Desert Hills Middle School

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

When Desert Hills Middle School opened in 2007, extra care was taken by our school leadership team to begin creating the culture necessary to become a successful Professional Learning Community.

Our faculty met to determine our school’s mission and collective commitments.

The mission of Desert Hills Middle School is to ensure that all students gain essential academic knowledge and life skills.

We are committed to:

- Providing a safe and inviting learning environment

- Making students and student learning the focus of our efforts

- Involving parents and the community in the learning process

- Using the Professional Learning Communities framework to improve instruction and student achievement in our classrooms.

Each foundational component of a successful PLC was then taught/reviewed, discussed, and time was spent planning how the process would be implemented.  

Admittedly, in the first years there was a lot of looking at checklists and making sure everyone used the designated PLC collaboration time effectively. We made mistakes along the way but found as we held tight to some essential structures at our school we were able to grow and improve.  

  1. We established collaborative teams by grade and content level.

  2. We built into our schedule dedicated time for collaboration focused on student learning.

  • Teams determine the essential standards and supporting Learning Targets.

  • Teams develop Common Formative Assessments (CFAs).

  • Teams use the results of their CFAs to determine

    • Who learned,

    • Who needs more time and support, and

    • Which teaching practices resulted in student learning.

  1. We established an Intervention Team and built into the school day “sacred” time for interventions that are targeted and directive for students to master guaranteed skills and receive help and assistance.

  • We established a homeroom period in the middle of the day for all students. Each teacher’s home room class consists of students they see in their content-area class. It provides each student with an adult who knows their needs and is there for the sole purpose of helping them be successful.  During homeroom students can receive individual targeted instruction, study, work on assignments, make up work, and/or get help from any of their teachers.  Students also participate in targeted and directive team interventions as part of our RTI system.

Professional learning to build shared knowledge and a common language has also been an essential part of our success. Each collaborative team has been able to attend a Solution Tree PLC conference along with a member of the leadership team.  Continuing to focus on the basics allows us to have a laser-like focus on student learning--really looking at our process and identifying where we are helping students be successful. Every year we continue to review the concepts and refine our practices at the beginning of the year and through the year as necessary.

Perhaps the biggest sign that we have a successful PLC is that our teachers are constantly engaged in various aspects of collaboration entirely on their own. No longer do we only talk about student learning during designated collaboration time. Throughout the day one will see teachers discussing student learning between classes, before or after school, or via email or text messaging. Instead of some program or district mandate, a visitor to the school would see effective PLCs as an integral part of the school culture.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Collaborative teams meet (at a minimum) weekly to focus our efforts to help all students learn at high levels. Teams participate in the following activities during the course of a school year.

-Teams develop, review, and implement the essential standards known as the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC) and supporting learning targets.

-Create, administer, and review results from (pre- and post-) common formative assessments (CFAs) to assess student learning of the GVC and learning targets.

-Teams agree on a proficiency standard each student must meet for each CFA.

-Upon data review, teams identify the number of students that met the proficiency standard, names of individual students who did not meet the standard, and instructional practices/strategies that were the most successful.

-Non-proficient students are assigned to a team intervention where they are given extra instruction and practice to master the essential skill.

-Non-proficient students are re-assessed after the intervention to check for proficiency of the essential standard or skill.

-The team develops a specific plan for any student still not proficient after the team’s intervention.

-Some interventions/re-teaching are done during class time, but the majority takes place during an intervention period (homeroom).

-Each student is assigned a homeroom teacher who acts as an advocate for that student in all of his or her classes.

-The homeroom teacher monitors student grades and missing assignments.

-Homeroom teachers share information and concerns with appropriate stakeholders (administration, counselors, teachers, parents, and so on).


-Counselors and administrators monitor and meet with students who exhibit academic, attendance, and/or behavior concerns.

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

Tier 1

-Classroom teachers teach essential learning standards/GVC and learning targets.

-Classroom teachers conduct formative and summative assessments and analyze data.

-Classroom teachers plan and conduct reteaching, intervention, and enrichment activities.

-Homeroom is required for all students and provides time for students to study, work on current or missing assignments, or request to meet meet with teachers to get extra help, make up work, or re-take assessments.

 

Tier 2

-Teams analyze CFA data and select students for targeted and directive intervention during homeroom.

-Students participate in the intervention and are re-assessed to ensure mastery.

-Students receive an individual note directing them to the room for interventions.

-Administrators make sure that the required students have received their notice and make it to the correct room.

-Each content area has a day of the week reserved for their interventions. Contents may use other days after clearing it with the team that has the day reserved.

