Dimensions and Critical Attributes

Each of the five dimensions include specific practices we term the critical attributes. Through our school visits and observations of teachers and students, and confirmed by our research, we have identified these important practices that exist in professional learning community schools.

Shared and Supportive Leadership

  • Nurturing leadership among staff
  • Shared power, authority, and responsibility
  • Broad-based decision making that reflects commitment and accountability

Shared Values and Vision

  • Espoused values and norms
  • Focus on student learning
  • High expectations
  • Shared vision guides teaching and learning

Collective Learning and Application

  • Sharing information
  • Seeking new knowledge, skills and strategies
  • Working collaboratively to plan, solve¬† problems, and improve learning opportunities

Shared Personal Practice

  • Peer observations to offer knowledge, skills, and encouragement
  • Feedback to improve instructional practices
  • Sharing outcomes of instructional practices
  • Coaching and mentoring

Supportive Conditions (Structures)

  • Resources (time, money, materials, people)
  • Facilities
  • Communication systems

Supportive Conditions (Relationships)

  • Caring relationships
  • Trust and respect
  • Recognition and celebration
  • Risk-taking
  • Unified effort to embed change


In addition, our formal and informal assessments measure these dimensions and critical attributes. Thus, by administering the Professional Learning Community Assessment РRevised (PLCA-R) it is possible to establish a baseline of PLC practices within the school. Next, professional development is designed based on the results of the PLCA-R.  It is important that this professional development occurs over time and support is provided as needed. Next, the PLCA-R can be administered again to determine the changes of PLC practices within the school.

It is important to note that there are various phases of development and change throughout this PLC effort. The three phases are: initiating, implementing, and sustaining. Please refer to the Professional Learning Community Organizer (PLCO) and the Professional Learning Community Developmental Rubric (PLCDR) for more information and examples of practices for each phase.