Helen Keller Junior High School

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

Keller junior High began its journey towards becoming a highly effective PLC during the 2007-08 school year as part of a district initiative. Administration attended PLC workshops facilitated by Rick and Becky DuFour and Dr. Anthony Muhammad collaborated with staff who had volunteered to explore the components of becoming a Professional Learning Community.
Over the last five years, Keller staff has fully immersed itself into becoming a highly functioning PLC, working collaboratively to support student growth and ensure all students are successful. This has come about by:

  • Reading the book ‘Whatever it Takes’ together as a staff
  • Attending PLC workshops presented by Rick and Becky DuFour. All staff members have attended and all new staff members do attend these workshops.
  • Scheduling of PLC department meetings within the school day to address the following:
    • What is it we want all students to learn? (Essential Outcomes)
    • How do we know if they know it? (Common Assessments, analysis of data)
    • What do we do if they already know it? (Enrichment)
    • How will we respond when students experience difficulty? (Re-teach, Guided Groups of instruction, intervention)
  • Articulating with administration of four elementary feeder schools and five fellow in- district junior high principals monthly to assess progress and identify steps to ensure student growth

40 minutes of PLC meeting time is built into the Master Schedule to ensure content area teachers have the opportunity to meet daily to share results, discuss student growth and to design instruction. Additionally, this year we built an opportunity for both language arts and social studies teachers to meet together to support student growth across content areas utilizing non-fiction material and informational text. (Indicated in light blue as PLC time on Master Schedule)

Helen Keller Junior High School

Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, Keller implemented a twenty minute homeroom period at the beginning of each school day. During this period, teachers act as mentors to the ten to fifteen students assigned to their homeroom. Homeroom teachers establish both behavioral and academic goals with students and monitor the progress of these goals. Homeroom teachers act as liaisons between student, teachers and home monitoring missing assignments, grades, behavioral referrals, and celebrating accomplishments students have achieved. Students and teachers alike have shared homeroom offers them the opportunity foster relationships and to work together to achieve success.

Dual Language Program Information

The Dual Language Program is unique because all students in the classroom learn two languages and cultures. It is comprised of two groups of students, native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. Each student is both a language expert and a language learner. Students enter the program as elementary students and continue in the junior high.

The Dual Language program goals are for students to:

  • Perform academically at grade level in two languages, commensurate with their monolingual English-speaking peers
  • Communicate effectively through reading and writing in two languages at a level appropriate for their age
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of cultural diversity and cross-cultural competence across a variety of social situations.
  • Dual Language students are scheduled into Spanish III as 7th graders and IV as 8th graders as well as Social Studies at both grade levels taught entirely in Spanish
  • During their 8th grade year students are administered the DELE exam assessing their competency levels in reading, writing and speaking Spanish. This test is typically administered to high school students in both the United States and Spain. 2011-13 test results indicated over 80% of Keller Dual Language students passed this rigorous exam.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At the beginning of the school year, Department Chairs participate in a Data Retreat to collectively write the School Improvement Plan which includes evaluating previous year’s data, establishing grade level SMART goals, and writing action steps for the current school year. This plan is revisited and revised following Winter MAP testing in December and again following Spring MAP testing in May. Student growth, SMART goals and action steps are presented to District 54 Cabinet members in the fall through the School Improvement Plan.

Keller’s Department Chairs also join staff members from our four feeder elementary schools as well as our five fellow junior high buildings in sharing our School Improvement Plans, SMART goals, action steps and growth to facilitate collaboration, share strengths and weaknesses and learn from each other. This information is presented to the District Cabinet in January and May with both PLC groups.

At Keller, we administer the MAP assessment three times a year to assess students’ levels in math and reading. The staff analyzes these results, using them to identify students requiring interventions and/or enrichment and design appropriate instructional models for classes/opportunities. In addition, each course administers comprehension probes and common assessments to measure student learning on course-specific reading and math skills.

