Newman Elementary

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

Newman Elementary started its PLC journey when we opened our doors in 2014. It became the fabric of how we approached every aspect of our school. Interviews were structured with an emphasis on hiring staff who were collaborative in nature and focused on learning and results. That same summer, Newman also sent a group of eight staff members, along with the campus principal and instructional coach (IC), to the PLC Symposium. Newman opened with more than 865 students its first year, so we felt a strong urgency to have a culture of continued improvement, focus, and timeliness in supporting our students’ needs. It has always been about our students first. When it became clear that our instructional support team (principal, assistant principal, and IC) had differing views on collaboration based on past experiences, we worked together to create a rubric that promoted rich discussion around the meaning of a collaborative-rich culture. The instructional support team utilized the 'Learning By Doing' rubrics to provide more clarity. The extended leadership team which included teachers from every grade then collaboratively refined the rubric. This was followed by discussions as a staff and each team identifying where they were on the rubric (see ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ for ‘CP Rubric’). It was stressed to teams that it was not important where they fell on the continuum, but rather that they set goals for continued growth. Through all of these discussions, meaning behind terms and processes became clearer to everyone. Even from the beginning as a school, our culture has been immersed in a collaborative “we” environment where our sole focus was on students and their growth. 

During Newman’s second year, we recognized that our staff utilized a common language and each team was effectively identifying and backwards planning their essential standards; however, teams varied in where they were on the continuous improvement cycle. We determined that there was a need for repeating a similar process from the year prior and developed a ‘Collaborative Planning Cycle’ first with the instructional support team, followed by the leadership team, and culminating with the staff refining the cycle (see attached ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ for ‘CP Cycle’). Teams placed green dot stickers on the components of the cycle they felt were consistently integrated into planning and orange sticker dots on their growth area(s) for the year. It was this particular year when teams became more transparent with one another, conversations were more focused on doing what was best for students, and there was a dramatic shift in thinking about kids as ‘ours’ rather than ‘just mine.’

At the beginning of each school year since, our staff reviews the PLC vocabulary and the individuals who attend the summer symposiums share out their newly acquired knowledge. Our teams create norms and collective commitments annually to ensure that these precursors are established so that time spent planning for student success is maximized. New staff members quickly see the collaborative environment isn’t merely words from campus leaders, it is truly the way we work at Newman. All of our campus’ planning documents, data analysis documents, planning guides for intervention and extension, etc. are housed within ‘Newman’s Resource 2018-2019 Folder’ within the Google Drive so that each staff member has easy access. Newman’s ‘Data Room’ also houses our campus’ data, vertical committee work/products, and resources that support collaborative planning. Our master schedule ensures that each grade level has a dedicated 45-minute planning period daily as well as an additional 45-minutes each two-week period. Our PLC committee also attends ‘Building Capacity Trainings’ three times a year where schools within the district share new tools and ideas that promote high levels of learning for all students.

In the last five years, we have retained 95 percent of our staff which has allowed for a deeper commitment and understanding of the PLC framework and the idea that student success is a collective responsibility. For the last two years, Newman has also been selected by our district to led break-out sessions during the summer PLC symposiums for over 60 Frisco ISD campuses. Newman Elementary’s school motto is, ‘ Every Student Matters. Every Moment Counts,’ and our staff is dedicated to making every moment count for every student in our classrooms.

For additional information about our campus’ PLC process, see the ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ posted under Resources.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Newman Elementary, we promote a culture of continuous improvement by establishing systems that align our commitment for student success with our campus’ actions in monitoring student growth. In order for teachers to respond to student needs in a timely manner, they must first be provided time to plan for these occurrences during the school day. Our master schedule ensures that each grade level receives a 45-minute planning period daily along with an additional 45-minute planning period every two weeks. Grade level teams prioritize which learning standards are essential for student success based on multiple data sets from prior years; both formal and informal means of assessment are utilized during this process. Teams then unpack these essentials to ensure that each member of the team has a clear understanding of what the student is expected to have mastery of (see ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ for samples of ‘Backwards Planning Guides’). Teachers also develop rubrics for each essential standard, which consist of a 1-4 scale, so that they scaffold instructional practices to support and extend students’ learning and align grading practices. Collaboration on these rubrics does not merely take place within the grade level team in isolation. When developing rubrics, other teams including special education and other grade levels are consulted to help ensure student growth at every level. Common formative assessments are developed by teacher teams and data is reviewed regularly by teachers and campus leaders to determine targeted next steps. This data drives instruction for the remainder of the unit and is valuable when planning for small group instruction and I&E Time. In addition to CFAs generated by teams, the district provides Snapshot Assessments three to four times a year. Our grade levels utilize a tight data analysis protocol to determine areas of strength and weakness so that timely and specific intervention can be provided to students. Our master schedule also has a dedicated 30 minute block of time daily which is known as ‘I&E Time’ (Intervention and Extension Time). During I&E Time, grade level teams flexibly group students based on their level of understanding of essential standards (see ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ for ‘I&E Planning Guides’). This practice has been promising for our students in that multiple staff members are able to monitor their growth and provide differing ideas on instructional practices. In addition, many grade levels have taken this collaborative approach to small groups within their instructional blocks throughout the remainder of the school day.

