New Franklin Elementary School

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

New Franklin started down the road of shifting the school culture from teaching and learning as an individual responsibility to a collective responsibility five years ago. At that time, the district was starting to establish core student learning expectations or power standards at each grade level that would be consistent across all schools. As these essential standards were being developed, a core group of New Franklin staff attended multiple PLC institutes and found that the work of establishing power standards was essentially answering the first fundamental question of PLCs. Further, the philosophy and structure of PLCs fit perfectly into the already established goal of having all students learn at high levels and provided a clearer path on how to bring that goal to reality.

While all schools in Portsmouth were engaged in developing PLCs, New Franklin took the lead in building a successful model. Five years ago teachers started developing common formative assessments to measure student success on the power standards. They would collect and collaboratively analyze the data to share successful practices. An intervention block was introduced the following year as a structure to help build a more coordinated approach to delivering tier two interventions. PLC teams at each grade level engage now regularly in intervention cycles using common formative assessment data and structured interventions.

As a district, PLC implementation has been monitored through the district administrative team giving its own formative assessment to all staff. This assessment has been in the form of a PLC survey that measures staff beliefs, perceptions, and practices related to PLC work. Administrators collaboratively reflect on the results across schools. Teachers at New Franklin have consistently reported far greater levels of fidelity to PLC beliefs and practices and this data has been helpful across the administrative team to discuss successful PLC implementation.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At the outset of our PLC work, grade level PLC teams asked for clear directions and support in effectively functioning as a PLC. To put it another way, there was no patience for any wasted time or energy in team meetings. Each team was supplied with a detailed PLC binder, which made all team products and timelines clear, while allowing the team to spend energy on important decisions, such as what to assess and when.

These teams work on creating common formative assessments by taking the existing standards and unpacking them on a unit-by-unit basis. This builds on already established agreements to core learning. Teams create six-week cycles of assessment to monitor student progress. Once the common formative assessment is administered, teams use the results to create SMART goals for each cycle. These goals focus on a particular need evidenced from the assessment for each unit. Teachers then plan intervention and enrichment in addition to differentiated classroom instruction. Teams take time to celebrate the progress for students in each cycle. The whole process from common formative assessment to SMART goals, to student data is recorded and captured in the team’s PLC binder, which becomes a piece of school-wide sharing of PLC work across teams.

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

Three years ago we instituted an intervention block for all students in grades 1-5, which has become a critical scheduling structure to provide consistent “just right” support for all students in their learning.

Our primary area of focus during this time has been math.

The intervention block runs five days per week for 30 minutes. It is scheduled at the beginning of the day at the same time across the whole school. This allows us to utilize more school resources and create small groups for focused intervention. Classroom teachers, specialists, special educators and paraprofessionals are all involved, with students grouped with a staff member who can best provide for their needs. These groups are flexible between intervention cycles to allow for changes in student needs.

As a way of communicating this work to students and parents, we have created a pyramid of interventions chart that communicates the purpose of the system and gives parents more awareness of how we are responding to student needs through PLC work.

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

Perhaps the greatest strategy in building team capacity is to establish early on a cycle of success for students. It has been tremendously motivating for staff to connect progress in student learning with team capacity. The PLC binder each team keeps serves as a record of their success. At the end of each intervention cycle, teams complete a Celebrating Student Achievement form, which serves as a What worked? What didn’t? and What next time? reflection on the cycle.

The administratively developed PLC survey has also provided a point of reflection for team growth in PLC work. This work has become embedded in how we operate as a school and has helped us filter all of the things we have to do as a school to what is most essential for student learning.

 

The strength of our team collaboration has also allowed us to continue to find new ways to operate collaboratively and effectively. Teachers have expanded PLC work to a deeper level of collaborative planning through a process known as Japanese Lesson Study. Through this process teachers went deeper into planning a model lesson, which would be differentiated effectively to reach all students and get them to high levels of learning. In this way, teachers hone their skills in developing an effective tier 1.

We continue to be engaged in learning even more effective ways to engage students and provide effective tier 2 interventions as well. New Franklin hosted the first Summer Learning Lab program in the district. This program was a sustained effort to provide tier 2 interventions to students, while also engaging staff in professional learning to improve our practice in working with struggling students. In this program, students attended for two 90-minute sessions for reading and math for four weeks, while each day teachers met collaboratively to look at student learning and share best practices. The foundation of PLC work has helped create a norm of collaboration in the district and makes programs like this successful. This program was a district-wide effort, and allowed for valuable sharing of practices among teachers from all of our elementary schools.

New Hampshire Test Scores - Percentage of students at proficiency

Grade 3 Math (School/State) Reading (School/State) Science (School/State)
2009-10 80/76 88/80 N/A
2010-11 84/76 91/80 N/A
2011-12 94/74 93/78 N/A
Grade 4 Math (School/State) Reading (School/State) Science (School/State)
2009-10 81/75 85/75 66/54
2010-11 82/74 82/77 68/55
2011-12 94/77 92/78 68/53
Grade 5 Math (School/State) Reading (School/State) Writing (School/State)
2009-10 77/75 86/79 N/A
2010-11 85/73 85/78 78/56
2011-12 84/74 94/77 78/58

Comparison data with the state of New Hampshire for academic subject areas only exists through the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) assessments. These assessments exist for reading and math at grades 3-8,11. Students are assessed in science at grades 4,8,11, and in writing at grades 5,8, 11. Even though grade levels at New Franklin School typically contain around 50 or fewer students, and would be subject to more variability in the data, every grade level in every subject has seen an increase over the last three years. Every subject area at grade level is also performing higher than the state average given our most recent scores when that was not the case three years ago. In addition to scoring above the state average, as a school New Franklin scores are trending up at a far greater rate than the scores for the state.

What is not evident in the data above, but also impressive, is the fact that not only are more students scoring proficient, but also far greater numbers of students are scoring at the highest level, Proficient with Distinction. Three years ago 29% of students scored in this category in reading and 33 % in math. Last year 41% of students scored in this category in reading and 52% in math. This serves as evidence that not only are our interventions helping students who struggle, but we are also increasing results for students who need additional academic challenge.

New Franklin’s scores in Reading and Mathematics on the NECAP have risen for seven consecutive years (see graph). The growth we’ve seen on the state assessment is also reflected on our local assessments. We attribute this steady progression to our steadfast emphasis on ensuring learning for all students.

This path of continuous improvement has also been a model in the Portsmouth School District. New Franklin has consistently seen the greatest gains and has been able to connect those results to deliberate implementation of all PLC principles. Noteworthy in that is the fact that New Franklin has the highest percentage of free and reduced lunch students in the district. Our 2011 NECAP results led to the school making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in all subjects in all subgroups. Since this was our second consecutive year meeting AYP in all areas, New Franklin exited School In Need of Improvement (SINI) status. Only five other schools in the state exited SINI status and New Franklin is one of the 25% of New Hampshire schools meeting the states’ rigorous NCLB benchmarks.

List awards and recognitions your school has achieved:

New Franklin has been recognized locally as a leader in PLC work for several years. Some evidence to support that can be found by looking at two local articles below:

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20100513-NEWS-5130422?cid=sitesearch

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20100321-NEWS-3210338?cid=sitesearch

In the April 2012, New Franklin Principal George Shea was invited to present as a guest speaker alongside Rebecca DuFour at the Assessing and Advancing Your Progress on the PLC at Work Journey Conference in Concord, NH.

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