Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Kit Kacirek

Committee Member

Kenda Grover

Second Committee Member

Michael Miller


K-12 public education, School improvement initiatives, Instructional leaders, Leaders of change, Adaptive change skills


Persistent low levels of student achievement is a concern that has been the focus of many school improvement initiatives. Research has demonstrated that Professional Learning Communities are an initiative that leads to improved academic outcomes. Additionally, research has demonstrated the importance of effective leadership for a change initiative to be successful.

Using the conceptual framework of adaptive leadership as applied to implement a school improvement initiative, this study was conducted to understand how instructional leaders perceive their leadership changed as a result of implementing professional learning communities in their school. The participants were instructional leaders who led schools participating in cohort one of the Arkansas Department of Education Professional Learning Communities Project.

The results indicated that when professional learning communities are only partially implemented, the components implemented are typically technical or structural and do not result in positive academic outcomes for students. The culture of the school must be developed and nurtured for successful implementation. The participants’ necessity to develop a shared leadership style was seen as an essential personal change. Participants also reported an increased understanding of how their behavior impacts the culture of the school. Instructional leaders will continue to be tasked with leading school improvement initiatives. This responsibility highlights the conclusion that successful implementation will require them to be open to learning how to implement adaptive change and, more importantly, recognize when the situation calls for them to utilize adaptive change skills.