Longfellow Elementary

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

Longfellow’s focus is on student learning, on holding appropriately high expectations for student performance, and on helping each student to develop a productive character within a safe environment. We contribute to student learning by using student performance data to increase student achievement and by using that same data, and research, to grow professionally.

Two years ago, we created a set of collective commitments that reflect our values and beliefs.  Our commitments, as a faculty, are:

  • We will have high expectations for student academic achievement and character, and will guide students to make responsible choices for their lives and the learning process.

  • We will use data to choose appropriate research-based instructional strategies to improve student learning.

  • We will provide a place where everyone feels emotionally, intellectually, and physically safe.

  • We will continue to grow professionally and share the love of knowledge in order to help students learn.

  • We will work together as a school community with families to promote and celebrate student success.

In our daily work, we hold ourselves accountable to fulfilling our commitments. These commitments help us to monitor our behavior and assist us in reflecting on our performance individually and at a team level. Our commitments guide us in conversations about what each member of our community  is able to do to achieve our common goals.

Several years ago, our District sent numerous teachers and administrators to a number of “PLC at Work” Institutes. As a staff, we supplemented that experience with Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices to Enhance Student Achievement by Richard Dufour and Robert Eaker. The Institute presentations and our study of this book guided our decisions on how to build a collaborative, respectful, and positive culture that was focused on learning for each student and driven by results. In each of our Similar Responsibility Teams (SRT) we analyzed the results of the students of each team.  At first, this was not easy to do because this analysis made it clear we had gaps at certain grade levels.

Through this effort we learned that if we worked together to solve problems and to create an engaging school climate, student learning improved. Shared leadership was and remains a very important component of our collaboration. By including teacher leaders on our school improvement team, we have been able to implement and sustain change as well as improve our instructional practices based on student results. Our school improvement team includes a teacher from each grade level, one teacher representing special education, our music teacher, one paraeducator, all Title I teachers, and the Principal. We meet once a month and conduct meetings according to a set of norms established by our team. Longfellow teachers complete two surveys at the end of each school year. One of these surveys is a professional development questionnaire to identify the needs of our staff for their professional growth. The other survey is a reflection survey which helps us to recognize the areas of our strengths and the areas where improvement is necessary.  Such reflection is based upon the student achievement data from the year. Keeping our focus on the results of these surveys and student achievement results helps us to remain a student- and learning-focused school.  

Based on the student results and staff reflection, we have implemented practices designed to improve student performance. To achieve our school improvement goals in reading and writing, we implemented an RtI process. First, we identified a core RtI team, which then mapped the steps in our RtI process. We outlined our RtI tiers, and described which students fell into tiers 1, 2, and 3. To hold everyone accountable for implementing the steps of the process, we agreed on progress monitoring assessments, interventions to implement with students, and timelines for implementation. Focusing our attention on core instruction became one of our main goals. The Instructional Facilitator built time into her schedule to attend weekly grade level planning meetings to assist teachers with questions, concerns, and to emphasize the importance of teaching curriculum with both flexibility and fidelity. Every Wednesday teachers gathered in grade level PLCs, in SRTs, or as a whole staff for professional learning for one hour. Teachers are able to do this given the early dismissal of students every Wednesday that was created without a loss of instructional time. The Principal attends SRT meetings every other week. Teachers set SMART goals for each semester and monitor their progress through discussions at SRT meetings. This time is very valuable for our educators, as they have an opportunity to collaborate, problem solve, and analyze student results to plan their further instruction.

For our building professional development, on particular Wednesdays, we have focused on research-based instructional practices to improve our students’ learning.  In the last three years, as a school, we have learned about and implemented: daily learning goals, Kagan cooperative learning, Marzano’s 6-step vocabulary instruction, celebrating success, tracking student progress, student engagement, homework and practice, and differentiation. All of these strategies are reflective of Marzano’s Instructional Framework that Hastings Public Schools adopted in 2012.

In the classrooms and hallways of our school we display the progress monitoring data from reading and math generated by students, classrooms, and the whole school. By completing Data Analysis protocols every quarter, teachers reflect on their performance together with their colleagues and plan the next steps for improvement. We are looking forward to continuing to work together to help our students grow as learners and human beings.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Knowing that analyzing student data provides us with invaluable information for adjusting our instruction and addressing the needs of every student, low performing or high performing, we have identified the following progress monitoring tools:

  • DIBELS/DAZE monthly/weekly fluency tests are completed by the classroom teachers and used to guide small group or individual instruction in reading.

  • DIBELS Math benchmarks are used to measure the acquisition of mathematical skills. This assessment is given to each studentthree times a year with progress monitoring as desired by teachers.

