Prairie Hill Elementary School

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

Five years ago, we took the first step in our PLC journey by restructuring our schedule to accommodate common collaborative time for each grade-level team. This allowed every grade level team to have a one-hour block daily of common collaborative time. This started our mission. The next step was the unwrapping and prioritizing of standards at each grade level to ensure our ability to answer the first of Richard DuFour’s essential questions, “What do we expect students to learn?” We then aligned the prioritized standards vertically across grade levels, and identified “common standards” that were deemed essential in all grades, prekindergarten through fourth grade. These “common standards” afforded our teams to have inter-team discussions about the progression of these essential skills and concepts.

During these discussions we began developing common assessments, from which we gather the timely data needed to answer DuFour’s second essential question, “How will we know they are learning?” We developed Google spreadsheets that teachers utilize to document evidence of student learning, sort students into differentiated groups, and gauge grade-wide progress towards end-of-the-year goals. We are now in our second year of using a standards-based report card to report to parents and students.

We continue to build upon our successful PLC by refining and reflecting upon our practices. This year, for example, teams are engaged in a book study (Learning by Doing). Our discussion of the reading has resulted in a building-wide SMART goal of 80% of students reaching or exceeding "proficiency" for all of our prioritized standards. In reviewing last year's data (2015-2016), we achieved 80% proficiency or higher in 19 of our 25 prioritized reading standards K-4 as measured by our team-created common assessments. This year, our building-wide goal is to achieve 80% in all 25 of our reading standards K-4 as measured by our team-created common assessments. 

As we add to our knowledge base and improve our PLC practices, we add to and revise our online PHS Handbook. By clearly articulating (in writing) our expectations, policies, procedures and goals, we hold ourselves accountable to our shared vision.  

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Prairie Hill, we are committed to monitoring our students on a timely basis. All students are assessed on priority standards that are selected using common criteria (endurance, leverage, and readiness) by grade-level teams. Progress towards these end-of-the-year expectations is collected via common formative assessments that are collaboratively developed, administered, and scored by teams.  The data collected from these assessments is used in a timely matter as feedback for collaborative instructional decision-making: determining differentiated instructional needs, adjusting pacing, and analyzing effective teaching practices. 

Grade-level teams score assessments together and meet weekly to discuss the progress of students. Together, they adjust pacing of units, schedule interventions, and adjust instruction based on the monitored progress of the students. 

Parents receive feedback on student learning via the standards-based report card.  The first and second trimester progress reports provide evidence of learning as students progress towards the end-of-the year goals.  These are communicated to parents directly at conferences, including the parents in the growth plan of the student. For those students who meet the grade-level goals early, enrichment opportunities allow them to delve deeper into the concepts. 

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

A nationally-normed universal screener, STAR, is administered in grades one through four.

In an effort to more precisely answer DuFour's third essential question, "How will we respond when they don't learn?," our school utilizes a collaboratively-created RtI protocol. RtI groups are identified by common assessment scores on essential skills in each grade level. These RtI criteria change each trimester to reflect the desired growth moving towards the end-of-the-year goal (see attached RtI Guidelines, RtI Routines and Procedures and Common CFA Procedures for Tier 3 and IEP Students). The essential skills identified for intervention services are ones that progress throughout the building. RtI time is also used to expand the thinking of students that have already attained proficiency in grade-level standards. Each grade level has a devoted thirty minutes daily to intervene with students in need of support. The schedule allows for additional assistance at each grade level during this block of time, as no two grade-levels overlap in their RtI time block. 

In a school day that runs from 8:30-3:15, our RtI blocks are as follows:

  • 2nd grade: 9:00-9:30
  • Kindergarten: 10:20-10:50
  • 4th grade: 12:35-1:05
  • 1st grade: 1:50-2:20
  • 3rd grade: 2:30-3:00

For each RtI block, there are at least two paraprofessionals designated to assisting grade-levels so that interventions can be as powerful, and individualized, as possible. At our 3rd and 4th grade levels, students pre-assessments are used to identify students who have already achieved the expectations of the standards. Those students then work with our enrichment coach to go deeper within the standard. The group of students is ever-changing dependent on the standard and the proficiency of the students. 

