Professional Learning Community Assessment–District Support (PLCA-DS)

The PLCA-DS follows the success of an earlier assessment, the Professional Learning Community Assessment-Revised (PLCA-R) (Olivier, Hipp, & Huffman, 2010) designed to assess everyday classroom and school-level practices in relation to the PLC dimensions. While the PLCA-R has assisted educators and researchers in determining the strength of practices in their own schools within each dimension, the PLCA-DS offers an opportunity to assess the level of support provided by the system to sustain the PLC process and success in schools.

The Professional Learning Community Assessment-District Support (PLCA-DS) (Olivier, Huffman, & Cowan, 2015) measures perceptions about school district’s support for the development and implementation of PLCs in schools. This assessment contains 67 items describing actions districts leaders take to support schools in the PLC infrastructure. Respondents rate these items along a six-point scale.

The assessment has been administered to professional staff throughout school districts to determine the strength of practices from district level personnel impacting and supporting PLCs in schools.

While the assessment was created using the original PLC framework of five dimensions, the findings from the PLCA-DS resulted in a reorganization of the dimensions. Two of the initial five dimensions remained statistically intact (Shared and Supportive Leadership, Shared Values and Vision).  Supportive Conditions divided into two separate dimensions: Structures and Relationships. Two of the original dimensions (Collective Learning and Application, and Shared Personal Practice) merged into one descriptive dimension: Collective Learning and Application of Practice .

Sample items from the survey give the potential user a sense of items in the PLCA-DS.

Please contact Dr. Dianne F. Olivier at [email protected] for permission to use the PLCA-DS.

PLCA-DS Validity and Reliability

The statistical processes determined the Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficients for factored subscales at a very high reliability level.

Shared and Supportive Leadership (.98);

Shared Values and Vision (.93);

Collective Learning and Application of Practice (.98);

Supportive Conditions – Relationships (.97);

Supportive Conditions -Structures (.93);

Total PLCA-DS Reliability (.96)

This assessment has also gone through construct validity (expert opinion and factor analysis) and has yielded a very high internal consistency for reliability.

How to Use the Results

When analyzing PLCA-DS results, descriptive statistics are beneficial in determining the strength of the dimensions, as well as reviewing responses for each individual item. Given that PLCA-DS items illustrate actual district-level practices, analysis of the measure should incorporate a review of individual items to determine the strengths and weaknesses of practices deemed essential for district level administrators as they support the development of PLC schools. From this analysis the district and school leaders can determine next steps.

PLCA-DS Interpretation Steps

  • View attributes (item statements) first individually – determine the highest and lowest scores;
  • Next, focus on the Dimension sections; determine those dimensions which have a majority of high or low scoring attributes;
  • Focus on the overall results at the Dimension levels to determine if there is a pattern of high or low scores;
  • Scores of 5.0 or higher show general agreement with the attribute;
  • Refer to the calculated Standard Deviation (SD) in order to account for the outliers (variance within the group);
  • A smaller SD indicates greater agreement, while a larger SD shows more variance among respondents (less agreement);
  • You may have an outlier or two, but still have an overall strong level of support for the dimension.
  • Use these scores to determine next steps for district leaders to support the development of schools as PLCs

Next Steps

Using the PLCA-DS requires permission from PLC Associates. The following steps guide users in selecting the PLCA-DS version (hard copy or online), obtaining permission, and accessing the PLCA-DS.

  1. Select the appropriate PLCA-DS version. PLC Associates has developed three versions of the PLCA-DS: an online version, an alternate online version using a different platform, and a paper and pencil version.

Online administration provides data analyses of the PLC five dimensions related to whole school, teams, departments, and individuals related to PLC practices. The online version offers a host server for online administration, data analyses, customized demographics, and open-ended questions. Data are automatically graphed, and a mean and standard deviation are calculated for each dimension for the group, individual, or subgroup report being viewed.

You can watch a walkthrough video and view some screenshots of the different parts of the PLCA-R site at:

While the video features only the PLCA-R, the PLCA-DS follows very similar procedures, and the user can apply the same steps to the PLCA-DS.

In addition, sample items can be found at

The cost for online administration is $2.00/survey respondent.

Paper and pencil administration allows the user to administer a PDF version of the survey using hard copies or by placing it into an alternate online platform. However, unlike the online version provided by PLC Associates (described above), an alternate online platform will require users to tabulate and analyze their own results. The cost of using this alternate version varies according to the number of schools surveyed: one school-$50; two or more schools-$100. This version will require users to tabulate and analyze results.

2. Complete the Request Form.

3. Submit the PLCA-DS Request Form to [email protected]

Students should contact Dr. Dianne F. Olivier at [email protected] for permission to use the PLCA-DS for correlation with other surveys. Students requiring correlation of the PLCA-DS  with other surveys may pay the $50.00 flat fee.


The PLCA-DS offers information as to perceptions of district and school leaders and staff regarding district support for PLC development in schools. A formal tool such as this provides valid and reliable data to focus decisions related to the most critical needs of the schools, as well as actions district leaders can take to address these needs. Following up with informal tools, strategies, and practices can be designed to further develop the PLC framework in schools. To learn more about informal tools, refer to  Informal Diagnostic and Planning Tools located under the Assessments and Tools tab.