Mountain Meadow Elementary School
- Number of Students: 565
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 25.3%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 2.7%
- Percent of Special Education: 18.1%
- White: 77.3%
- Black: 1.5%
- Hispanic: 11.3%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.9%
- Multiracial: 7.8%
- Other: 0%
At Mountain Meadow, every Monday morning begins with a sacred gift – the gift of time – time to collaborate within Professional Learning Communities teams. This time is protected. There is nothing more valuable than the work of the PLC. Every Monday morning students arrive one hour late, giving teachers uninterrupted PLC time to focus on the success of their students. Teachers and administrators understand the importance of this precious gift, nothing else is scheduled Monday mornings. The work of the PLC always takes priority.
It’s a journey that began at Mountain Meadow 18 years ago with Principal Janel Keating, who did everything in her power to snatch a few minutes here or there so teachers could collaborate to improve student learning. Over time, that vision led to a systematic approach to increase student learning based on the foundation of our work in Professional Learning Communities. This approach has transitioned more from a focus of teaching to a focus on student learning. The heart of our Professional Learning Communities is “How can we ensure high levels of learning for every child?” To do this, our teachers concentrate on the four guiding questions of a PLC:
- What do we want the students to know?
- How will we know if they know it?
- What will we do if they haven’t learned it?
- What will we do if they have learned it?
What do we want our students to know begins with a guaranteed and viable curriculum to ensure every student at every grade level has the same learning opportunities. The primary work for this is centered on unit planning. For each unit of instruction, teacher teams identify standards that will be taught and specific skills that are essential for students. Teachers determine instructional strategies used during core instruction and create student friendly learning targets and success criteria to support student learning.
Based on the unit plans, teachers use common formative assessments to determine student mastery. This includes a unit assessment, but also small formative assessments along the way to monitor student performance. These assessments give teachers the data needed to make instructional decisions based on the needs of their students.
Teachers use student data to drive intervention and enrichment groups to meet the needs of the students. At every level, kindergarten-5th grade, intervention time in ELA and math is built into the master schedule. Teachers determine interventions needed to support student mastery of a skill. Paraeducators are involved in planning and instruction to give small group support to students not meeting standard on a specific target. Teachers also plan enrichment groups for students already meeting standard so they receive additional time in their area of need, which might include relevant, real life problem solving related to the standard.
Our consistent focus on student learning and the four guiding questions has led to increased student achievement and provided teachers with job embedded professional development to improve their professional practice.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
High quality, solid core instruction is a critical component of student learning. Core instruction begins with grade level teams building units of instruction across content areas. Grade level teams begin by identifying the important standards that need to be taught. This leads to intended outcomes of instruction and what we want our students to be able to do after completing the unit. Grade level teams determine student friendly learning targets to ensure students are working towards mastery during the course of the unit. grade levteams choose a common pacing guide to help ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum across all grade level classes.
All units start with a pre-assessment to determine mastery of prerequisite skills. Pre-assessment data helps teachers make instructional decisions based on the needs of their students. Teachers continue to monitor student progress in a variety of ways including checks for understandings, tickets out the door, and a formative assessment. Teams analyze these formative assessments to make instructional decisions to support student learning. Teams respond to the data in a variety of ways including re-teaching, small group intervention, partner work, or individual time and support.
Teachers continue to enhance their unit plans by reflecting upon the earlier unit. Reflections include instructional strategies that help teach a specific concept, interventions to aid in a specific skill, possible misconceptions, and formative assessments that lead to understanding of student mastery. Moving forward, teachers have high quality unit plans with proven success to support teachers when teaching that same unit next year. This is especially effective when new teachers join a team, as there is a unit plan and a PLC in place to support them.
In the 2016-17 school year Mountain Meadow has set a school improvement goal to increase the use of formative assessments, to make instructional decisions along the way which will lead to increased student learning and a stronger indication of future student success.
Student achievement data has continued to increase based on the hard work of the grade level team during core instruction. More students at Mountain Meadow are meeting or exceeding standard on the SBAC than the state average in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade in math and ELA. In most grade levels, Mountain Meadow is outperforming the state average on the SBAC by more than 10 percentage points, and in some cases, by more than 20 percentage points.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
At Mountain Meadow, students are provided additional time and support in a variety of ways. This multi-layer arrangement includes: small group intervention and instruction in the classroom; Tier 2 interventions in both ELA and math, where all students receive intervention, enrichment, and support based on their learning needs; and a Tier 3 intervention for students who are well below benchmark, a triple dip to provide these students an additional support to help them be more successful in core instruction and close the achievement gap.