For students who have already mastered skills or are showing greater proficiency in the initial (pre) assessment, differentiation and enrichment are provided for them. This is not a 'gifted' program, as the students that receive enrichment fluctuate dependent on the skills and standards. In this way, we are addressing DuFour's fourth and final essential question, "How will we respond if they already know it?"

 

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

A primary goal of Prairie Hill Elementary School is building high performing, collaborative teams that focus on the learning of all students.  Each grade-level team meets each week for at least 90 minutes to collaboratively address student learning.

Grade-level teams are afforded 300 minutes a week of common prep time, of which 90 minutes is used as grade-level common collaborative time. This time is used to create and evaluate common assessments, grade assessments to ensure inter-rater reliability, discuss student needs based on data (including RtI needs), and also evaluating best-practices in instruction. Teachers are provided 60 minutes a day of common prep time due to a schedule that built a specials schedule with this as a priority. We have either three or four sections at every grade level. A schedule was created that set our specials so that each class would have the following specials every week: 4 sections of Physical Education for 30 minutes each, 2 sections of Music Education for 30 minutes each, 1 section of Library/Media Skills for 30 minutes each, 1 section of Computer Education for 30 minutes each, and 1 section of Art for 60 minutes each. Classes then had PE every day of the week, paired with another 30 minute special, except for the day in which they had art. This would allow for 60 minutes of specials every day. For more information, please refer to the attached schedule. 

 

The curriculum coordinator, and often the principal, is present for at least one of the teams' weekly meetings. Each team establishes their own set of team norms at the beginning of the year, which is then revisited at the beginning of the subsequent trimesters. By adhering to these established norms, teams commit to a focus on evidence of learning, via feedback they obtain through common formative assessments. This feedback guides their instruction. 

Every grade-level team, and the special education team, has a teacher leader that serves on the Leadership Team, along with the principal and the curriculum coordinator. The teacher leaders change with each trimester, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to represent their team, and build shared knowledge. The Leadership Team meets biweekly to collaboratively address alignment goals pertaining to instruction and assessment.

Prairie Hill also has an Intervention Team that includes the Special Education Director, Special Education teachers, the nurse, the psychologist/social worker, and the principal.  The Intervention Team meets weekly to review student data for those students already eligible for special education. Additionally, data on students qualifying for Tier 2 and 3 interventions is reviewed in order to guide instructional planning and decision making. The Intervention Team also works with teachers to provide Tier 1 support at each grade level, by providing specific feedback and suggestions to support student learning.

Year and grade level

Assessment

ELA School Meets/Exceeds

ELA State Meets/Exceeds

Math School Meets/Exceeds

Math State Meets/Exceeds

2016 4th grade

PARCC

67%

36%

57%

30%

2016 3rd grade

PARCC

41%

35%

42%

39%

2015 4th grade

PARCC

56%

39%

45%

28%

2015 3rd grade

PARCC

30%

35%

50%

34%

2014 4th grade

ISAT

71%

56%

82%

64%

2014 3rd grade

ISAT

71%

55%

78%

56%

2013 4th grade

ISAT

81%

59%

88%

60%

2013 3rd grade

ISAT

81%

59%

81%

55%

 

 

Prairie Hill Reading Scores

State of Illinois Reading Scores

Prairie Hill Math Scores

State of Illinois Math Scores

2012-2013 ISAT

81%

59%

84%

59%

2013-2014 ISAT

71%

57%

80%

60%

2014-2015 PARCC

45%

38%

48%

31%

2015-2016 PARCC

52%

36%

48%

28%

Recipient of the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Award: http://www.beloitdailynews.com/news/prairie-hill-goes-blue-ribbon/article_acaeb6fe-4979-11e4-a2bb-17ff79e75754.html

Recipient of the Illinois Academic Excellence Award for Exemplary Academic Performance on the Illinois Learning Standards multiple times

Kevin Finnegan, Principal, was recognized as the Golden Apple Principal of the Year, 2016

1st grade team was recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a Those Who Excel award recipient, 2016

Barb Murray, paraprofessional, was recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a Those Who Excel award recipient, 2016

Traci Hill and Shannon Fisher, were recognized as Golden Apple Teachers of the Year

Multiple Golden Apple Teacher of the Year top twenty finalists

 

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