Book Review: Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap


In preparation for our upcoming conversation with Rick and Becky DuFour on the steps that schools can take to develop effective systems of intervention that reach beyond the classroom, I just finished reading their newest book, Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap. Here’s my review... Read more

Another Digital Conversation With the DuFours Starts May 19


Having worked in a professional learning community for almost six years now, I can tell you that nothing is more challenging for traditional schools than crafting a schoolwide system of . . . Read more

A PLC Approach to Merit Pay


The Race to the Top guidelines have sparked renewed interest in the topic of merit pay for teachers. In earlier blogs we outlined why we oppose the idea of merit pay for individual teachers because the concept is based on faulty assumptions and there is abundant evidence… Read more

What About the Whole Child?

Here is a question we often hear at our institutes: “All of this attention to academic achievement is a case of misplaced priorities. We need to address the needs of the whole child. What about the emotional needs of our children? What about… Read more

Neglecting the Gifted and Talented

Doesn’t PLC give attention to struggling students and emphasis on intervention result in neglecting gifted and high-achieving children? Educators who ask this question believe that focusing attention on needy, lazy, or low-performing kids… Read more



We received a question from a social studies department regarding leveling, or tracking. The school had taken steps to eliminate remedial courses, and in the first year of implementation, the department was questioning the loss of remedial social studies classes. Some members expressed… Read more

Do PLCs Enable Students to Act Irresponsibly by Asking Educators to Assume Greater Responsibility for Learning?


Those familiar with our work know that we contend schools committed to helping all students learn provide students who are not being successful with additional time and support for learning in a way that is timely, directive, and systematic. This proposal is sometimes met with skepticism by… Read more

The Schedule Won’t Let Us Devote Time to Intervention


The most effective school systems in the world ensure that all of their schools have a process in place to monitor each student’s learning on an ongoing basis and a systematic plan of intervention that provides… Read more

Addressing Differences


In my previous blog, Two Different "Schools" of Thought, I reported that one of my fans has made it quite clear that his perspective on the purpose of schooling, the responsibilities of educators, and the indicators of a quality school are very different than those I espouse. How might we explore… Read more

Two Different "Schools" of Thought


The most frequent question we hear at our PLC workshops and institutes is, "How should we respond to skeptical colleagues who resist any effort to implement the PLC concept?" The answer we provide is… Read more

Where Will You Put Your Energy?


I received an email from a teacher opposed to engaging in the PLC process at her school. She took the position that the concept represents an experiment and that she should not have to participate in experiments. Her rational is, "How do we know that this process works better than… Read more

Which Quartile Should We Focus On?


We received a question from a high school administrator who asked which group of students the school should focus on in order to improve the school's achievement on the high-stakes tests administered by the state. He wrote, "We have received conflicting information about… Read more

The Need for Crucial Conversations


Becky and I recently participated in a VoiceThread hosted by our talented colleague Bill Ferriter. Educators from around the country asked questions and shared their experiences with implementing the PLC concept (you can hear the conversation here). One of the most frequently… Read more

It's Not a Meeting; It's a Way of Being!


I want to share the temporary soap box that I got on last week when addressing a group of teachers and administrators about the term professional learning community. If we continue to use the term PLC in the way that it is being used in many quarters, then it truly has lost… Read more

Does Merit Pay for Individual Teachers Align With the PLC Concept? Part I


The idea of merit pay for individual teachers has been touted as a way to improve student achievement. One state, for example, proposed a merit-pay system that would designate up to 25 percent of teachers in a district for a 5 percent merit-pay bonus on the basis of student achievemen… Read more