Kirksey Middle School

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

We began our research for PLCs in 2012 as the data reflected very little to no growth in learning for students and teachers.  As a second-year principal, I knew in order to begin our journey the first step we needed to focus on was building content collaboration.  Step one was a total remake of our Master Schedule.  The first year we were able to create common PLC time for Math & English teachers.  Teachers quickly came to realize the value of looking at essential standards, aligning curriculum within the grade level, making decisions using student data and began to unite in their vision for learning. 

Planning for the following year, it was apparent our Leadership Team needed to increase our knowledge of Professional Learning Communities and how the PLC Model could work at Kirksey.  The Administrators and Academic Coaches attended a PLC Institute in St. Louis.   We immediately returned and found key teacher leaders with whom we could share our learning experience.  As they learned from us, their passion was ignited to work with our Leadership Team as we began taking larger steps toward implementation.  Again, we went back to our Master Schedule, but this time our goal was to give all 37 core teachers a common PLC time.   The final product resulted in all content teachers with three common TEAM times and two common PLC times each week (see Master Schedule in Step 8).

Getting this structure in place we quickly worked with PLC leaders to create a timeline to guide their work as products were produced during their collaborative times.  During this time, Academic Facilitators and the Principal attended PLCs to guide and equip teachers with the tools and resources necessary to make data-driven decisions based on student learning. 

Rogers School District provided our Mission, but Kirksey Middle School needed a Vision.  Teacher volunteers formed a vision committee and began creating our vision statement.  Our staff of 68 worked through a gap analysis and began identifying the school we wanted to be.  After several weeks of collaboration, reflection, and research the vision committee presented to the staff our vision and values for Kirksey Middle School (see PDF in Step 8).

To continue our journey we had the opportunity to send 10 teachers to a PLC Institute hosted locally by our Coop.  After this, we formed a PLC Task Force.  This group was charged with bringing back the learning for all staff, creating a sense of urgency with our PLC focus and determining our next steps. Fortunately, our district invited Rich Smith from Solution Tree to present “Developing deeper PLC implementation” for a one-day training. With the new information we learned, we determined what our three goals were and aligned all of our initiatives with those goals as a school (see PDF “Goals and Initiatives” in Step 8).

After this, the task force quickly determined that we needed to create time during the school day to answer the four key questions of a PLC. It became evident that we needed to set aside time during the school day for RTI tutorials. A group of seven teachers went to the Arkansas Curriculum Conference where Mike Mattos was presenting. His work gave us clarity on creating a system of tiered support. We created a schedule that allowed for tiered support two days a week within the school day. Using common formative assessments, live scoring, and teacher observation of students, all students were placed in open and closed academic tutorial sessions.

As we have continued this journey, we have sent 20 teachers to our local Coop where they have received PD from Austin Buffman on RTI at Work. In addition, six additional new staff members have attended the PLC Institute and thirteen staff members are currently attending the Solution Tree Common Assessment Institute at our local Coop in Northwest Arkansas. Through our ongoing professional development, we continually reflect on and fine-tune our PLC processes and systems to ensure that we are answering the four key PLC questions.

Based on the results we have received at our current level of implementation, we believe that Kirksey Middle School is a model PLC school. We feel confident that we can represent Solution Tree as a MODEL PLC SCHOOL. Thank you for your consideration.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

      At Kirksey Middle School, PLCs work diligently to ensure that each student is learning at his or her full potential.  As our PLCs have grown and developed, each one successfully monitors the trends of their students as a PLC, in their classrooms, and individually.  It looks slightly different depending on the specific needs of the PLC, but they each analyze student data based on Common Formative Assessments (CFAs) that were planned and developed based on essential standards before the unit began.  So that each student is given timely feedback and interventions if needed, CFAs are given at least twice monthly.  Once PLCs develop the CFAs, they then analyze each one making sure that the Depth of Knowledge of the CFA matches the rigor of the essential standard. This ensures that the assessment results accurately and precisely monitor student learning. Many PLCs have designed a system that will analyze the data based on categories, such as if the student is a language learner (see document titled CFA Student Data Tracking).  This helps them evaluate their effectiveness at reaching all groups of students.  In addition to the global view, each PLC meets weekly to look at students individually in order to determine their specific needs to reach optimal learning.  These needs are then immediately met by differentiating the curriculum and/or through bi-weekly tutorials, a time set aside where teachers use data from CFAs to place students in either interventions or enrichment.  There is not a single student at Kirksey Middle School who does not have a group of teachers looking closely at their learning weekly and then working collaboratively to make decisions that are best for that individual student.

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

      The mission statement for our district is "all belong, all learn, and all succeed"; the staff at Kirksey Middle School make this their focus each day.  Most of our staff have attended a Solution Tree Workshop, and we closely follow the recommended 3 Tiers of Intervention.  Each PLC has spent many hours creating a guaranteed viable curriculum.  Each year time is spent reflecting on the curriculum and making sure that each essential standard and learning target is clear.  As a result, our building has a well-articulated curriculum that results in Tier 1 instruction that is effective for all but a very small number of students.  

