Welchester Elementary

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

Welchester’s mission is to inspire innovators and lifelong learners to be successful contributors in a global community.

Before we became a school committed to the 3 Big Ideas of PLC’s(2012-2013), our overall accountability rating from the Colorado Department of Education placed us in Improvement status.  At that time, the district had a Federal TIF grant that funded collaboration, additional coaching support and pay for performance in 20 schools. The 5 year grant sought to determine the impact on student achievement. Following that work, Welchester focused on PLC’s  as the school’s improvement initiative to increase student achievement. Our journey began by attending the PLC @ Work Institute with Solution Tree as a guiding coalition in the Fall of 2014. That year, our district contracted with Dr. Thomas Many to go deeper into the work. Our principal,  instructional coach, and members from our guiding coalition attended these trainings and helped initiate more effective structures for PLCs in our school. Using the 3 Big Ideas and the 4 questions that are the foundation of PLCs, we began to build a systemic,collaborative culture focused on meeting the needs of all students at Welchester.

The focus of our work was to educate staff and create systems that ensure educational equity. Teachers were provided seven (7) planning days with their team which was facilitated by the instructional coach. The goal was to build teacher capacity around effective lesson design and to execute research-based instruction for all students.  

Our guiding coalition was then charged with creating a yearly assessment calendar, master schedule and pyramid of interventions to provide a system of school wide supports. Following this work, we realized we needed to prioritize our budget in order to have the resources, personnel and supports to accomplish the goals we identified as a school to take collaborative teams further the following year.  

In 2015-16, we were designated Title 1, so we received additional resources. We hired a full time interventionist who also coached teams in the PLC process.  We were better able to established coaching/facilitations supports to all teams which allowed us to better monitor and adjust the work of teams.

Having collaborative structures in place, we began to refine these practices with our guiding coalition and district team to create a PLC Implementation Continuum.

With staff turnover, every year we develop a collective philosophy around “all kids can learn” and realize how important teacher ownership is within collaborative teams.

In 2017-2018 we had the opportunity to share our learning and work with other schools in the district as a Site Visit School. This was organized and facilitated by all members of the guiding coalition which built capacity and boosted morale and engagement with the work.

Today, Welchester is proud to be identified as a performance school.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The process Welchester uses to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students begins with teams identifying the essential learnings within each unit of study using the REAL Criteria and accessing the school-wide prioritized standards. This is documented in the PLC planning templates.

Teams collaboratively build a range of assessments as soon as they have identified the essential standards and proficiency levels for a unit during a dedicated time to meet in collaborative teams. All of the assessments are focused on the prioritized standards, and team members negotiate what constitutes proficiency at each level (i.e., not progressing, progressing toward, on grade level and above grade level), and each time assessments are crafted, the team calibrates their administration and scoring prior to grading to make sure results are standardized.

For each unit, a pretest (based on prerequisites) that teams use previous and successive grade level essential learning targets is created to provide information on where a student is entering the learning. Daily exit tickets are created to monitor progress on daily learning targets. Common Formative Assessments (CFAs) are created and scheduled after every major block of learning, which usually falls around a 9 to 1 cycle (9 days of instruction to 1 day that allows for flexibility for intervention or extension of core). This allows teachers to reteach core, provide intervention or remediation or accelerate students as needed to meet each student’s goal. Finally, a post-test is administered to make sure that students have retained the information learned throughout the unit.

Teams seamlessly move through the PLC 4 questions. Grade level teams pair with other stakeholders which includes but is not limited to an instructional coach, speech and language pathologist, literacy interventionist/s, special education content teacher/s, paraprofessionals, and English as a Second Language teacher. While meeting with all stakeholders, clarity, and purpose are established through systematically using the four questions to guide conversations around: student grouping, student current and future achievement, the delivery of core instruction using the district’s curriculum resources, and intervention or extension instruction.

Collaborative teams use data throughout their work in many ways. Teams use a data protocol in order to group students based on prerequisite skills of common formative assessments administered at the start of each unit.

To make the most of our time, each team creates an agenda and calendar that outlines when instruction and assessments will occur, when grading of assessments will be calibrated and when data will be reviewed to make sure that data is analyzed in the most timely way.  

In addition to unit specific assessments, there are several school-wide assessment and progress monitoring tools used with fidelity by all teams, including the K-2 Numeracy, K-6 DIBELS and TRC, Math End-of-Year assessment and grades 2-6 administer Measure of Academic Progress (MAP).

All of the data collected is shared with and analyzed by all stakeholders, including leadership, specialists, special education providers, students and their families. It is shared schoolwide through Google Spreadsheets and also displayed in our Collaboration Room, by content and type of assessment (formative, summative, school, district and state) for all teachers to see and give feedback.  The data sheets, like the unit planning template, are common to all grade levels. Data also is displayed in a confidential manner for students and families, and we regularly check in with students about their goals.

