Centreville Elementary School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Our Centreville Elementary School (CES) journey to become a true Professional Learning Community (PLC) began in 2007.  That first year, with a new principal, was met with great resistance and mixed emotions from the staff who struggled to understand how this change in practice was essential in building a powerful, collaborative culture that would become a foundation of our work. The principal made a conscious effort to build a culture of trust and to establish a focus on student-centered decision making.  The PLC process had been introduced to the school a few years before, but implementation was inconsistent as teams grappled with how to change the status quo, and become “results oriented” to make our aspirations for student success a reality.  Teachers, who had preferred to work in isolation, did not initially embrace the notion of a collective commitment for continuous improvement and were frustrated and resentful with what they saw as unnecessary meetings and a threat to their professional autonomy.  We needed to shift the focus of our team meetings to ensure student achievement and success. 

The shift in culture in becoming a true PLC began in the summer before the 2008-2009 school year.  That summer all teachers were provided copies of Learning by Doing as their professional development book.  In our subsequent staff conversations we made the collective commitment to engage in collective inquiry about the best practices for teaching and learning, to become action oriented, and to create the conditions for perpetual learning in our school.  We created meaningful goals for ourselves and our students, and the process of becoming a learning organization was on its way. We gained an understanding of how to create S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time bound) goals, design engaging instruction, evaluate data, and monitor progress to ensure student growth.  We recognized the need to develop our school culture to become one where all students have equal access to quality instruction regardless of grade level or room assignment.  The only way that this was possible was for us to commit to working together in effective collaborative teams (CT’s). 

We made an effort to provide teams the time and support needed to establish trusting relationships. Our principal focused on restructuring and reorganizing to get the “right people, doing the right work, in the right places.”  We restructured the master schedule to create consistent blocks of time for each team to devote to common planning. Our new master schedule allotted for 300 minutes of planning time per week for each teacher within the bell schedule (not including before and after school times). The schedule also provided most teams with over 145 of the 300 minutes as common planning times for the entire grade level. We also found that it was important for at least one of their common planning times to be a minimum of 60 minutes in length. We accomplished this by combining two consecutive specials (P.E., art, music, library, technology), by adding a new resource teacher to teach S.T.E.A.M. classes, and by regrouping students into fewer groups for specials in grades 4 through 6.   

        We had to be very intentional about the conversations that we could expect to have during each of our CT meetings. At first there was a necessity for structure to be placed on what could and could not be discussed during the common planning time; lest we succumb to old team practices and “sharing war stories” that did not place student learning at the center of our work.  This focus helped teams move forward to create a collaborative learning culture, which was focused on student achievement and centered on the DuFour’s four essential PLC questions (What do we expect students to know and be able to do? How will we know if they have learned it? What will we do if they don’t? How will we respond when some students already know it?). It was evident a culture shift was taking place when teams not only valued their common team planning time, but also began to want more time together to talk about what students needed to be successful, and truly started to find significance in the PLC process.

Each year our collaborative teams have continued to refine our work to ensure that every student succeeds. The PLC process has helped to inform and improve our practices making our teachers and teams more efficacious. CT meetings have become more focused and efficient, as teams have held themselves accountable for student progress. We have been able to create sustainable intervention models and track the growth of all students.   A sign of progress was when our teams began to leave the collaborative team meetings knowing they were accomplishing more each week as a result of working together.  One student teacher commented on the value of our collaborative teams designing instruction by saying, “It has been so easy for me as a student teacher, because the team has already collectively designed high quality lessons that I can use. I don’t have to start from scratch.”

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

     Implementing a cycle of progress monitoring and weekly intervention into our collaborative team process was a big step in monitoring student learning on a timely basis.  By focusing on the four questions outlined in Learning by Doingand creating a focus on student achievement, monitoring student learning came naturally.  One of the first steps was to use the backwards planning model to unpack the standards and create common formative assessments (exit tickets, performance tasks, and unit assessments) during team meetings.  These assessments gave teams the ability to discuss student progress with common language and benchmarks.  In the past teams had relied mostly on the the district quarterly summative assessments to measure student growth.  Once planning for common formative assessments was embedded in our collaborative team meeting processes we were able to more successfully implement a variety of common formative assessments on a more frequent (daily / weekly) basis.  Collaborative teams began to utilize a data dialogue process following both district created and team created common assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of Tier 1 instruction.  Utilizing the data dialogue protocol created a safe structure for teachers to talk about their data and dig deeper into the teaching practices that proved to be the most effective. Collaborative teams utilized frequent formative assessments as a method to determine which students needed extra time and support  during core instruction or during the identified intervention block.  

