Sheridan High School

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

“How does SHS do it?”  That question is commonly asked by schools in our state and region when looking at the academic success of our students.  Our PLC story is one of ‘before-and-after’. Our PLC journey describes a school that not only implemented the PLC process, but started from a negative paradigm, rebuilt from the ground up with grassroots ownership, clarity of purpose, and a balance between utilizing external experts and internal processes that have brought us the answer to the question above.  

The ‘before’ phase our story begins in the 2014-15 school year.  A new administrative team entered into the journey bringing with them a PLC foundation successfully implemented in prior schools and a clear understanding of where SHS was and where it needed to go.  We had to shift the mindset of what a Professional Learning Community was, what it meant, and what it could be. To start a change initiative is one challenge, to turn the mindset from negative to positive is another story.

Here is a sample of what we discovered during our first year:

  • There was no evidence of a guaranteed and/or viable curriculum.

  • There was no evidence of common formative or summative assessments.

  • There was no evidence of a master schedule that maximized common PLC time.

  • There was no evidence of agendas being used to guide the focus of PLC meetings, and little evidence that PLC “meetings” were even happening.

  • There was no evidence of data being used to drive instruction to improve student learning.

  • There was no evidence addressing PLC questions 3 and 4.

The list goes on... We understood the challenge, accepted it, and went to work.

Our first challenge was building a critical mass of “believers” that would spread the good news!  

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Although we have been considered a high performing school, in order to improve we realized that we needed to examine components of the PLC process that were loose, and those which were tight. The bullet points below illustrate our efforts on those items we collectively agreed must be tight:

  • To ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum, Collaborative Teams focused on Big Idea One by defining essential learnings and power standards for each course.  Using Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design process, content area  Collaborative Teams worked to write well aligned common formative and summative assessments which considered the learning progressions and increased cognitive demand needed to ensure strong vertical alignment across grade spans.

  • The prioritization of Big Idea Two--the structure of time, teams, and support--all focused on our common goal to meet the needs of every student. Big Idea Two came to fruition with the development of SMART Goals for each unit of study rather than the year, and an agreed upon common PLC Agenda Template. The administrative team, with a committee of teachers, created a Master Schedule that enabled entire departments to have a common planning period each day.  This allowed for weekly PLC meetings, and for monthly department meetings by content areas all with a focus on student achievement.

  • The collaborative changes in PLC processes mentioned above has provided SHS faculty the time needed to address Big Idea Three. Writing SMART goals by unit of study rather than for the year, and creating smaller grained formative assessments to check for student understanding in a more timely manner has allowed faculty to provide more timely interventions. All of these changes have increased the data driven discussions and actions by our staff in terms of specific, targeted instructional intervention and enrichment opportunities.

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

We worked hard to create a more consistent structure to truly answer PLC questions 3 and 4 so we could meet the needs of all of our learners.  Here are the steps we took to address question 3, our building-wide interventions for struggling learners: 

  • Create Math and Language Arts two-period block classes that allow interventions within the classroom for our most at-risk learners.  Recognizing that time to learn is a variable, not a constant, this block allows us to meet the needs of our students. When these classes break out for the intervention component, we have a ratio of one teacher to five students on average, locked into the specific standard with which they are struggling.  We have seen significant learning growth from these students, especially in the math area.

  • Friday Early Out (FEO): This program allows those students with no D’s or F’s on their grade report to participate in enrichment programs like book club, game club, or computer club, while providing direct support for those struggling students.  The session has two periods of 40 minutes each where the administrative team prioritizes what classes/teachers each student needs to report to. Direct instruction and remediation takes place from the classroom teacher. The student in need attends two periods each session during FEO.  

  • SHS changed our educational approach to those students who were placed on out-of-school suspension. Removing suspended students from an external school setting to one inside of our building, staffed by a certified teacher, allows our staff to receive notification of those students placed in the ISS classroom. Our teachers are expected to be in contact with their students during planning period to provide direct instruction as needed. This expectation  has created significant change in learning for our students.

