Heritage Middle School

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

13 years ago we began our PLC journey as Liberty Jr. High School, a 8-9 junior high school. In the beginning, we did our best to adopt the critical questions and areas of focus set forth by Dr. DuFour. Our biggest mistake was to adopt the processes without setting the culture. This caused us to re-start a few times. We realized we needed a guiding coalition of teacher leaders and administrators to ensure that all voices were involved and understood our need. We used current data and research to help create a clear message and focus.

In 2013, our school was reconfigured to a middle school with 6-8th grades. This caused us to change half our staff due to certification and normal turnover. Several teachers were asked to teach at grade levels they were not comfortable with. If we had not already established a solid PLC infrastructure, this change would have been daunting. We had to restructure our teaming to 2 man grade level content teams. This was different from having both interdisciplinary teams and vertical content teams. Our teachers have adapted very successfully. Since then, we have gradually settled into our new structure and we have consistently seen our students grow and improve at state assessments and district assessments. Our new adventure is to create a learning community that is personalized and engaging by investing in strategies including project based learning, design thinking, and workshop models using flexible learning spaces. We work to monitor progress by improving our assessment system to target essential skills.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our grade level content teams develop common formative assessments aligned to essential learning goals and outcomes. These are given frequently and quickly scored so that the results can be used to make instructional decisions about strategies in the classroom. These assessments are scored with a common scoring guided decided on by the team so that there is consistency in what they consider to be proficient. Teams are asked to use a data analysis protocol to review results and make decisions about needed interventions.

Students are allowed to re-learn essential skills and to re-take assessments to show growth and improvement.

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

Our Response to Intervention model has been greatly influenced by the book, A Pyramid Response to Intervention by Mike Mattos, Austin Buffum, and Chris Weber. We continue to improve our model by researching and trying new strategies. Our goal is to increase interventions at each tiered level so that anyone on staff can easily know the next step when a student is struggling. I believe we have successfully created a culture where all staff and students know that our purpose is to pursue kids and make sure they have every available opportunity to be successful. We take away excuses so that success becomes an expectation, not just a good idea for those willing to advocate for themselves.

Some of the interventions that work well for us include:

Tier One- Classroom adjustments that impact all students each day.

  • Teams work together to create a common guaranteed and viable curriculum that all students are exposed to at a similar depth of knowledge and engagement.
  • Staff training on using assessment data to differentiate instructional strategies when possible.
  • A building commitment to expose all students to non-fiction text and writing skills to create an awareness of the importance of literacy in all areas and to identify students that struggle with using skills outside the ELA class.
  • Teams work with counselors and administrators to create academic and social success plans for students who struggle.

Tier Two- Students identified as needing more support beyond the normal class time.

  • Students are identified through state standardized testing, local standardized testing, and common assessments to be enrolled in our Learning Strategies class or our 6th Grade WIN (What I Need) time to recieve either intervention with skill gaps or extension and challenge for students who are able to go deeper.
  • Content teams are asked to create tutoring sessions for students before and after school.
  • Next year, 2017, we will be changing our schedule to include a built in WIN time for all students 2 days a week. This will allow students to have access to support during the school day without begin pulled from new learning or expecting them to stay after hours.

Tier Three- Students at this level need a more intense smaller group or one on one intervention for an increased amount of time.

  • Beginning next year, our Learning Strategies class will focus on students who are significantly behind in their skills and learning. They will recieve this daily support in place of an elective in addition to the WIN time. These courses will focus mainly on literacy and math skills to impact learning across curricular areas.
  • Scheduled tutoring occurs after hours utilizing teachers and A+ students from the high school. These are set up with the family.

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

After going through our reconfiguration to a 3 grade building, our team structure also had to change due to staffing reductions. We currently have grade level content teams mostly made up of 2- 2.5 members. Sometimes having such a small team can be challenging depending on personalities. These teams have time built into their schedule 3 days a week. They are given a specific set of expectations that we are tight about. This includes publishing norms, agendas and minutes, developing a scope and sequence for each unit of instruction that includes an assessment plan, and creating a common response for intervention as needed. All team information is published to a staff website that anyone can review to help create communication between teams.

Administrators meet with each team at least once a month to offer support and review team goals and progress.

 

Present Student Achievement Data (% proficient and advanced)

  2016 (School/State) 2015 (School/State) 2014 (School/State)
Reading 70%/59.2% 64%/57.5% 63%/56%
Math 62%/61.9 47%/55.1% 55.6%/43.6%
Science 50%/47.9% 53.2%/49.5% 61.8%/52.5%
Alg.1 EOC 100%/65.8%

At HMS we work hard within our collaborative teams to identify areas of need on our state test. These teams are able to identify trends together and create classroom assessments and lessons geared towards addressing these needs. Because of this team focus, we have seen our scores consistently improve over the past 3 years. This past year we were encouraged to see our scores increase dramatically in two areas- communication arts and math. We have struggled in Missouri with the state test constantly changing. We have seen the cut-off scores change and the format change nearly every year. Our teachers have focused their team time to montior these changes and to remain focused on essential skills. If these teachers had been working independently, it would be much more difficult to identify trends and needs and to create an effective plan to impact the school as a whole. Our teams have learned how to learn together and how to improve each other.

  • Identified as a Top 10 School in the State of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the 2006-2007 school year.
  • Named School of the Year by the Missouri Center for School Reform in 2007.
  • Proud to be a part of the allthingsplc.org website.
  • Renaissance National Sponsor of the Year in 2010.
  • Renaissance National Media Wow School Award in 2011. Given to the school that has used its program to create a positive image in the community.
  • Awarded a $7500 grant by the Liberty School District Foundation to develop a Design Lab makerspace in 2016.

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