  • Pre- and Post-District Benchmark assessments, created by teachers, are entered into eDoctrina (our Electronic Assessment Management System) to evaluate areas needing further instruction/follow-up. These tests are given periodically throughout the school year to guide instruction and learning goals.  (Math, Reading and Science)

  • Common team assessments created by teachers based on units of instruction.

  • Students set their learning goals in reading and in math and individually track their progress.

Throughout this learning process we have realized the importance of including our students in their progress monitoring and goal setting. It begins with the classroom where teachers provide learning goals and performance scales to our students. To monitor students’ understanding of the learning goals, our teachers use basic scales, performance scales, and rubrics in their teaching. Each student self-assesses herself/himself on how well they know the skill or concept taught in the lesson. Teachers use this information to plan upcoming lessons and reteach certain concepts or use specific strategies to practice skills with students.

Before common assessments are administered, teachers conference with their students. The student and teacher review the student’s past performance, and the student sets a goal during the conference.  After the student completes a common assessment, the student adds the results to their progress-monitoring graph. Whenever students meet their goals, we take time to celebrate our common achievements.

Our staff members receive on-going training for how to create and administer common assessments. Developing a common language of progress monitoring assessments became a very important step. Our teachers were trained in how to set up graphs and how to conference with students helping them to achieve their goals. The monitoring of students’ learning is always accomplished in a timely manner, as all staff members and students participate in this important process of progress monitoring. Our students show pride in their achievements and are excited to set new goals for learning.

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

The idea of creating a class period devoted to intervention and enrichment appeared after the new Principal attended the PLC at Work Institute in Denver in October 2014. Longfellow Elementary School is represented by all socioeconomic groups living in Hastings. This year 59% of our students qualified for free and reduced lunches. However, out of our 129 students in 4th and 5th grade, 29 students were identified as students of high ability. Given this, the challenges of instructional planning and preparation for our teachers are very compelling. Creating lessons that address the needs of students who are greatly below the proficiency standards and who are highly above proficiency level in the same classroom are very real to us.

After a discussion between the Instructional Facilitator and the Principal, we decided to propose the creation of a 40 minute block of time for intervention/enrichment that would occur daily. Our school improvement team supported the proposal. Our intervention/enrichment time is designed to satisfy the learning needs of every student at Longfellow. Whether a student struggles with reading or exceeds all expectations, we provide strategies for everyone. Classroom teachers, special education teachers, our english language learner teacher, our Instructional Facilitator, and our paraeducators provide a variety of differentiated strategies and interventions that improve our students’ reading performance and help to further the development of each student.

Students’ placement depend on their performance on DIBELS progress monitoring assessment. Other research-based assessments are also used for placements. Progress monitoring is implemented depending on the needs of students (weekly or biweekly). Students who are at risk are placed with a paraeducator or learning facilitator to work on one of the interventions specific to their individual reading needs. Students who are close to proficiency level work with their classroom teachers in small groups. Core curriculum small group strategies are implemented with these students. Those students who are proficient or advanced in reading are invited to participate in Literature Circles, book clubs, or create book projects that challenge their thinking and further their ability to analyze the written word. Our interventions are monitored for effectiveness during PLC time through the analysis of common assessment data.

Another change we implemented for the whole school is our math focus time. It takes place from 3:00 pm - 3:10 pm four days a week. During this time students practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by using flash cards, math games, timed practice, and online math interventions, such as Reflex Math, Adapted Mind, and Khan Academy.

In addition to during-the-day interventions, our teachers, paraeducators, and parents volunteer their time to provide after-school opportunities for our students. Homework Club is an after school tutoring program offered three days a week from 3:20 pm to 4:00 pm.  Paraeducators work with students in each grade level except for kindergarten. The Principal or teachers stop by to check the progress of learning in Homework Club. Science Club is offered by Hastings College faculty and students every Wednesday from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Astronomy Club and Nature Club are additional extension opportunities for students interested in science. Chess Club is held by our music teacher and the school counselor for students interested in developing their logic and problem solving skills. Invention Convention is offered to students who like to invent new things. Most clubs are held between 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm. These opportunities provided for our students develop their personal interests and love for learning.

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

In the last three years, our PLCs have become high-performing, collaborative teams focused on continuous improvement of our students’ learning and character and to provide staff with the professional growth. This was achieved because of several changes that took place over the years. Among these changes were planned time for collaboration and the expectation of shared leadership. The following teams have helped us achieve our goals: the School Improvement Team, grade/content level SRTs, writing SRTs, the RtI Team, the Character Education Committee, and the BIST Committee. As noted earlier, our School Improvement Team is representative of shared leadership: grade-level teacher leaders, one SPED teacher, one music teacher, one para educator, the Instructional Facilitator and the Principal. Most important professional development decisions are made by our School Improvement Team who later meet with their SRTs to share ideas, strategies, and decisions. Grade-level SRTs meet with everyone who works with a certain grade-level of students, not just the general education teachers. Another team is our writing SRTs; we have K-1, 2-3 and 4-5 work together to ensure alignment of our writing curriculum, delivery, and assessment.  Finally, our RtI team is composed of our school psychologist, counselor, speech and language pathologist, SPED teachers, ELL teacher, Instructional Facilitator, and the Principal.