   As part of making sure that every single student is learning and succeeding, we have time set aside during the day for systematic interventions or enrichment to occur.  PLCs develop and give CFAs and use this data to determine the precise area of need for each student. Students are then assigned to either an intervention or enrichment based on their needs. Not only are students assigned based on their exact needs, but teachers are chosen to teach tutorials based on their strengths according to how their students performed on the CFAs.  These guarantee that the most effective teacher is supporting those students who need it most (see Tutorial Documents).  

       Although tutorials successfully provide additional time and support for those students who are struggling to learn an essential concept, we have students who can easily learn the material but who do not put in the time or effort to do so.  To offer additional time and support for these students, we implement a program called Intensive Care Unit (ICU). When a student has the skills to complete a learning assignment, but they haven’t taken the opportunity to do so, they are placed in ICU. This provides students with systematic and timely intervention. Parents and teachers are notified, which allows that student to have a team of people encouraging and supporting them.  

      For students who are still not successful with our Tier 2 Interventions of ICU and tutorials, we have additional layers of support. We have an RTI team made up of content specialists who meet weekly to discuss students who are missing the foundation skills to be successful.  The RTI team suggests research-based strategies, helps monitor the progress of the students, and, if needed, will recommend them for testing. We also have a class that meets daily for 45 minutes to provide Tier 3 support for students who are missing the foundation skills in number sense.  These students are selected based on universal screeners and CFA data.  The staff at KMS is willing to do what it takes to make sure that each student is getting exactly what they need, and we are continuously updating and perfecting our interventions to best meet the needs of our current students.

 

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

     Collaborative teams are the foundation at Kirksey Middle School.  Each core teacher is on an interdisciplinary that meets 2-3 times a week, and every teacher in the building is a member of a content PLC that meets 2-3 times a week.  Meetings times are 45 minutes and are built into the school day.  Interdisciplinary teams focus on helping students build strong social skills and making sure that each student feels he or she belongs.  The PLC teams focus on ensuring a viable curriculum, creating systematic interventions and enrichment, and making sure each student is reaching his or her fullest learning potential.  To build highly-effective, collaborative teams we start by setting team norms and commitments. The norms and commitments help teacher teams to stay focused on improving student learning (see Highly Effective Team Documents). In addition, we use SMART goals to guide our efforts to improve student learning. SMART goals are the product of an intense analysis of where our students currently are and what we need to do to move them forward.  It is a living document that PLCs continuously modify as they learn more about the needs of their students.  Lastly, PLCs create agendas that focus on one or more of the four critical questions of a PLC.  As a result of the above, we have extremely high-performing collaborative teams that have led to a significant impact on students.

English Language Arts

 

2015 PARCC

2016 ACT Aspire

2017 ACT Aspire

Populations

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

All Students

57.83

33.40

71.30

47.87

74.92

52.56

TAGG

44.94

-

62.20

36.87

66.88

41.87

Economically Disadvantaged

44.52

23.14

61.81

37.65

67.65

42.60

English Language Learners

39.01

16.88

61.15

30.15

65.63

39.62

 

Mathematics

 

2015 PARCC

2016 ACT Aspire

2017 ACT Aspire

Populations

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

Kirksey % Achieved

State % Achieved

All Students

31.40

21.14

55.65

43.35

62.17

47.17

TAGG

19.05

-

44.88

34.25

50.53

37.89

Economically Disadvantaged

18.59

13.74

44.89

34.76

53.85

38.42

English Language Learners

13.82

9.47

40.46

31.69

48.93

37.10

 

OEP – Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2015-2016:

#10 of the top 20 middle schools in Arkansas, based on overall PARCC Achievement

#5 of the top 5 schools in the Northwest Region based on overall middle PARCC performance

#3 of the top 10 middle schools based on PARCC Literary Achievement

#3 of the top 5 schools in the Northwest Region based on middle Literacy PARCC performance

#2 in Arkansas for 8th Grade Literacy Achievement 

Other Awards:

Best of the Best Northwest Arkansas Middle School finalists (2013, 2015, & 2017)

NATIONAL FORUM SCHOOLS TO WATCH: Arkansas Diamond School (2007, 2010, & 2013)

Odyssey of the Mind World Finalists (2016-2017)

 

Rewards:

  • $79,034.80 (2013) Top 10% AR School Regional Program for High Student Performance and Academic Growth
  • $86,501.34 (2014) Top 10% AR School Regional Program for High Student Performance and Academic Growth
  • $49,667.79 (2015) Top 10% AR School Regional Program for High Student Performance and Academic Growth
  • $5000.00 (2015 & 2016) from the Wal-Mart Mi Futuro Program
  • $1500.00 (2016) from the National Dairy Council
 

Rogers School District Middle Level Teacher of the Year:

  • Kay Chiles (2014-2015)
  • Tina Wallace (2016-2017)

 

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