-For teachers conducting interventions, media center staff or administrators cover their homeroom class, or other teachers on the team cover.

-Teachers can request individual students see them during homeroom if the students are not already assigned to an intervention that day.

 

Tier 3

-Pre-screening through assessments and meetings with prior school/grade level teachers, counselors, and administrators.

-Selected students may receive homeroom changes to be in the homeroom of the teacher of a specific content area in which they are struggling.

-Selected students are required to participate in small study hall classes for extra time and support to keep up with learning activities.

-Selected students are provided a math lab class for extra time to master essential mathematic standards.

-Selected students are provided a study skills class to help them learn important soft skills and receive extra help with learning activities.

-Selected students are provided a language arts lab class for extra time to master essential language arts standards.

-Selected students are provided an extra reading class for targeted reading instruction to help them increase reading skills to be on-level.

-Selected students participate in online credit recovery courses during the school day.

-Selected students participate in Read 180 classes.

-Selected students participate in a double-block of ELA classes (two class periods instead of one)

-At-risk students participate in an Excel program to provide extra help and support.

 

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

-Collaborative teams have built in time to meet weekly, however, we practice the processes described above in question 1 continuously--it’s the way we do things around here.  

-Collaborative teams participate in ongoing professional learning to discuss and get clear on the practices that create effective collaborative teams.  We hold each other accountable to those things and work to get better together. Additionally teams use the results of their assessments to determine  the content-related instructional strategies that elicited the greatest learning outcomes.    

-Teams use the district online CSIP tool to input and monitor all components of the team’s processes including each team’s professional growth plan (PGP) for the year.

-The school learning coach participates in district provides support, training, and peer coaching available to all teachers.

-The school academic data coach provides user-friendly data to individual teachers and teams as well as instruction/training on making data-informed decisions.

-Administrators meet formally and informally with teams to provide support, guidance, and leadership.

 

Additional Achievement Data

***See spreadsheet in "Step 8: Additional Documentation"***

SAGE English Language Arts Comparison

Grade

 

 

2013-2014

 

2014-2015

 

2015-2016

 

2016-2017

Grade 8

 

State

 

41

 

43

 

42

 

41

 

District

 

50

 

50

 

47

 

48

 

DHMS

 

54

 

61

 

53

 

57

Grade 9

 

State

 

40

 

45

 

41

 

39

 

District

 

46

 

54

 

50

 

48

 

DHMS

 

53

 

62

 

56

 

57

OVERALL

 

State

 

42

 

44

 

44

 

44

 

District

 

46

 

50

 

49

 

48

 

DHMS

 

54

 

62

 

54

 

55

SAGE Math Comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Math 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State

 

37

 

42

 

45

 

43

 

District

 

41

 

47

 

51

 

48

 

DHMS

 

45

 

46

 

63

 

58

Sec. Math I

 

State

 

31

 

41

 

42

 

41

 

District

 

31

 

48

 

46

 

48

 

DHMS

 

38

 

53

 

52

 

60

Sec. Math II

 

State

 

30

 

36

 

38

 

38

 

District

 

34

 

37

 

41

 

39

 

DHMS

 

100

 

100

 

100

 

92

OVERALL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State

 

39

 

45

 

46

 

46

 

District

 

41

 

49

 

49

 

49

 

DHMS

 

42

 

50

 

58

 

59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAGE Science Comparison

Int. Science 8

 

State

 

46

 

47

 

49

 

48

 

District

 

54

 

55

 

54

 

53

 

DHMS

 

57

 

62

 

62

 

62

Earth Science 9

 

State

 

43

 

45

 

44

 

42

 

District

 

51

 

58

 

58

 

54

 

DHMS

 

57

 

71

 

68

 

67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State

 

38

 

44

 

44

 

43

 

District

 

44

 

52

 

51

 

50

 

DHMS

 

70

 

84

 

82

 

84

OVERALL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State

 

44

 

47

 

49

 

48

 

District

 

51

 

56

 

57

 

55

 

DHMS

 

59

 

68

 

66

 

67

Many of DHMS teachers and staff members have been awarded the “Superintendent’s Award for Excellence.”

Individual teachers and teacher teams have been recognized for their teaching excellence.

DHMS consistently ranks among the top-performing schools in the state on the annual state assessment (SAGE).

DHMS recognizes approximately 60%-70% of its students every year for achieving honor roll (3.5 GPA) and high honor roll (3.75 GPA) each year.

Many DHMS groups achieve success every year in competitions: Math Count, Science Olympiad, visual art shows, performing arts awards (band, choir, and orchestra).

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