Horizon Middle School
- Number of Students: 1,315
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 86.4%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 15.7%
- Percent of Special Education: 19%
- White: 19.47%
- Black: 14.49%
- Hispanic: 59%
- Asian: 3.19%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.36%
- Multiracial: 3.49%
- Other: 0%
The success of an institution lies in its ability to use systems thinking in solving problems that arise. The need to improve students’ achievement and reduce the learning gap has led Horizon Middle School to search for a way to address the problem. Since the school’s inception, the leaders, faculty, and staff have had a student-centered focus. To better serve our students, school leaders and teachers began attending the Professional Learning Summer Institute (PLC) and implementation the PLC philosophy in the schools’ operation-students’ learning, a culture of collaboration, and using data to inform instruction. This implementation required a paradigm shift, and the master schedule was adjusted to prioritize common planning so that teachers could collaborate and work on answering following questions: What do we want students to learn? How will we know when they have learned it? What do we do when they do not understand it? What do we do when they get it?
The school leaders supported the PLC process by providing sacred time for collaboration and established non-negotiables that would govern our work in the initial stages. School leaders, to maintain this sacred time and remove barriers, ensured that IEP meetings, parent conferences, and teacher meetings would not be scheduled during PLC time. To further sustain and steward this vision of improving teacher practice and subsequently improve students’ achievement, time was carved out during the summer break for teams to identify priority standards, build scales, and develop common-assessments. While the work we were doing was great, we needed to make sure we were also engaging in adult learning so that we did not lose focus. As teachers grappled with the philosophy of PLC and the need to shift from teaching to learning, our very own philosophy of grading was tested. Teachers formed a study group and read “Standards Based Grading," engaged in discussions and debate which led to the study group embracing the philosophy of standards-based grading. The team further discussed the standards-based grading philosophy with the administration and proceeded to educate parents, students and other staff members of the need to shift our mindset from traditional means of grading to standards-based grading. This approach to grading aligned with the philosophy of the PLC. In-house training was offered to teachers who were interested, and the Standards Based movement began. The approach to grading led to many conversations with teachers whose mindset was challenged, as teachers saw how standards-based grading aligned with the PLC philosophy of assessing students' learning, more teachers adopted this grading philosophy.
In 2013, the PLC concept of improving students' achievement was adopted school-wide. A PLC facilitator was chosen for every grade level and subject area. The PLC facilitators met, reviewed the philosophy of PLC and the work began. While we have teams operating at different levels, our work was more streamlined. We moved away from teacher isolation as a means of improving students' learning to a collaborative approach. To steward and sustain the vision of the PLC, teams were given sacred time for collaboration. The focus of most of the team meetings dealt with a focus on students' learning, collaboration and collective responsibility, and a focus on results. We were never naïve to the idea that we would never have conflict on teams as they collaborated. The principal, assistant principal and PLC facilitator worked with teams to provide support, resources, facilitated difficult discussions, and helped with building trust so that the work we were involved in was meaningful and truly focused on students' learning. This support helped some teams move from compliance to a commitment to continuous improvement.
To continue the PLC drive, PLC facilitators participated in monthly Professional Development on various topics. The Principal, Assistant Principal, led this along with the PLC lead Facilitator. As a school, we are committed to students' learning. We endeavor to produce students who are competitive and productive in the global economy and knowledge society. As we examined student-learning data, we recognized that we were not being successful and we had to confront the brutal facts without losing faith in our commitment to students. As such, the idea for in-school intervention and enrichment time Eagle University (EU) was born. This intervention time was to provide support for students who did not master the standard and an opportunity for enrichment for those who did. We had no idea where the EU idea would take us. We were willing to try and fail to figure out what worked and what did not. After some revision, to date we have an EU system in place that is concisely tied to PLC and MTSS. Students are doing more than making up work and redoing assessments. They are receiving instruction that is targeted to meet their needs. The MTSS problem-solving team, the grade level deans, counsellors, teachers on planning during the EU rotation meet on a biweekly basis to discuss students' learning data, behavior and any socioemotional concerns. Additionally, teachers are given strategies to use to improve Tier 1 instruction.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Crucial to the idea of focusing on students' learning, is inextricably tied to the question, "How do we know if they have learned it?”. Subsequently, classroom teachers use a combination of monitoring strategies to assess if students are achieving the learning target. The following strategies are used to monitor students' learning-entrance and exit tickets, anticipation guides, pre-assessments, questioning and revising knowledge, summarizing information, reflecting on learning, hand signals, Socratic seminar, 3-2-1, Plickers, GradeCam. The use of these strategies during the lesson gives the teacher an opportunity to reflection on practice during the lesson and make the necessary changes, as well as, reflect on action to decipher why something happened and consider how to improve things. This practice leads our teachers to reflect for action. As the data from formative assessments are reviewed teachers can adjust instruction, reteach learning target or enrich learning. Teachers also monitor the learning environment to ensure that behaviors are not negatively influencing the learning environment.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
As we continued the PLC journey, we recognized the need to provide intervention and enrichment time for our students who did not master the critical content. Morning, lunchtime and afterschool tutoring sessions eliminated some students from attending due to factors we had no control over. Consequently, we looked at the factors we had control over and implemented a school wide intervention/enrichment time in our Master Schedule – Eagle University (EU). EU occurred for thirty minutes, four days per week. Currently, students rotate to different periods during intervention time. For example, students will go to their 1st period during intervention on Monday, 2nd on Tuesday, 3rd on Thursday, and 4th on Friday and continue the rotation through eight periods the following week. Our ELA and Reading classes have flexibly grouped students school wide based on i-Ready learning profile to meet students' needs. Math, Science, and Social studies utilize this time to remediate and enrich students based on common assessment results and regroup students to meet their needs.