  • A Graduation Coach/Mentor Program was created to provide direct supervision for our most at-risk students in jeopardy of failing to graduate.  We make this intervention a priority, recognizing the importance of earning a high school diploma. Over a five year period our graduation rate went from 82% to 89.4% and we expect that trend to continue.

  • Success Academy, which operates seven periods per day, staffed by a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree, assists staff and students in a standards-based credit recovery program.  When a student fails a class, they are immediately placed in this program, not in front of a computer, or waiting until next year to retake the class. We identify the standards they failed by creating an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) which guides instruction from the teacher of record in order to get students back on their learning track as soon as possible.

  • Our Standards-Based Summer School program operates over a three-week period as soon as the regular school year ends.  It is fully staffed by SHS teachers in their specific disciplines and allows students to recover classes/standards they failed during second semester.  Being standards-based, most students complete their recovery in a short period of time, motivated to do the work so they can start their summer vacation! We combine this with our Step Ahead program that focuses on incoming at-risk 9th grade students.  We conduct a two-week “training session” for these students that allows them to bank credits and assimilate with the high school environment.

  • We are fortunate to have Sheridan College, a two-year community college, that we collaborate with for dual and concurrent enrollments, but also for a program that we piloted this year.  The Schiffer Collaborative School allows us to place 20 of our students into college classrooms, primarily Career and Tech Ed programs, giving our students that may not “fit” into a regular high school setting an opportunity to find success and start on their career path.  It has been a motivational success for our students to meet and maintain the criteria to attend this exciting school within a school on a college campus.

While ensuring that our struggling learners receive timely and ongoing instructional support as outlined above, we also collaborate to provide learning enrichments for all students. Here is a quick look at the enrichment side of Sheridan High School:

  • Our robust AP program and the subsequent student success speak for itself.  We offer 15 AP classes and our students consistently score above the state, national and global comparisons.  Our number of AP Scholars per capita are always the highest in the state and region.

  • We have honors/accelerated classrooms and GATE offerings in every core subject area.  We fast-track students when appropriate and have students taking second year AP Calculus BC level classes as a result.

  • Working with Sheridan College, our students are provided with the opportunity to take concurrent and dual enrollment courses on the college campus.  SHS students often graduate from high school with banked college credits.

  • The SHS Awards and Recognition page speaks for itself.  We challenge every level of our student learners and expect only the best.

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

Sheridan High School has embraced Jim Collins mantra of highly effective organizations and the steps it takes to go from good to great in our PLC journey. To keep veteran faculty as well as neophyte new hires focused on the PLC process and the collective vision that all students can learn at high levels, we have implemented the following:

  • We made it a priority for PLC gurus like Anthony Muhammad and Thomas Many to work directly with SHS staff to create a common understanding of the systematic approach needed to prioritize high levels of student learning as the fundamental purpose of our school.  We began rehauling what we had done by focusing on the three Big Ideas that drive the PLC process. The SHS staff collaborated and developed our Mission Statement and Collective Commitments. They are posted throughout our school and considered an important part of our culture.

  • Our Building Leadership Team is comprised of administrators, instructional facilitators, counselors, Graduation Coach, Success Academy coordinator, and our building disciplinarians. This team meets weekly to discuss students who are deemed at risk so that we can take actionable steps for interventions to help them get back on track.

  • We have a strong teacher induction process supported by two instructional coaches who train new hires on the tight component of our PLC process, and best practice instruction through Charlotte Danielson.

  • We send new faculty to Solution Tree PLC Conferences during the summer time as budget allows.

  • We hire out of district content experts to help content areas in their process of alignment to new standards (i.e., Next Generation Science Standards).

  • We bring in national experts in areas that our students are struggling in based on our data. Most recently, Jeff Williams worked with the English Language Art Department to implement Non-Fiction and Fiction Signposts, a research-based best practice reading strategy.