To continually grow our data analysis depth within our teams, we implemented a DRA2 Wall in our ‘Data Room’ to track our students’ growth in reading in 2018. This was implemented strategically after observing that the number of primary-aged students not meeting grade-level expectations in reading had increased year after year. We revisit this wall three times a year (after administering the beginning, middle, and end of the year assessments) to reflect and move students across the wall, to celebrate, and to determine next steps for particular students if needed. Teachers also regularly access this data to develop flexible groups and targeted instruction in the classrooms.

Our campus also hosts monthly Name and Need Meetings with grade level teams and campus leadership to check in on student performance. We ensure that each child is making expected growth, share strategies, tools, and ideas, and discuss if further interventions are needed; both academically and social-emotionally. When these students need Tier 2 interventions, we meet as an Student Success Team (SST) Committee. This cross-curricular committee meets two to three times each month to discuss students who have not met mastery of essential grade level standards as well as to offer positive reinforcement support for behavior concerns. The committee consists of parents and a team of educators including campus administrators, grade level teachers, the school counselor, the 504 coordinator, the school licensed psychologist, as well as special education, speech, and dyslexia teachers. During this time, a targeted action plan is generated for a student specific to his or her needs and a reconvene date is set.

Through timely data analysis, teachers have implemented a specific time in the day to meet with their class to discuss character traits and growth. Our staff discussions about student growth do not merely focus on academic needs. Teachers look beyond “the urgent” to take time to tackle skills every student needs to become a 21st century learner. Classroom conversations center around developing grit, communication with teachers and peers, and developing their own plan for student learning.

Newman students also develop personal goals in different subject areas. With the help of their teacher and peers, students reflect on their strengths and weaknesses in academic areas and develop a goal that is measurable and attainable. Teachers consistently meet with students to check in on growth and help to develop new goals throughout the year. Goal setting sessions have many benefits including deeper conversations with students about their data and learning. In addition, parents are able to more easily see academic and social emotional growth in their student throughout the year, not just at formal parent conferences.

Lastly, we have implemented more innovative practices in tracking and monitoring our students’ academic and social-emotional growth through a private, online, electronic portfolio program called SeeSaw. Teachers from across the campus have students post work samples and their reflections on learning. These student-driven submissions allow parents, campus leadership, and teachers  access to real-time insights into student growth. These portfolios follow students year after year and teachers are able to easily access submissions to evaluate students; further deepening our focus on student growth and achievement.

 

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

Newman Elementary has a master schedule that includes a 30-minute block of time at the beginning of the school day, Monday-Thursday. This time is dedicated to providing all students with intervention or extension; dependent on their needs with essential grade level standards. Our campus refers to this time as Intervention and Extension (I&E) Time. During this invaluable 30 minutes, students are flexibly grouped so that their needs are met through the reteaching of skills, additional exposure to learning standards, or extension activities that promote critical thinking. Teachers analyze reading, math, and writing data from snapshot assessments and other common formative assessments administered to students. Teachers reference their essential standard rubrics to ensure that the analysis of student data is calibrated and this tool also supports them in identifying instructional practices and resources to intervene and enrich students. Grade levels have adapted spreadsheets and tracking tools, such as our ‘I&E Time Planning Guides’ (see ‘Newman PLC Playbook,’) to support them in flexibly grouping students so that they receive a timely and specific response to their needs. Teachers determine which level of support to facilitate based on expertise of the content. For example, a writing teacher who has data that supports 80 percent of her students met mastery in incorporating author’s craft in their expository pieces, is likely to support the intervention group. Other experts and specialists on our campus including the instructional coach and our resource/special education staff, etc. also block off the first 30 minutes of their school day to be available during I&E Time. This year, Newman started the process of not only flexibly grouping students during I&E Time, but also during other instructional blocks during the school day as well.

When students who receive additional support throughout the day, still do not make expected growth we meet on these individuals through ‘Name and Need’ meetings. Grade level teams gather twice each semester to collaborate and  brainstorm other strategies, action steps, etc. that can be implemented to better support students. Currently, we are adjusting our ‘Name and Need’ practices so that teachers leave with more tangible next steps for students (specific resources).