Every Wednesday our District dismisses students early so our teachers and staff meet for our grade level SRTs, writing SRTs, and building professional development. Our School Improvement Team meets once a month for an hour or longer outside of Wednesdays. Teachers are compensated for meetings during after school hours and for planning professional development for staff. Our RtI meetings occur once a month during the school day. Teachers have six plan periods weekly, so once a month one of these planning times is devoted to RtI discussions.

Our district adopted Marzano’s Instructional Framework five years ago, which has helped us to focus on our professional needs, improve classroom instruction, and implement a common language. The common language of instruction provides an explicit direction for our staff to become more effective educators and reflective learners.

By using team norms, a PLC products timeline, calendars of activities, and various templates, our teams remain focused on the most critical things. Every team reviews the established norms and keeps the team members accountable for their actions. Teams’ notes, agendas and Data Analysis Protocols are regularly monitored by the Principal. Team members reflect on their performance with a mid-year survey and an end of the year survey. We celebrate our common achievements as well as, when appropriate, individual student and staff achievement.

As a school we are very proud of our nationally recognized character education program. We believe that character education is as important as student academic growth. Our students learn about respect, responsibility, compassion, and integrity every day. The common language, modeling, and practicing of the skills are integrated into daily teaching and interactions with our students. We recognize their positive choices and acts by announcing students’ names every Friday at the end of the school day. Students are awarded certificates for demonstrating respect, responsibility, compassion, and integrity and their names are recorded on “Leopard Paws” that are posted in the hallways. At whole school assemblies we celebrate our common successes and learn from our students why showing good character means so much to them. As our students move to the Middle School, we often hear from their teachers about their great character traits. This and their academic achievement help us to have a great deal of pride in our Longfellow graduates!

 

Longfellow Elementary

         

Percentage of students meeting End of Year benchmark: Longfellow/District Scores

 

DIBELS Kinder

DIBELS 1st

DIBELS 2nd

 

Year  13 – 14

58/79

66/65

68/73

 

Year  14 – 15

70/85

57/74

76/72

 

Year  15 – 16

77/84

73/75

65/73

 

 






Percentage of students passing State Test (NeSA): LO Scores/State Scores

   

Grade:  3              

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other             (DIBELS compared to District)

Year 13 – 14

79/76

85/79

No Test

No Test

No Test

64/65

Year 14 – 15

83/78

92/82

No Test

No Test

No Test

70/78

Year 15 – 16

91/78

84/84

No Test

No Test

No Test

78/73


 

           

Percentage of students passing: LO Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   4   

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other         

Year 13 – 14

85/78

81/78

52/69

No Test

No Test

 

Year 14 – 15

85/77

84/81

80/69

No Test

No Test

 

Year 15 – 16

91/78

94/85

Changed Test

No Test

No Test

 
             

Percentage of students passing: LO Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   5   

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other         

Year 13 – 14

75/77

71/77

No Test

69/72

No Test

 

Year 14 – 15

80/76

73/83

No Test

82/73

No Test

 

Year 15 – 16

65/77

85/85

No Test

72/73

No Test

 
             

DIBELS scores overall have steadily increased over the past three years. For example, kindergarten has shown growth from 58% to 77% at benchmark, first grade from 66% to 73%. Second grade has also shown improvement if we look at horizontal movement of students moving between grade levels: the same group of students performed at 57%, and the next year they have shown almost 10% growth taking these students to 65% proficient. Because of high mobility in the District, in the 2015-2016 school year, the number of students in 2nd grade at Longfellow increased from 59 to 74 students. Mobility rates like this (25%) have a significant impact on student performance.

All grade levels continue to see increases in students’ performance on state assessments over the last three years. Fifth grade had a new team member in 2015-2016, and this was the same year that the number of students in 5th grade increased from 61 to 71 students (18% mobility). Nine out of these 11 students were students with high needs.

When examining the decline in math scores for 5th grade, we see the area of number sense as a considerable skill difficulty for our students. The fifth grade team held weekly meetings with the Instructional Facilitator and the Principal to create a plan on how to address this weakness. We decided to allocate time in daily math lessons to practice skills that improve students’ number sense. One of these strategies is math calendar activities. Another addition is our whole school math time from 3:00 pm to 3:10 pm four times a week. With this added communication, and changes to instruction, improvements have been seen in benchmark assessments and DIBELS math benchmarks. We anticipate such efforts will continue to drive improvement on the math state assessment in the spring of 2017.

In 2000, Longfellow Elementary School was recognized as a National School of Character.

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