Oak Park

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

Oak Park High School PLC Journey

To understand how amazing the Oak Park High School PLC Journey is, you first have to know the Oak Park High School story.  Oak Park High School is located in Oak Park Michigan, a small city outside of Detroit Michigan.  Oak Park High School services, on average, 1,100 students.  Approximately 50% of the students attending Oak Park High school are not residents of Oak Park.  The district is school of choice and has been able to maintain financially due to the influx of out of district students.  The school services grades 10-12, not including the separate ninth grade academy, and all accountability data is connected to the 11th grade state assessment.  Approximately 85% of the students attending Oak Park High School qualify for free and reduced lunch.

In 2017, the Michigan School Reform Office announced that 38 schools in the state of Michigan were designated to be closed at the end of the school year due to being in priority status for three years.  This is a fate that could have befallen Oak Park High School had the school not committed to the PLC process.  Oak Park High School was identified as a persistently low performing school in 2010 and showed little to no sustainable growth from 2010-2013. However, things began to change in the fall of the 2013-14 school year.

After years of stagnation in regards to academic growth and student achievement, along with threats of next level accountability from the State School Reform Office, Oak Park High School made a full commitment to becoming a Professional Learning Community.  Prior to making this full commitment to the PLC process, Oak Park High School initially began the PLC journey in 2010 after attending a PLC At Work Institute.  

The team’s attendance at the 2010 PLC At Work institute was the start to a fundamental paradigm shift.  Information received from the conference helped the team to realize that a culture of collaboration would be necessary if they were to improve student achievement.  As a result of this shift, the building leadership made a structural change that was essential to supporting the PLC process. Leadership created a master schedule that allowed teachers time to collaborate.  This was the beginning of the PLC journey.

Although the school had begun to make essential structural changes needed to support the PLC process, the school had yet to clearly identify the fundamental work of the PLC process. As a result, the school experienced little to no academic growth over the next three years. 

In the fall of 2013, the school leadership changed and the school began the process of refining and improving its PLC practices.  Over the next three years, teachers continued to be organized into meaningful, grade level/subject specific teams, and continued to be provided with common planning time.  The major change in the process was that teachers were provided direction around the work to be done while meeting in collaborative teams. Teachers began to use their planning time to engage in the Data Team Process.  Teachers identified and unwrapped priority standards, created common formative and summative assessments, created SMART goals, developed common lessons, created and implemented pacing charts and created intervention plans for students. 

Inside of the Data Team Process, teachers who are on the same team, administered at least two common formative and one common summative assessment. Teams met at least twice per week to engage in the PLC work, with some teams meeting as often as five days per week.

Teachers used a large portion of their meeting time to collaboratively analyze student work.  This process included teachers comparing the results of common assessments and common formative assignments, to gather evidence of student learning, identify misconceptions, and ultimately determine what adjustments teachers needed to make in regards to improving their teaching practices for the purpose of improving student learning. With these additions to their current structure, Oak Park High school began to take their PLC practices to the next level.  

 After one year on the PLC journey, the school experienced growth in ELA and Science and improved its state report card rating from the lowest possible rating of red, to the next level rating of orange.  Encouraged by the results of the first year, the school continued on the PLC journey and improved in all “Three Big Idea” areas and student achievement continued to increase.  At the end of year two, the school showed growth in all four core content areas and raised its state report card status from orange to lime green, which is the second highest possible state score. After three years on the PLC journey, Oak Park High School has maintained a report card rating of lime green, and has continued to grow in all PLC practices.  To date, the 2014-15 school year marks the school’s best report card score.  During this testing cycle, the school scored 40/42 points missing a perfect score by only two points.  The school’s hard work and commitment to the PLC process ultimately resulted in the school being removed from the state priority school list. In 2017, Oak Park High School is continuing to flourish as a professional learning community, which means students are continuing to grow.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

 

Each content area has established a guaranteed and viable curriculum.  This was accomplished by the teacher teams first working to identify the priority standards to be covered.  Teams then unwrapped the standards to identify the essential skills and learning associated with each standard.  Teams then used this information to create common formative and common summative assessments for each unit of study.  Assessment items are directly aligned to standards and skills which are also aligned to state and national assessments.  Teachers are able to use internal assessments as true and accurate indicators of how students will perform on state and national assessments.

The next step was for teacher teams to create daily learning intentions and success criteria.  These daily learning intentions and success criteria allow teachers to monitor daily learning. The final step in this process was for teachers to design lessons that included intentional checkpoints inside of the lesson's learning progression.  By doing this, teachers are able to monitor student learning minute by minute.  Each assessment cycle, rather it be unit, daily, or minute by minute, involves feedback to students and feedback from students that is used to inform teacher actions.

Teacher teams use the Data Team process as a framework for their collaborative team meetings.  Step one of this process requires teacher teams to categorize students based on their pre-assessment data and agreed upon team criteria.

Step two of the process requires teacher teams to analyze and prioritize student's needs associated with the essential learning skills. Teacher teams then complete step three of the process which is to set SMART goals for each unit of study. 

 Steps four and five of the Data Team process requires teachers to identify the specific instructional strategies, adult behaviors, student behaviors, and success indicators to be implemented and observed during a unit of study.  This allows teachers to have common criteria for what adequate student progress looks like. 

