Kiski Area High School

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

In July of 2015 our new Superintendent, Dr. Timothy Scott, arrived at Kiski Area.  He challenged us to examine our current reality and to design a system which ensured all students learned at the highest level they ever had.  Upon reviewing our data at that time, we discovered we had isolated students, teachers, and principals. Everyone was working hard, but we were not working together toward our goals.  Furthermore, our course offerings represented a culture of dividing students based on perceived learning levels early in their careers. This model did not allow for all students to become exposed to our highest level curriculum.  

We quickly learned that to ensure all students learned at high levels, we needed to expose all students to our highest level coursework.  We eliminated all multiple levels of the same courses. Therefore, we were able to focus on our honors and AP curriculums as all students were now in these courses.  For example in 9th grade, all students would take Honors English 9 and Honors Biology. This not only put all students in our most rigorous curriculum, it also allowed multiple teachers to focus on the same grade level curriculum.  Teachers now were able to collaboratively decide what was taught and ensure no matter what teacher a student had, they would receive the same essential skills. This also allowed teachers to seamlessly share best practices in their classrooms and subsequently improve learning for all students.

In conjunction with this, we drastically redesigned our school day to ensure we have time built into our school day for teacher collaboration and student intervention and enrichment.  This would be necessary to support our students as they enrolled in more challenging coursework. Our schedule went from a traditional 8 period day structure to our new alternating A/B schedule with 4 periods on each day.  On Day A, we divided our core staff into teams by the main grade level taught. On Day B, we divided our staff by core department so all members of the department were off at the same time. This created our learning teams and ensured that only one meeting was occurring at any given time to guarantee principal support at these meetings.  

This resulted in focused meetings for each team.  Grade level teams were focused on student specific support to ensure every student is receiving maximum intervention and enrichment.  Department teams were focused on identifying essential skills, creating common formative assessments, and identifying what proficiency would look like for all students.  This allowed us to tackle the four essential questions of a PLC.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our staff began by studying several models of Professional Learning Communities and we brought in Solution Tree to provide professional development to our staff specific to the PLC model.  The high school staff analyzed different sources of evidence of student learning and ultimately created our own cyclical process to monitor student learning. The teams identify essential skills to be taught, create proficiency scales, provide a common formative assessment, identify students on each proficiency level, implement specific intervention and enrichment both in the course and inside our embedded intervention and enrichment time for each unit of study.  Our staff felt it was imperative to use the same template throughout the school to ensure the focus was on student learning. Since everyone is using the same template, our teams’ discussions focus on specific student learning levels and the needed response for each student. Student learning is truly tracked by name and need in all of our core courses at Kiski Area High School.

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

After several attempts of embedding intervention and enrichment time at the beginning and/or the end of the day, we have settled on a time in the middle of our school day over our lunches.  We struggled during the beginning/end of day time with staff to focus on intervention and enrichments while still maintaining their supervision duties. This has led us to develop our program at Kiski Area called Lunch & Learn.  This is a 75 minute block of time in the middle of our school day where courses are occurring. This time is devoted for students to access support from their teachers as well as for teachers to identify students by name for intervention and enrichment needs.  Teachers sole responsibility during Lunch & Learn is to provide the support our students need. The students are free to eat at any point during this time and to seek out additional support they feel they need. The principals have taken on the supervision responsibility of students during this time which has led to the creation of multiple activities, such as intramural sports, for students when they are not selected by name and need.  Students are identified by a google sheet which informs them as to which teacher has selected them by name and need. A system has been created to ensure the support identified for students is not optional. Elective teachers are assigned to students who do not show up on their own when teachers call them and the individual students are then escorted to the requesting teacher.

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

Early in the PLC journey we realized our teachers needed to learn how to collaborate while focusing on student learning.  In fact during our first year of implementation we focused solely on grade level teams to get away from the sometimes dysfunctional nature of departmental groupings.  As the principals of the building we designed specific topics for initial meetings which included identifying functional team norms, identifying our purpose, and creating the focus on learning.  Consistent with DuFour’s Learning by Doing, we forced our staff to engage in the work of a PLC by collaboratively examining the four essential questions of a PLC.

We first started with getting teacher teams to learn the importance of essential standards.  This led to many of them having to give up things they loved to teach or felt they needed to teach based on past experiences.  For the first time ever at KAHS teachers were forced to come to a consensus on what students must know and understand for each individual unit in each course.  We then worked with our staff to develop common formative assessments. The teams had to collaboratively develop the assessments and the resulting proficiency scale to measure student success.  Teachers were led through a process to examine results collectively and study best practices which impacted results. The analyzing of results and teaching strategies quickly became the center of all team meetings.  

Professional development was devoted to improving our collaboration and teaming structures throughout this process.  As teachers identified areas they needed improvement, appropriate professional development was secured from either Solution Tree or other districts further along the PLC journey.  Teachers realized there were not going to be new initiatives or other areas of focus. The PLC process and improving our work together would be the only focus at Kiski Area High School.  

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

In addition to state assessments, we have analyzed nationally-normed data with our AP results as well as local data to evaluate the success of our learning teams.  We have loaded several files above depicting data from prior years and the changes as we have implemented the professional learning teams.  Each piece of evidence reviewed demonstrates the success of the PLC process we are developing here at Kiski Area High School.

- chosen to present at AP Annual Conference in Houston, TX to showcase our drastic improvement of AP scores.

- were recongized in Harrisburg by Governor Wolf for our efforts in school improvement and specifically results orientation

- presented our story at PA Lead - Pennsylvania's Principal Association conference in October of 2018

- presented at PACTA - Pennsylvania's Association of Career and Technical Administrators conference for our work to improve Career & Technology Education student learning.  Specifically our improved academic performance of career & technology students

- partnered with other schools in PA to help implement the PLC process - specifically Grove City School District, Greater Latrobe School District, and Burrell School District.  

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