Old Mill Elementary
- Number of Students: 840
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 21%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 5%
- Percent of Special Education: 7%
- White: 89%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 9.5%
- Asian: 0.5%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 0%
In order for Old Mill Elementary to achieve the goal of high levels of learning for all students, we had to embrace a PLC "Revival". The PLC process was introduced in our district back in 2007 and initially the staff believed that we were "doing" PLC as we could check off various elements that identified a PLC. Teams met every Monday and turned in meeting notes, students would go to different teachers at a set time each day based on their Dibels scores or reading levels and test scores were reported to the principal without any conversation about why they were turned in or what was done with the results. This was "doing" PLC. Then in 2015, after completing the Critical Issues for Team Consideration survey from Learning By Doing at the request of the newly appointed administrator, the staff had to face the hard reality that we were not a highly effective professional learning community and our students were not all performing at high levels.
From there life is a bit of a blur as things began to happen very quickly. Our staff was already extremely talented and dedicated, therefore it wasn't a question of effort. We knew we needed to work smarter, not harder. Over the course of the next 3 years the staff would meet monthly to study and rediscover the value of each important piece of the PLC process, as well as the research and process behind the Pyramid of Response to Intervention. Our mission became Every Child, Every Day and each month we would study, implement and improve our instruction, data analysis, collaboration and response to intervention. With the help of choosing high leveraged common core standards, implementing various Hattie and Marzano instructional best practices in Tier 1, careful data analysis in order to provide targeted Tier 2 interventions and extensions, and coordinated Tier 3 interventions on literacy and math foundational skills that were explicitly taught and then integrated into the classroom through daily high volume exposers... teacher instructional quality began to vastly improve and in turn, so did student learning and achievement.
By the end of the 3rd year of the PLC Revival, Old Mill Elementary had made 19% gains in ELA and 17% gains in Math on the Utah State Assessment. Much of this success is attributed to the attention to detail in the PLC process and committing to quality Tier 1 instruction as grade level teams. (currently the school has 83% proficiency in Tier 1 instructional of Math and Reading as a school) We went from 17th in the state in Reading to 6th and 18th in the state in Math to 5th, compared to schools similar to ours. Our teachers and students have learned to embrace the growth mindset and that learning is not optional for adults and children alike.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Our grade level teams have chosen 12-16 Essential Standards for Reading and Math each. Teams track the CFS data for each essential standard on a weekly basis. Tier 1 Essential Standard instruction mastery and then overall standard mastery after Tier 2 instruction are closely monitored with a goal of 100% mastery by the end of the year. We also utilize the Dibels assessment in combination with the Core Phonics Screener to identify specific skill deficits and either pre-teach these skills prior to unit instruction or re-teach these skills via Tier 3. Each grade level collects data through their team One Note that not only works as a living document for weekly meetings, but also allows us to share data to the upcoming grade level the next year, therefore we are able to start Tier 2 instruction the first full week of the school year focusing on mastering the previous grade level's un-mastered essential standards. Another benefit of tracking data digitally is that teams can look at the previous years data for each Essential Standard and now "every" teacher can replicate that effective instructional practice in Tier 1. Additionally, we want to ensure that our students who are performing below grade level make the adequate amount of improvement in order to close the learning gap as quickly as possible. Therefore, we have a progress monitoring team that assesses student foundational reading skill progress monthly. We use this data to inform our next instructional decisions to help be as efficient and effective as possible.
We are currently in the process of developing our 3-Tiered Instructional System for Essential Behaviors as well, which will follow the same process as above, but focus on the social emotional aspect of student learning and success.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
We have protected Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 time for Literacy and Math, planned in our master schedule for each grade level. Special Edcuation, ELL and Gifted and Talented teachers, along with their aides, are assigned to each grade level to help provide additional time and support for grade level interventions and extensions. ELL, Special Education and Gifted and Talented teachers also meet weekly with teams to look at Tier 3 student success data and use the data to create weekly plans of explicit instruction interventions and then classroom integration of those skills for daily practice and mastery.
We also have instructional coaches that are assigned to each team. Their success depends on the success of the teachers and students that they work with. Each coach's whole purpose is to build the capacity of the teachers to build the capacity of learning for our children. They work tirelessly to provide support, modeling, networking, peer observations, data analysis, PD and sometimes even a shoulder to cry on or some chocolate in emergencies:) They are completely invested in the team and their students and are constantly searching out resources of support.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Three years ago when we started the PLC Revival process, our overall Tier 1 mastery as a school was under 70%. Teachers met weekly as a team, but during the week they worked behind closed doors with little interaction or conversation about the grade level as a whole. It wasn't that the teachers didn't care or that they were not gifted in their craft, they simply did not have a system in place that allowed them to utilize their talents to the fullest in order to help all students. We now are consistently close to 85% mastery of Tier 1 instruction as a whole school. This has everything to do with extremly high performing collaborating teams who are committed to our Every Child, Every Day misison. Success breeds success and when you implement the PLC and RTI processes as they should be done, it works! The principal has said on many occasions that she believes that the Dufours themselves would be immensely impressed with the work that these teachers do each day in the name of "ALL means ALL". They work as one unit and see the students as "our" kids, fully committed to each other's success. It is evident in everything that they say and do.