Common Assessments are written by each department and administered to students three times per trimester. These formative assessments are designed to assess student instructional levels by teachers in all content areas facilitating design of instruction based on these results. To facilitate writing across content areas, one of the three Common Assessments per trimester includes a content specific writing assessment.

If a student receives below 80% in one of their departmental common assessments, the student will receive some form of intervention and/or re-teaching along with re-assessment to ensure proficiency in the skill area assessed. This would be individualized based on student need. If a student has been scheduled into an intervention class for an additional 40 minutes of reading and/or math instruction they will receive instruction to support understanding in the intervention class as well as regularly scheduled classroom period. If not scheduled into an intervention class, students may receive support in a Guided Group setting during the scheduled classroom period. Additionally, teachers are available for instructional support before, during and after school and will schedule times to meet with students to ensure understanding.

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

Prior to the beginning of the school year, students below the 40th percentile in MAP, based on at least two previous year data points, are scheduled into intervention classes in math and/or reading during the school day. These classes have no more than 9 students so that the teacher may provide targeted support to each student on the skills where they may require additional instruction. Many students are also assigned to before-school, lunch, or after-school intervention groups facilitated by teachers to focus on specific skill areas in math and/or reading.

To provide support in the regular classroom, ELL/IEP students are individually scheduled into co-taught LA/SS and periods based on ELL levels and IEP reading goals. These co-horts offer teachers the opportunity to interject the development of literacy skill development across content areas and to support the use of non-fiction and informational text. Students with an IEP which includes reading goals, and those students scoring at or below the 25% on MAP in reading, are assessed weekly using curriculum based measurement and comprehension probes. (AIMS web) All students receive individualized instruction in a guided reading group setting using the balanced literacy model.

In math, all students receive 60 minutes of instruction, which may include a co-taught math class. Scheduled 40-minute math intervention periods for students below the 40th percentile offer students additional strand and curriculum support to increase understanding. All students receive individualized instruction in a small guided math group setting using the balanced math instructional model. Students below the 40% in reading and/or math are scheduled into a 40 minute reading and/or math intervention period providing additional support scheduled into the school day in these subject areas. We have 12 reading intervention classes and 6 math intervention classes.

ALL students are scheduled into 80 minutes of language arts instruction and 60 minutes of math instruction.

Students receive shared, guided and independent instruction in each of these subject areas using a balanced instructional model.

In addition, Keller targets students who are not turning in assignments. Any student with 6 or more missing assignments at the end of a week is assigned to After School Study on Tuesday of the next week to complete those assignments. Any student with 9 or more missing assignments is assigned on both Tuesday and Thursday of the next week. If students do not respond to this intervention, the school provides additional layers of support which may include study groups scheduled into the school day. Students who continue to have missing assignments are removed temporarily from elective classes and the time is used as a study period for students to complete missing work and stay caught up on current assignments.

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

All staff members are trained in the PLC model through attendance at workshops with Rick and Becky DuFour. This provides a basis for each staff member to understand the language of the PLC process.

All staff members meet weekly during Staff Development. Content area teachers are organized into collaborative teams, which are typically department specific. The departments meet on a regular basis, usually 4-5 times a week depending on the group, and this PLC meeting time is built into the Master Schedule. Each department develops norms and roles for members. The departments use this time to plan and align instruction, design assessments, examine assessment data, and plan re-teaching and enrichment strategies based on the data.

Department chairs meet on a monthly basis with the administration to assess the effectiveness of the PLC process. To further develop leadership capacity within the building, department chairs are also participating in a PLC training several times this year with Tim Kanold, author of ‘The Five Disciplines of PLC Leaders.’

The School Leadership Team is made up of one teacher from each discipline and assists in planning school-wide instructional efforts. The SLT meets twice a month.