 Collaborative Teams also began to more closely examine the growth of individual students through progress monitoring meetings facilitated by the reading specialist every six weeks. These progress monitoring meetings provided shared ownership of some of our struggling learners, and allowed for the power of the collaborative team to design effective Tier 2 intervention strategies. The consistency of these meetings gave teachers feedback on the effectiveness of the chosen strategies, and showed growth of the students which otherwise might not have been as visible on standardized district assessments.

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

    In an effort to keep students on grade level and out of remedial and intervention processes, we spent a significant amount of time solidifying Tier 1 instruction school wide. While we are always perfecting the art and science of best instructional practice, we are more assured than ever that our students are now receiving solid, appropriate Tier 1 instruction.  As a result, designing intervention for our students who truly need it became a more manageable task.  The first step was to ensure that every grade level had a 30 minute intervention block called MAP (Maximizing Academic Potential) time built into their day in the master schedule. At Centreville Elementary we do not receive federal (Title I funding), state, or additional county resources to serve our diverse population of over 900 students. Therefore we must maximize time and teacher resources in order to create the needed intervention blocks.  We coordinated a common time for each grade which gave collaborative teams the shared responsibility of all students’ success and allowed us to utilize available support staff such as special education teachers, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, and instructional assistances during this time.  Classroom teachers worked closely with the support teachers to design Tier 2 interventions giving us the ability to flexibility group students from different homeroom teachers.    This occurred across the grade levels by providing meaningful, targeted intervention and resources.  Our teams then used the data from formative and summative assessments to identify students by name and need to design an intervention plan that provided both time and support in core curriculum areas. Through weekly CT meetings, our teams discussed student progress and designed appropriate intervention strategies.  

  In addition to our intervention block, our Language Arts specialist has helped to organize Leveled Literacy Instruction (LLI) groups which several teachers lead on weekday mornings.  Teachers in grades four, five, and six also host “office hours” which is an open invitation for students to come in before and after school.  These efforts have been very helpful, but we wanted to take it a step further.  It has recently come to our attention that several of our students on the progress monitoring list do not have equal access to instructional materials.  Several students now make use of online learning programs (myON and Dreambox) in their homes.  Our economically disadvantaged students do not have this same advantage.  To help provide equal access to these resources we are in the process of opening up our computer lab before school to students who do not have access to computers and internet at home so they can access learning programs such as myON and Dreambox.  It is our hope that this will help us to narrow our achievement gaps in all subgroups.

 

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

We began with a common vision of what is possible for our students. We had a genuine and intense focus around building the professional capacity of our teachers and collaborative teams. Our principal recognized the need for a coaching model and subsequently redefined the role of our reading specialist, as well as created a math coaching position to help build the individual and collective capacity of our teachers and staff.  In their coaching roles, the reading and math specialists utilized structures for collaborative team processes such as modeling, mentoring, collaborative team visits, data analysis, lesson study, and structured reflection. This was done through consistent and focused staff development, and a continued emphasis on the four questions of the PLC process in all of our collaborative team meetings.

We had to change from the deeply embedded mindset that student progress was a private responsibility of individual teachers to a shared commitment of the collaborative team.  Data analysis and progress monitoring created a common foundation for healthy conversations around student needs and classroom and team practices.  By establishing norms and protocols in these meetings we developed a safe environment for teachers and teams to openly and collectively evaluate student progress relative to team goals.  Collaborative teams grew to understand that the process of analyzing data informs instruction and is critical for student success.  These data discussions led to intentional conversations about student progress.  These transparent conversations included all stakeholders including students, parents, and the school.  Creating trusting teams and adhering to our norms of collaboration allowed for rich discussions around student progress, goals and data, and opened the doors to consistent practice that led to student success. 

***The Centreville ES (whole school) 2014-2015 data includes students who received an SOL retake.  The grade level data below does not include remediation adjustments. 

Whole School

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

 

CES

State

CES

State

CES

State

Reading

83

75

84

74

87

79

Math

84

71

87

74

90

79

Science

80

81

89

80

92

82

 

Grade 3

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

CES

State

CES

State

CES

State

Reading

79

72

85

69

70

75

Math

72

65

72

67

70

74

 

4th Grade

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

CES

State

CES

State

CES

State

Reading

80

70

77

70

82

77

Math

82

74

82

80

87

84

 

5th Grade

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

CES

State

CES

State

CES

State

Reading

72

73

86

73

85

79

Math

60

69

85

73

83

79

Science

62

75

85

73

90

79

  

6th Grade

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

CES

State

CES

State

CES

State

Reading

85

73

74

73

86

76

Math

89

77

81

76

91

83

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