Students who do not meet mastery in either academic or behavioral areas with Tier 2 interventions in place are then brought to our campus Student Success Team (SST) Committee. This committee consists of the administration, the school counselor, the 504 coordinator, the dyslexia teacher, resource teachers, the school’s licensed psychologist, grade level representatives, and parents. Through collaboration, the committee generates a targeted action plan for students which explicitly notes the type of intervention, its frequency, responsible parties, as well as a progress monitoring sheet to track effectiveness. After approximately six weeks, the SST Committee reconvenes to discuss progress of students with action plans in place. Many times, it is recommended that plans continue, are adjusted to reflect new areas of intervention, or a recommendation for a specialized evaluation may be recommended by committee members.

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

Newman Elementary’s high-performing, collaborative teams focus on improved learning for all students. Each day teachers are provided 45 minutes to unpack standards, analyze data, develop common formative assessments, and dive into district curriculum and resources. Our teams reference our campus’ ‘PLC Learning Cycle,’ which was developed by the leadership team, to ensure that they regularly address each crucial component of the planning cycle (see attached ‘Newman PLC Playbook’) and grow in their instructional practices. Our teams focus on the four essential questions of a PLC when planning:

  1. What do we expect our students to learn?

  2. How will we know that they are learning?

  3. How will we respond when they don’t learn?

  4. How will we respond when they already know it?

Our administrative team, the instructional coach, and specialists attend grade level planning to engage in these discussions and to offer support where needed. Furthermore, the campus’ digital learning coach, gifted and talented teacher, and ESL teacher are included in the grade level’s pre-planning communication so that they are able to provide insight and suggestions related to the learning target. These team members are essential to growing all students and have access to and contribute to planning documents and teacher lesson plans. Since opening, our backwards planning guides have been the bedrock of our collaborative planning meetings. These guides have evolved to include strategies that promote success of limited English learners, extensions for gifted students, and technology applications to engage and extend learning in a dynamic way. Vertical collaboration is regularly done through staff members sharing lesson plans and engaging in critical conversations in reading, writing, and math. Grade level teams have yet another opportunity to collaborate with experts on our campus (ESL, the instructional coach, resource staff, etc.) during their extra collaborative planning session once every two weeks. During this focused time, the instructional coach shares new learning for approximately 10-15 minutes to expose teachers to strategies they can directly apply in the planning process and instructional time.

Collaboration does not end there. Our staff not only works collaboratively within grade level teams, but vertically as well. Newman has established vertical committees in reading, math, and writing. Subject leaders from each grade and resource teachers meet once a month to review our campus SMART goal data, develop strategies/plans for continued improvement, and plan professional development opportunities to share new information with the rest of the Newman staff (see attached ‘Newman PLC Playbook’ for ‘Campus SMART Goal Templates’). Teams also develop resources to better improve instruction, intervention and extension, as well as data analysis. Furthermore, teachers, parents, and community partners serve on our Campus Improvement Team where we generate school-wide goals related to health and wellness, safety and security, academic achievement, and extracurricular activities for our students.

These high performing teams at Newman make student achievement a priority. Collaboration happens beyond scheduled meetings and is deeply rooted in Newman’s culture. Conversations about student growth, best practices, and continual improvement are a part of who Newman is. Each staff member faithfully makes every moment count to ensure high levels of learning occur for every student in our building.

 

School Year 2016-2017:

PTA Rewards

  • Head Start Reward
  • Early Bird Reward
  • Fall Increase Reward
  • Fall Honor Roll 500+ Club Reward
  • President's List Reward
  • Spring Increase Reward
  • Voice for Every Child: Gold Reward
  • Golden Apple Reward
  • MARS Reward

2017 State Distinctions

  • Accountability Rating - 'Met Standard'
  • Distinction Designations - Academic Achievement in Mathematics and Top 25% Student Progress

School Year 2017-2018:

PTA Rewards

  • Head Start Reward
  • Voice for Every Child Reward 
  • Golden Apple Reward 
 
2018 State Distinctions
  • Science Distinction
  • TXSCHOOLSORG - Overall: Met Standard (93/100), Student Achievement (94/100), School Progress (89/100), and Closing the Gap (92/100)
 
 
School Year 2018-2019:
 
PTA Rewards
  • Head Start Reward
  • Early Bird Reward
  • Fall Increase Reward
  • Honor Roll 500+ Club Reward
  • President's List Reward
  • Golden Apple Reward
  • MARS Reward
  • Student Membership President's Challenge Reward
 
Other Awards/Recognitions:
  • A+ Rating by Texas School Guide
  • A+ Rating by Niche School Rankings (Rated Top 1% of Schools)
  • 10/10 Rating on Greatschools.org 

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