Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

William Flora

Committee Members

Lori Allen, Pamela Scott, Stephanie Tweed


This qualitative case study was conducted to develop an understanding of professional learning communities and other types of professional development and their impact on building educator capacity on student outcomes in Allendale County School District. This is a small rural underperforming district in which student performance has not improved over time despite the District being taken over by the South Carolina State Department of Education (SCDOE) on two separate occasions between 1999 and 2018. Research methods consisted of semi-structured interviews with a sample of 15 educators and administrators in Allendale, as well as a review of relevant documentation. The findings of the study indicate that much of the professional development provided in Allendale during the 1999-2018 period did not exhibit the characteristics identified in the literature for effective professional development, and was not based on the professional learning communities (PLC) approach which researchers have identified as effective in bringing about improvements in student performance. Much of the professional development provided for teachers over the past twenty years in Allendale has been short-term and fragmented; as a result, teachers perceived that it had little relevance to them and their students. The analysis of interviews and documentary evidence indicated that the potential of professional development for improving student performance in Allendale was hindered by numerous changes in school and district leadership and a confrontational and non-collaborative relationship between state and district officials. However, a result of the second state takeover was a more systematic and collaborative approach to professional development strategies and implementation. Research findings will be utilized to support future implementation of a more effective PLC model in Allendale, and for avoidance of leadership relationships that have hindered its progress over the past twenty years.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.