Willow Grove Early Learning Center

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

The PLC journey began over a decade ago in all of the District 96 schools. District leadership began researching and learning about the components of effective practices and components of systems operating as a professional learning community. The district worked on developing a common mission, vision, values and goals to guide our work. A focus on the four critical questions led us to understand how important a guaranteed and viable curriculum was needed. District content teams worked to develop the common set of targets for each subject area in every grade. From these targets we understood the need to write appropriate assessments (formative and summative) to measure the attainment of the identified targets. From this data, we were more prepared to identify students who needed extra support and those that needed opportunities for extension and/or acceleration. Over the years, we have continued to revise the expected targets as we have learned more, often adding rigor and higher expectations for our students. This revision has included the addition of leveled targets and the implementation of a standards based reporting system to provide specific, timely and accurate feedback to students and parents. The district also modified their calendar to include early releases on a regular basis for time for district content area teams and/or grade levels to meet together for consistency between and collaboration among all staff members.                                                                                                                                                                      Willow Grove created collaborative teams at both the kindergarten and early childhood level.  The principal and school team developed a master schedule that provided common planning time for these teams to meet. These teams developed norms for working together productively. An agenda is developed for each team meeting time and is shared with all team members. The principal regularly attends the grade level teams to provide support and encouragement. These teams review the upcoming targets, pacing guides and scoring rubrics. They develop common formative assessments to assess the unique needs of their students. These teams meet regularly to review data (pre-test, common formative assessments and end of unit assessments) to design effective differentiated instruction. Instructional coaches provide support to teachers in the area of literacy, math, technology, science, and informational literacy. These coaches provide job-embedded professional development to individual teachers and teams.                                                                                      

To support new teachers in our system, the district provides five days of new teacher training prior to the start of school each August. During these days, new staff are provided an overview of the District 96 Professional Learning Communities work. The district has a two-year mentor program in order to continue to develop the capacity of the new staff.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Willow Grove Kindergarten and Early Childhood Center we have established assessment practices to monitor student progress and to guide our instruction. We use many forms of assessment along a continuum from most formative (daily) to most summative (annually). Initially the teachers at Willow Grove established a set of Learner Standards which identified what they wanted their students to know and be able to do in order to achieve success in Kindergarten. The teachers used the Illinois State Standards to guide the process and for alignment purposes. This Curriculum Framework is Board approved and published.
Teachers assess progress toward these standards three times a year using benchmark assessments based on the essential learning targets found in the Curriculum Framework. This process allows the monitoring of student progress as they advance through the curriculum. The data from these assessments is used to track the curriculum, assess student progress and to provide intervention and remediation.
Benchmark assessments were not frequent enough to provide teachers with information to guide their instruction. Common assessments, pre and posttests, were then developed by teams of teachers in literacy and math at the kindergarten level. These assessments provide data that drives student instruction. Teachers also use strategic monitoring to manage and monitor student learning on a much more individualized basis.
The goal at Willow Grove is to be knowledgeable about the most appropriate way to assess young children and how to best use that information to guide instruction.

The goal at Willow Grove is to be knowledgeable about the most appropriate way to assess young children and how to best use that information to guide instruction.

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

In order to guarantee that all students achieve, Willow Grove has developed a Pyramid of Interventions. These interventions are available to all students and are both short and long term. The interventions are based upon a specific, agreed upon criteria and are school wide. Learning is supported in a timely fashion that is directive and systematic. These interventions are designed to provide more time and support for students in need.
Willow Grove Kindergarten has built an "Intervention Block" into its daily schedule. During this time all staff is available to provide research-based interventions to designated students. Staff members are assigned to specific classrooms and under the teacher's direction they provide individual skill instruction to students. Teacher teams review the assessment data for students and then determine the best intervention to assist the student. The "Intervention Block" is best described as a short term, skill based experience that is narrow in scope and is based on the results of more formative common assessments. Additionally, students who are proficient can receive enrichment and extension of the curriculum during the "Intervention Block".
Depending on the needs of individual students it is the practice at Willow Grove to base intervention or remedial strategies on the results of more formative and more summative assessments or a combination of both.

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

Collaboration is key to creating systems of intervention. In District 96, our system of intervention begins with the robust assessment system based on our identified targets for each grade level course. We use Northwest Evaluation Assessment Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for all students in grades K-7 three times a year for math and literacy.  This data is used as a data point for consideration for additional time and support. All students are also assessed using CBM's to gather additional data. Our district uses the benchmark assessment data as well. Each building has a Problem Solving Team made up of many individuals whose purpose is to provide support to the individual teachers to determine steps to be taken in the classroom in order to identify overall needs. This Problem Solving Team reviews progress monitoring data on a regular basis to determine if additional time and support is needed by moving up the pyramid of interventions.

Willow Grove staff have a variety of opportunities to collaborate with their colleagues both formally and informally.  They are organized by grade level to  meet formally at least once per week.  Discussion revolves around literacy and math instruction, assessments, assessment results, teaching strategies, student goals and expectations, processes, and procedures.  

The school has a leadership team where the members represent the entire school staff. These high functioning teams work to build shared knowledge in the areas of standards, curriculum, and assessments.

 District-wide there are opportunities to meet across grade levels in subject areas. These vertical job-alike teams meet monthly to discuss subject areas and specific content. They collaborate on identifying the essential outcomes in these areas as well as clarifying the expectations at each grade level so that students have the knowledge and skills necessary for the next level.

District 96 offers a variety of learning opportunities for faculty members to encourage collaboration and capacity building. Through participation in various collaborative initiatives, teachers benefit from authentic, job-embedded staff development.

 

Willow Grove Kindergarten uses the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP), a state aligned computerized adaptive assessment program, to monitor student progress and growth three times a year. This program provides educators with information needed to improve teaching and learning and to make student-focused, data-driven decisions. Initially these results, along with formative assessments,  are used to determine levels of intervention for individual students.  Those students are then strategically monitored weekly to assess their progress.

As can be seen by the data students make good progress when appropriate interventions are used to facilitate their learning.

 

 

 

 

 

Accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (N.A.E.Y.C)

 

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