Intervention begins in the classroom during core instruction when a small group of students receive additional time and support from the classroom teacher on a specific skill. The time and intensity in these intervention groups is extremely fluid as students may move through this quickly if they show growth. These groups are constantly changing based on formative assessments and progress monitoring.
In addition, an intervention block is part of our master schedule in all grade levels in ELA and m to provide every student an additional intervention or enrichment based on assessment data. Teachers and administration meet in Response to Intervention teams every six weeks to review data and make instructional decisions based on that data. Using student data, teachers and paraeducators provide intervention based on skills. The students who are farthest below benchmark receive intervention in the smallest groups with our most qualified teachers. Students at or above benchmark receive enrichment to help support their learning needs. This group may be a much larger group where teachers facilitate the learning and students work through project based learning. Intervention is never cancelled, and taught with fidelity to maximize learning opportunities.
Students who fall far below benchmark also receive an additional triple dip during their day. These students are identified based on their data. This very small group or individual intervention provides a re-teaching or pre-teaching of skills to help the student be more successful in core instruction. This additional support is another way to support students and close the achievement gap. The collaborative team determines the time and intensity of support.
We are very proud of our work to close the achievement gap of our neediest students. On our end-of-the-year benchmark assessments in kindergarten-2nd grade, and in our SBAC data in 3rd-5th grades, we have decreased the number of intensive students (students in the red). In every grade level we have less than 10% of students in the red in reading and math, and in most grade levels, less than 5% of students that are intensive. The number of students that received a Level 1 on either the Math or ELA SBAC in grades 3-5 is lower than the state average on all assessments. This allows the grade level team the ability to meet with the current intensive students in very small groups to provide intense interventions.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Building high performing, collaborative teams is a critical component of the PLC process. This begins with late start Monday, where every grade level team has time to work collaboratively and uninterrupted. This time is treasured and no other meetings are scheduled during this time. The work of a PLC always takes precedence.
Grade level teams also have additional time built into their contract to work as a team. Teachers use the time to continue their work as a collaborative team, typically focusing on unit planning, creating common formative assessments, and planning for interventions/enrichment to increase student learning. In addition, all teams have common planning to ensure additional time to focus on the work of the team.
Another area to build capacity is by working with team leaders. Each grade level has a Team Leader to guide the work of the PLC. The Team Leader assists the team in establishing norms, roles, and accountability protocols to maximize the effectiveness of the team. Team Leaders also meet regularly with administrators to focus on the school improvement process. The Leadership Team then reviews school and grade level data to set SMART goals. The Leadership Team meets throughout the year to review data as it relates to meeting our SMART goals.
Members of the Mountain Meadow grade level teams are also often members of district wide PLC teams. They become part of the teacher leadership that provides the framework or skeletal structure that support building teams in the instructional decisions they make and the planning they do together.
In White River, we have both an Elementary Math and ELA team. These learning leaders consist of members from all grade levels and all schools. The Mountain Meadow staff is represented by teacher leaders in both teams. They have been involved determining Power Standards, constructing scope and sequence, creating district wide common assessments, and surfacing needs for ongoing embedded professional learning. There is such power to this work because there is consistency across buildings at each grade level, as well as a strong vertical alignment across grade levels.
These teacher leaders are able to bring their understanding of the district level work back to their teams. With a common and clear district wide structure in place, developed by the ELA and Math Teacher Leadership Team, building teams can get down to the important detailed planning around learning targets related to power standards, common team generated formative assessments, daily lessons, data analysis and intervention planning.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
2015 Washington Achievement Award
Mountain Meadow hosts PLC Site visitors from across the country multiple times per year to see effective PLC’s in action
Mountain Meadow staff presentated to Masters of Education Leadership students from the University of Washington on the power of the PLC.
Mountain Meadow Elementary School staff members have been featured in books written by Dr. Robert Eaker and Janel Keating
Hosting 30 Instructional Coaches from the Oregon Department of Education to observe Mountain Meadow Professional Learning Communities and answer questions with Mountain Meadow Administration.