In all subject areas, teacher teams develop common assessments by first identifying essential standards. Then, they unpack the standards and the depth of knowledge required for each standard to identify the progression of learning and create learning targets. Proficiency scales are then created which students use to track their progress towards mastery of standard. Additionally, teacher teams track success of standards using iReady Standards Mastery tests that are aligned with the essential standards and/or teacher created tests. In conjunction with teacher created tests, teachers use grade-cam to track students’ progress by standard. Teacher teams analyze common assessment data to identify students who have met the standard and those who needs reaching. Additionally, instructional strategies used by each teacher is discussed to see its effect on students’ achievement.
Based on the students’ results, the teacher with the greatest success in teaching the standard becomes the remediation teacher for students who did not show proficiency. In so doing, students retaught using a different strategy. The other team members work with students who are proficient on enrichment activities. These enrichment activities could take the form of the “nice to know” standards or an extension activity relating to the standard.
As an additional support, we have ELL and ESE interventions that take place during Eagle University. During this time, students are able to preview the upcoming content vocabulary and concepts to build and activate background knowledge.
When our Eagle University intervention period rotates to a period in which students are not assigned to a teacher, teachers report to an MTSS/ RTI meeting with academic coaches, counselors, deans, and an administrator. During this time, the problem-solving team reviews school wide data in addition to provide feedback on Eagle University and our lunch and learn intervention groups. With our “All means All” approach to the MTSS/RTI process, we are able to meet face to face with all teachers twice a month. Additionally, we are able to discuss strategies relating to academics, behavior, and socio-emotional needs of our students, as we strive to achieve our schools’ mission.
When our Eagle University intervention period rotates to a period in which students are not assigned to a teacher, teachers report to an MTSS/ RTI meeting with academic coaches, counselors, deans, and an administrator. During this time, the problem-solving team reviews school wide data in addition to provide feedback on Eagle University and our lunch and learn intervention groups. With our “All means All” approach to the MTSS/RTI process in which we work towards each student learning despite any obstacles they may face, we are able to meet face to face with all teachers twice a month. Additionally, we are able to discuss strategies relating to academics, behavior, and socio-emotional needs of our students, as we strive to achieve our schools’ mission.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
One of the core values of the PLC process is that teachers work collaboratively to improve instruction and subsequently learning for all students. To build high performing teams, HMS has embedded time in the master schedule to reflect our belief of improving students' learning. Currently, our master schedule has time embedded for team cross team or subject specific collaboration, and an intervention and enrichment time. To guarantee that time was never a barrier for collaboration, we had a designated time for collaboration during the school day and have been using Title 1 funds to provide an additional one hour weekly PLC for teams to collaborate and build common assessments, evaluate data to inform instruction. If teams needed additional time to analyze data and make action steps, substitutes are provided to afford teachers the time to collaborate.
The past three years we have sent teams of 15-25 to the PLC Summer Institute which has inspired our staff to make PLCs the way of work at our school.To continue the focus on building high performing teams, non-negotiables were established. Teams created norms to govern behavior and foster the building of trust. This was critical to the process so that as team members became vulnerable, they were assured that this was never about them, but more about improving our practice so that we can improve students' learning. Semester outcomes were developed to help guide the work of the PLC process; breaking down essential standards, creating common assessments, analyzing student data, and adapting instruction to meet student needs during intervention time.
To support this process at a high level the principal, assistant principal and academic coaches strive to be active members in all small group PLC’s throughout the campus to support teachers through the seven stages of the PLC process.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
PLC Model Data File:
In the attached data file, you will see that Horizon Middle School continues to provide opporunties for students to accelerate in high school courses which has led to our high acceleration score.
We are very proud of the most recent Learning Gain results for our most struggling students:
Math Learning Gains Lowest 25%- 11% increase from previous year
ELA Learning Gains Lowest 25%- 7% increase from previous year
We are the highest performing Title 1 Middle School in Osceola County and are amoung the top performing Title 1 Middle Schools in Central Florida.
PLC Raw Data File:
**Please keep in mind that our raw data doesn't always represent all of our students in a given grade level.** For Example:
1.) 7th Grade Advanced students take either the Algebra EOC or 8th Grade FSA Math test
2.) Biology students scores are not reflected in Science proficiency for 8th grade raw data
3.) 8th Grade Math Proficiency does not include the Geometry and Algebra 1 students data
To see the most accurate representation of our data, please reference the school grade PLC Model data spreadsheet.
· PBIS Model School
· Gold & Silver School Award- School Volunteer Program
· 5 Star School Award
· 2017 District Spelling Bee Champion
· 2016-OMCC 3rd place Math Competition
· 2017 3rd Place in State Civics "We the People" competition
· Technology Student Association (TSA) Competition- State & National Recognition
· 2017-2018 3rd Place "Rock the Rails" Competition
· FAAE Arts Achieve Model School 2010-2013
· District/State Recognition (Chorus, Band, Theatre)
- 2018 Battle of the Book Champions Osceola County