  • We have trained certain content areas in an examining student work protocol, to improve inter-rater, to identify anchor performances and/or  papers at specific performance levels.

  • We use state assessment data, as compared to local assessment data, to “audit” our student performance data analysis--are our targets aligned to the rigor of outside measures?

The journey has been difficult, challenging, and at the same time some of the most rewarding work in which one can engage.  We are proud of the work we have done, our staff and most importantly our students. Go Broncs!

 

Additional Achievement Data

 

Advanced Placement Data 2015-2017

Year Number of Scholars
2015 36
2016 35
2017 51

 

Sheridan High School ACT Scores as Compared to Wyoming State ACT Average - 2013-2017

 
                       
Year English Math Reading Science Composite 4A School Rankings
Year SHS English WY State English SHS Math WY State Math SHS Reading WY State Reading SHS Science WY State Science SHS Composite WY State Composite  
2013** 20.9 18.8 21.6 19.6 20.9 20.1 21.0 19.8 21.2 19.7 3rd
2014 20.4 19.0 21.7 19.7 21.3 20.3 20.9 20.1 21.2 19.9 3rd
2015 20.9 18.8 22.0 19.5 21.1 20.0 21.6 20.2 21.5 19.8 2nd
2016 22.3 19.1 22.1 19.7 22.7 20.5 22.3 20.4 22.5 20 1st
2017 21.1 18.6 21.9 19.5 21.9 20.2 21.7 20 21.8 19.7 1st
                       
**WDE began using ACT for Federal and State Accountability                
All Juniors are required to sit for this assessment by statutory law.                
                       

 

GRADUATION RATE COMPARISON

Year Sheridan High School WY State
2012-2013 82.4 77.6
2013-2014  84.6 78.6
2014-2015 87 79.4
2015-2016 89.4 80
2016-2017 88.2 80.2

Awards and Recognitions

  • Business Insider-Best School District in Wyoming, 2018

  • College Board AP District Honor Roll, 2017 (one of 433 districts nationwide)

  • Niche.com-#1 Best School District in Wyoming, 2017 & 18

  • Sheridan High School-US News and World Report Best High Schools (Silver Award-Top 6% in the nation) 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Washington Post-America’s Most Challenging High Schools-Wyoming’s Only Selection 2016 & 2017

  • 67 National Merit Finalists since 2000, 81 National Merit Semifinalists since 2000

  • 51 Advanced Placement Scholars in 2017: 9 with Honor, 16 with Distinction, 1 National AP Scholar (35 AP Scholars in 2016)

  • 300 AP Students Enrolled: 2017

  • SHS 2017 AP exam pass rate-62% (Wyoming 56.5%: Global 60%)

  • Siemen’s Award: AP State Winner, Teacher Winner, Student Winner: 2007-2012

  • Highest Average ACT composite score in Wyoming 2016 (22.6) and highest 4A composite (21.8) 2017

  • ACT National Award: One of only 24 schools recognized in the nation: 2015

  • Graduation Rate of 89.4% in 2017, up from 82% in 2014:  State Average of 80.2%

  • We The People State Academic Champions for Wyoming-2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

  • All State Music-largest number of students qualifying of any Wyoming district: 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Skills USA: 22 State Top 3 Finalists: 5 National Qualifiers (2012-2017)

  • FBLA: 10 National Qualifiers (2014-2017)

  • FFA: 5 State Champions: 8 National Qualifiers (2014-2017)

  • 200-plus State and National Industry Certification in C & TE

  • Sources of Strength: State recognized Suicide Intervention Group: Received a $2000 award for One School at a Time regional recognition.

  • 72% participation rate in school activities

  • State Football Champions: 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • 2015 Girls Golf Champions

  • State Runners-Up: Girls Swimming and Girls Track: 2017

  • 3.52 GPA for all athletes in 2017

  • 5 Gatorade Player of the Year Awards

Top