Festus High School

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

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are and have been a foundational part of the Festus R-VI School District for over eighteen years.  A team from the high school went to a DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) PLC training once a month throughout the entire 2000-2001 school year.  DESE program. Later that year, Rick DuFour presented to our district a two-day training, one day with the entire staff and a second day meeting with each individual building.  During that time, there was a unified book study with Professional Learning Communities at Work by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker.  This inspired the staff to start the collaborating and exploring options for consistent and protected PLC time.  One idea that became the cornerstone of the Festus R-VI School District PLC process was the implementation of the late start Wednesdays.  During these days, classes start an hour later than usual so that teachers can meet in their different PLCs. These PLCs continue to meet weekly, usually in horizontal teams of grade levels and special areas.  Occasionally, vertical meetings occur, especially in curricular conversations. Each week, the PLC facilitators develop agendas, share those agendas with fellow team members and the administration, and meet on Wednesday.  These agendas are reflective of the four corollary questions of PLCs-

  • What do we want them to learn?

  • How do we know they learned it?

  • What do we do when they don’t?

  • What do we do when they do?  

Administrators visit different PLCs each week and make sure that they see all PLCs each month at least.  Detailed minutes are collected by each PLC and are shared with the PLC team almost immediately after the PLC concludes.  These minutes include attendance, the roles of various team members, and other pertinent information. These documents are shared and are many times referenced in later years as teams are working through issues and are trying to remember past decisions.

In the beginning, the Festus R-VI School District staff had no idea the journey they had set in motion for the future students and staff members, who would carry on the PLC vision.  Even with the changes in administration, teachers, and students; the PLC culture has continued to thrive and drive every process throughout each building. At the state level, the Festus R-VI School District has been recognized for their efforts and been awarded multiple Exemplary and Sustaining Exemplary PLC Model School honors.  The PLC process is not something we do; it is who we are.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Festus High School has had a long-standing reputation in Jefferson County and the St. Louis Metropolitan Area as a school that sets the bar high for student achievement. However, when confronted with higher state expectations in 1990s and early 2000s, we understood that we would have to make long-term and substantial growth in our student performance data. Through a process of grade-level curricular sequencing and vertical alignment in our PLC collaborative teams, we originally started with creating common summative assessments.  After understanding the power and results from common summative assessments, we moved on to common formative assessments to help our PLC teams understand how our students were progressing through the units. Because of our late start Wednesdays, our PLC teams analyze data on a weekly basis which allows our teachers to make quick and necessary adjustments to their instruction and interventions. Most recently, we are utilizing a Student Growth Measure Google Sheet to quickly and easily see student learning from start to finish in one unit.  In addition, the form shows student growth in subgroups and by individual students. We use differentiated growth goals based on how much a students knows before a unit begins. By utilizing our common assessments and our student growth tools, PLC teams are able to create differentiated lessons, provide more immediate remediation, and help motivate students through goal setting. Teachers also conference with students related to these goals and the way that their goals and performance impact their progress. In addition, we correlate behavior and attendance data for roadblocks to student academic achievement so that we create an individualized plan for success for those students who need it. This school-year, we have implemented a 1:1 computer program for many reasons, one of which is to increase differentiation among students as needs are identified to address their instructional and content needs effectively.

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

Festus High School has been able to achieve noteworthy success by focusing on Tier 1 interventions with an expectation of academic achievement and best-practices within the classroom in addition to the creation of some Tier 2 strategies for identified students. Within the classroom, our teachers build time into their weekly lesson plans for enrichment and remediation.  If students do not master the content the first time, teachers give a formative assessment and split the students up into different groups for differentiated lessons. Our teachers do not simply move on to the next lesson but stop to make sure that students have mastered the foundational material needed to be successful in the next unit. Even though in class inventions proved to be successful for the majority of our students, the teachers still saw a need for another level of intervention.  Over ten years ago, we started Tiger Time, an in-school study period that allows teachers to pull in students who are struggling with specific concepts. The PLC teams collaborate to determine which power standards to be retaught during that time as well as the students who need the extra support. Because the teams are able to meet weekly, Tiger Time assignments are fluid and ever-changing. Festus High School also offers Algebra I and II support classes and reading support classes for English once students have been identified as struggling so that they can experience success in the course by building up the skills needed to succeed there in the support class.  Additionally, math organizes additional support for algebra I and II students during Tiger Time and after-school as students show non-mastery of skills on formative assessments.

 

In addition to specific subject academic interventions, Festus High School implemented Advisory, based on best practices gleaned from High Schools That Work conferences in 2009, to support students overall success through their high school years.  Students are assigned to a teacher who stays with them for the duration of their high school experience. Together, they monitor grades in the classes they currently have, make their schedules for upcoming years, and act as a bridge for students to guidance so that students feel a connection to at least one caring individual at least once a week for all four years of high school. A final inspiration from HSTW was the creation of Freshmen Focus, a group that identified incoming at-risk Freshmen to get them together for additional support once a month during Tiger Time. In that case, additional teachers and student mentors worked with at-risk Freshmen to help ensure their strong academic effort. This school year, FHS has implemented an online credit recovery program so that students are encouraged to work towards success even in the face of former failure. Just as we seek continuous improvement for our students, we continue to implement new and improved interventions that will provide results for our students.