Teacher teams spend the majority of their time in step six of the Data Team process, the monitoring phase.  During this time, teachers who are on  the same team, meet to compare results from common assignments and common assessments.  Together, teachers then reflect upon the results of the assessments to determine how effective their teaching strategies were, and to determine how they can improve their teaching practices for the purpose of increasing student learning. 

Each teacher and department created data walls that identified the standards and skills being assessed, and how the department was progressing towards reaching their proficiency goals.  In addition, teachers created classroom specific data walls in which students use the data to set goals and to track their individual data.

 

Oak Park High School changed its grading policy so that grades would accurately communicate to all stakeholders what students know, and are able to do.  

Grades are posted to the online grading system regularly and students receive progress reports at the midway point of every marking period.  

 

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

Our Tier I and most impactful form of intervention is accomplished through the development of a guaranteed and viable curriculum.  Teachers work in collaborative teams to develop a common curriculum that allows enough time for teachers to teach the essential skills, and enough time for students to learn what is being taught.  This means that each unit is customized in the amount of time allocated for teaching and re-teaching.  Developing lessons in chunks and segments with each segment having specific success criteria, allows teachers to provide in the moment intervention for students who may not be obtaining the information being taught.

 

Since these lessons and assessments are developed collaboratively, department teams and subject specific teams work together to provide intervention when common misconceptions occur.  Teachers frequently adjust their schedules to regroup students for the purpose of allowing students to receive individualized support.  When students have proven that they have met the success criteria, the teachers resume their regular schedules.

 

In addition to classroom and team interventions accessed through the guaranteed and viable curriculum, the school adopted a mandatory re-do policy.  Students are required to retake any summative assessment for which they did not meet the proficiency mark.  Students receive additional teaching around their areas of struggle from a content teacher. The supporting teacher signs off on the student’s work, signaling that the student is prepared to retake the assessment for the purpose of demonstrating proficiency.

The school also implemented an extended day model for Tuesdays and Thursdays for the purpose of supporting literacy.  This time is used for teachers to support students who are struggling with foundational literacy skills, and to challenge students who have proven to be proficient in those same foundational skills.  Students participate in a pre-assessment to determine need and a post assessment to determine growth.

 

Math and reading support courses are built into the schedule.  Students are placed in these courses based on criteria created by the department teams.  These courses are designed to support students with closing identified gaps with foundational skills.  The groups are fluid and students are able to exit these courses once they have shown proficiency.

After school tutorial in all core content areas, including world language, is available for all students.

 

 

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

The school has developed systems to intentionally support teacher capacity to work as high performing teams by first identifying the work of the teams.  Each member of the staff participates in ongoing professional development around what it means to function as a professional learning community. 

Teams are provided with protocols such as the Data Team process to guide their collaborative work.  Protocols of this nature support teams with establishing norms, establishing common committments, and engaging in the right work.

All new teachers participate in teacher orientation which includes extensive coverage of the PLC and the Data Team Processes. Teachers then receive ongoing support throughout the school year around these same processes.

Staff meetings have been repurposed and redesigned to function as professional development opportunities for staff.  These professional development opportunities are all connected to key aspects of the PLC process.

In addition to whole group professional development, teachers are able to receive tiered support to meet their individual needs related to components of the PLC process.  Many times this support is provided by peers.

Staff is provided with ongoing opportunities to learn by doing as all staff members are on a collaborative team.  These teams range in nature from department and subject specific teams, to interdisciplinary and action research teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

           
           

Year

Subject

Proficient

Assessment

2014

Reading

29.6%

MME

2015

Reading

88%

MSTEP

2016

EBRW

45%

SAT          

 

Year

Subject

Proficient

Assessment

2014

Math

8%

MME

2015

Math

75%

MSTEP

2016

Math

25%

SAT

 

Year

Subject

Proficient

Assessment

2014

Science

8%

MME

2015

Science

66%

MSTEP

2016

Science

23.7%

SAT

 

Year

Subject

Proficient

Assessment

2014

Social Studies

28%

MME

2015

Social Studies

94%

MSTEP

2016

Social Studies

38%

MSTEP

Report Card Rankings

Year

Report Card Score

1. Green

2013

RED

2. Lime Green

2014

ORANGE

3. Yellow

2015

LIME GREEN

4. Orange

2016

LIME GREEN

5. Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  The State of Michigan changed the accountability test each year.  This accounts for the range in scores from year to year.  However, the state report card scores show sustained improvement from year to year.  All scores from the 2015 and 2016 assessment cycles, "Exceed" the state's target proficiency scores set for the school.

 *2015 and 2016 data are available on the State of Michigan BAA Secured Site..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year

Graduation Rate

2015-16

88%

2014-15

88%

2013-14

80%

2012-13

89%

2011-12

83%

 

Year

# of students in AP Courses

% of students earning an A or B

2015-16

102

90

2014-15

106

88

2013-14

114

81

2012-13

104

82

2011-12

74

80

 

Two Gates Millennium Scholar winners in the last three years

The only school in Michigan, as of 2016, to have teachers participate with the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation

Two staff members on the planning committees for national and regional ECET2- Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers- supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Teacher to Teacher

Numerous teachers across multiple content areas have been trained in Reading Apprenticeship through West Ed's RAISE project in Michigan. More teachers are being trained this summer.

Released from the priority schools list (2017)

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