teachers. There was an increase in the students’ positive literacy practices and their confidence as readers. The effort had an effect on the wider school culture as other grade-level teams agreed to adopt some of the practices of the sixth-grade team.