 

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

The answer to this question definitely comes from our implementation of PLCs at the district and the school levels. Early on, our district recognized that no PLC process would be successful without school time set aside for it.  They implemented a district-wide late-start Wednesday, which requires that students arrive for school one-hour later every Wednesday and that we have a special Wednesday schedule to account for the later hour. That hour of collaborative PLC time is considered our most valuable 60 minutes of each week.  The PLC teams are focused on common goals to improve overall academic achievement by using data to be purposeful about making decisions to improve instruction and interventions. Festus High School PLC teams follow norms established by their specific teams but are driven by our building level core values of collaboration, accountability, and integrity.  These are more than just words to our building as they has spelled out in detail how each team should operate in our day to day activities. During our weekly PLC time, we use data from EOCs to identify individual student and sub-group growth, but most of our time in PLC uses locally-gathered data from pre-tests and summative or common formative assessments to monitor student progress and to strategize solutions for times when students do not master skills.  Each PLC team tracks their meetings through weekly agendas but the proof of the effective use of that time is in our building’s high scores on state assessments and the ACT.

 

In the spirit of PLCs, our building has also implemented Focus Teams that take a grass-roots approach to areas of improvement that can directly and indirectly student achievement. Teachers choose the committee that they can successfully invest in and meet with that group about once a month during the PLC time slot. Each Focus Group has to align their purpose to our district’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan and create a timeline to meeting their goals.  Topics of Focus Team initiatives cover many topics including Freshmen Kick-off Day (our version of Freshman Orientation), staff morale, and targeting college and career readiness. A cross-curricular endeavor to arise from Focus Teams is our Tiger Team Store (TTS) that serves the high school and the community. Open at times during the school day and during athletic events in the evening, the TTS uses a mix of regular education and special education to operate the business while learning skills in merchandising, inventory, pricing, organization, and customer service and is overseen by a board of directors from among the faculty.

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

During the 2014-2015 school year, our average ACT score (as well as the state average) was based only on the students who chose to take the ACT.  That year, two of our subject area scores were below the state average and on subject was the same (highlighted in red and yellow on the Excel Evidence Sheet).    During the 2015-2016 school year, ALL juniors in the state of Missouri were administered the ACT as a requirement from our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Drops in average scores were seen in the state average as well as in our school, but the gap between our scores and the state average improved greatly.  Only one of our four subject areas remained below the state average.  It is worth pointing out that approximately 70% of our students enter a 2 or 4-year college after high school.  After we required all of our students to take the ACT, we still continued to see gains in our scores even with the other 30% of our students who had alternate plans after graduation.    In the 2016-2017 school year, all of the state’s juniors took the ACT test again and Festus High School continued to show improved when looking at the gap between our scores and the states.  All four subject areas were above the state average and the gap continued to increase in the following years.  The percentage of Festus students taking the ACT remains above the state average of students taking the ACT.  In addition, this year’s graduating class has 17 Bright Flight Scholars!    

 

Festus High School takes many steps to ensure success on the ACT.  Our plan begins with a rigorous curriculum aligned to the ACT standards.  Our teachers understand the importance of the ACT and ensure that their lessons involve the content covered on the ACT as well as the types of questions students may face.  As sophomores, our students take an online practice ACT test that gives them an idea of the test as well as a baseline score in order to set goals for the real test their senior year.  The online practice test also includes tutorials and resources that students and parents can utilize on their own.  Festus High School offers a semester long ACT Prep class that helps those students who want to score higher on the test as well as a summer school course with the same intentions.  During our advisory classes, teachers take time to help students understand how the ACT can help with future plans with regards to colleges and scholarships.  Our goal is to help students and parents understand the opportunities that higher scores on the ACT can provide to them and give them support in reaching those goals.   

 

Festus High School has consistently scored well above the state average on the required End of Course (EOC) exams in English II, Algebra I, and Biology as shown in the Achievement Data Excel Spreadsheet.  Our scores are also among the top in our county and surrounding areas. We are also very proud of our Super Subgroup scores which includes the following subgroups: students with disabilities, English Language learners, low income students, black, and Hispanic students.  Although the state average data is not available, Festus High School focuses our efforts on providing ALL students with equal opportunities to a high quality education.

Other noteworthy data includes our building MSIP5 score that grades us on our overall achievement and improvement.  Festus High School consistently scores above 95% which places us among the top performing schools in the area. Our MSIP5 scores includes a focus on postsecondary placement, graduation rate, and the ACT.  

 
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch Top Workplace Award Winner (2016, 2015, 2014)

  • Newsweek’s 2015 Bronze Level Ranking of Best High Schools

  • High Schools That Work Award of Educational Achievement (2016, 2015, 2014)

  • Missouri Outstanding Rural School District by MARE (2013)

  • Missouri Exemplary PLC High School (2012)

  • Missouri State Counselor of the Year (2018)

  • Rocket Club: National Competition: 2nd place (2018, 2009)

  • Rocket Club: 2017 International Champions!!!

  • Bright Flight Scholars:  Class of 2017--9, Class of 2018--8, Class of 2019--14

  • Student Council: President (2015), Vice President (2014)

  • Journalism: SPP of Greater St. Louis Journalism Contest and Conference (2014)

  • Choir:MSHSAA State Large Group Honor 1 rating-(2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013)

  • Band:Mizzou Homecoming parade Grand Champions (2018, 2017, 2015)

  • Band: MSHSAA State Large Honor 1 rating-(2018-2009)

  • Athletics State Competition Finishes

    • Boys Cross Country - 1st (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2009), 2nd (2013, 2011, 2010)

    • Girls Cross Country - 1st (2017, 2014), 2nd - (2018, 2013, 2012), 3rd (2008)

    • Boys Track - 2nd (2014)

    • Girls Track - 2nd (2007, 2008), 3rd (2009)

    • Baseball - 4th (2000)

    • Softball - 4th (2012)

    • Football - Playoffs (2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2000)

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