At each checkpoint (pretest, exit tickets, mid-unit assessments, posttests, progress monitoring, etc.), data is analyzed by the team to impact both classroom instruction and identify students for remediation, intervention, review and acceleration. A common protocol for team-created assessments is the “Here’s What, So What, Now What?” We use the DIBELS norms for district red and yellow students throughout sixth grade. Based on the data, students are placed in interventions or extension identified within the pyramid of intervention. This allows for a multi-tiered system of support to reach all students. Teachers monitor the progress of students and effectiveness of the interventions through our MTSS process. Our MTSS is a prevention-based framework of team-driven data-based problem solving for improving the outcomes of every student through family, school, and community partnering and a layered continuum of evidence-based practices. (CDE website) Students identified as not making adequate progress will be escalated to our problem solving team.  

Finally, throughout the unit, teams reflect on what is working and what needs to change the next time the unit is taught, adding to the “Keep, Drop, Create” protocol that we complete at the end of each unit as a team.

 

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

Welchester has adopted a structured workshop model in Reading, Writing, and Math. Student data is constantly analyzed during the PLC process with flex days strategically planned into each unit of study to allow time for reteaching. This ensures effective Tier 1 prevention/intervention. Welchester has intervention blocks called WIN (“What I Need”)that are scheduled and carefully planned to allow for intervention or enrichment for all students. This is a 30 minute block for reading and math, where classroom teachers, inventionists, learning specialists, ESL Teacher and instructional paraprofessionals provide necessary supports for all students. During this time, teachers share students to maximize instructional time and supports. Our school has created a Pyramid of Interventions for reading, math, and behavior to be systematically implemented by all staff.  This provides a clear decision making model to follow for identifying needs. Resources and programs are systemically recommended for teachers to use, depending on student data. Teams use data protocols in order to identify specific student needs. Common Formative Assessments are given and carefully analyzed to create WIN blocks. Instructional plans are created based on needs and carried out in a 4-6 week cycle. Students are carefully progress monitored to track growth and address any gaps.

Students are placed in Tier 1,2, or 3 based on CFAs and assessments given.

Welchester has always valued the social and emotional development of students. In addition to academic supports for students, it is important to also provide social and emotional tiers of support by creating and using a pyramid of intervention for behavior. We have budgeted for a full time social worker and mental health services in order to ensure implementation of effective Tier 1 and 2 supports.

 

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

Welchester is committed to building and maintaining a collaborative culture. High-performing collaborative teams chisel time so that both students and teachers learn at high levels. In order to reach these goals, we have allocated our budget to prioritize weekly 90 minute for collaborative teams,which occur during the contracted teacher school day, intervention blocks of 25 minutes in reading and math, and a calculated master schedule that incorporates the importance of times for teams and services for all students. In order to successfully implement these priorities, we have added and budgeted for 2.5 math and literacy interventionist, kindergarten paras, and instructional paras. Welchester has always had professional paras, however as we shifted our priorities, we recognized their capabilities and trained them in interventions resources and best practices so that we could use them as instructional paras instead of teacher aids.In addition we budgeted for additional sessions for music, PE, and art so that we could provide additional access to enrichment opportunities for students and to create a weekly 90 minutes collaborative team block for all teachers.

Welchester has always had a full time instructional coach. Two years ago, we added another half time instructional coach to further deepen and build capacity in collaborative teams. A coach is assigned to every grade level team. During the PLC process, coaches guide, provide feedback and support to grade level teams utilizing data and goal setting protocols. Outside the structured PLC process, the collaborative conversations that occur within that time creates opportunities for coaching cycles and job embedded professional learning structures as teachers and teams reflect on student data.  During the 2017-2018 school year, we added collaborative team time for our enrichment team, special education team, and teacher of our autism classroom to accomplish our school goals and improve student achievement for all students.

At Welchester, teams come together in our Collaboration Room. This space offers many resources such as: visible data, team agendas, continuums and a space to work collaboratively. Collaborative teams co-create norms and PLC agendas to communicate with all stakeholders supporting students, so that their instruction can have a high impact on student learning and align with grade level and school prioritized needs.

To align our work with our school-wide goals,throughout the year each team developed SMART goals based on the PLC Implementation Continuum in which they identified strengths and areas of need to push their collaborative practices forward. In addition, coaches used these goals to provide feedback, offer coaching cycles, and provide optional professional learning to meet their professional needs. Coaches conducted walk-throughs around school initiatives and provided weekly feedback by email.

To continue to build capacity in the building as new staff members join the team, the instructional coaches work alongside new teachers to effectively implement the Welchester TIGHTS.   

To build capacity in the building, almost every grade member is on the guiding coalition team. The guiding coalition team has attended trainings and have presented the learning to the staff. This is important because it promoted teacher ownership. In addition, our school participates in instructional rounds and lesson studies to progress monitor our school goals and our 100 Day Plan.

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

**2015 not included, as PARCC was a new assessment and growth data could not be computed. Additionally, in 2017-18 Welchester was a welcoming school for approximately 75 students who joined us from a high poverty school that was closed.

 

In 2017-18, Welchester was identified by district staff as a district PLC process and collaborative team site visit school.

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