Additional Achievement Data

On ISAT - Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards

Grade 7 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Reading 82/86/78 89.4/91.1/77.5 89.7/92.0/78.8 84.4/89.1/78.1
Math 90/94/83 95/95.2/84.4 95.5/94.9/84.3 97.7/95.8/84.6
Science 84/89/80 92.1/93.9/82.4 86.9/91.0/81.9 87.4/90.6/79.9
Grade 8 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Reading 88/91/84 88.9/93.6/84.1 93.6/94.6/85 92.1/94.4/86.2
Math 89/92/82 89.4/93.7/83.7 95.5/94.5/86.3 93.4/94.4/85.0
Overall 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Reading 88/89/81 90.2/89.6/81 92.9/90.8/82 89/91.6/NA
Math 90/93/83 94.0/94.3/83 95.5/94.6/85 95.3/95.3/NA

MAP growth (NWEA)

2011-12 MAP results in reading indicated:

  • 68.9% of 7th graders and 65.66% of 8th graders met their growth target.
  • 52.41% of ALL students DOUBLED their growth targets in reading
  • This growth placed Keller students at the 97% nationally based on student growth
  • The percentage of Keller students indicating reading proficiency (40% and above) increased at both grade levels

Helen Keller Junior High School

2011-12 MAP results in math indicated:

  • 74.41% of 7th graders and 73.94% of 8th graders met their growth target
  • 49.06% of ALL students DOUBLED their growth targets in math
  • This growth placed Keller students at the 98% nationally based on student growth
  • The percentage of Keller students indicating math proficiency (40% and above) increased at both grade levels

Helen Keller Junior High School

MAP mean scores in reading and math across grade levels and in all subgroups indicated an increase:

Helen Keller Junior High School Helen Keller Junior High School

The Schaumburg School District 54 School Board has set a board goal that 90% of the students at each school will meet/exceed state standards in both mathematics and reading as measured by the state assessment. These schools are referred to as “90/90 schools”. Keller achieved 90/90 status in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. Results indicate increasing levels of proficiency in math with over half of Keller students exceeding state standards in this subject area. In addition, 8th grade results in reading have indicated consistent gains. Over the last two years, more than 92% of all 8th grade students have met or exceeded state standards in reading.

Spring of 2011-12 MAP, Measurement of Academic Progress (NWEA), results indicated 67.5% of students meet their growth targets in reading and 74.6% met their growth target in math. These results place Keller students above the 97% nationally for growth achievement based on NWEA norms. Additionally, these results indicated the greatest percentage of student’s meeting their growth targets in both reading and math of the six District 54 Junior Highs.

To support literacy development based on 2011-12 ISAT results, specifically in 7th grade, the following steps have been implemented beginning with the 2012-13 school year:

  • Reading intervention classes increased from 9 to 12 (additional 40 minutes of reading instruction built into schedule for those students at or below the 40% based on MAP scores (at least two data points)
  • Language and content objectives based on the SIOP model implemented across all content areas
  • Focus on vocabulary development including Greek and Latin word parts
  • Enrichment opportunities including higher order thinking and application skills across content areas
  • Family Literacy Nights have been implemented
  • Literacy connections, written by the language arts department and focusing on literacy development across all content areas, is shared with staff bi-weekly
  • Science and social studies departments administer ‘comprehension probes’ monthly to assess content specific literacy development utilizing non-fiction and informational text to track student growth in reading for understanding in these content areas; results are shared and discussed within content area PLC as well as with fellow department chairs. Pre-teaching, re-teaching support is provided to those students not at 80% mastery through classroom guided groups and instruction.

Keller has also been focusing on improving student behavior through the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). Over the past three years, total infractions have declined from over 1500 behavioral referrals in the 2009-2010 school year to 612 referrals in the 2011-12 school year. The school community continues to collaborate on ways to encourage Responsible, Respectful and Safe behavior among students.

  • 2007-08, 2009-2010, 2010-2011 Met Schaumburg District 54 School Board goal of 90% of students meeting/exceeding state standards in both reading and math
  • 2011-12 Keller had the top percentage of students in the district meeting their growth targets on the MAP reading and math tests.
  • 2009-10 and 2010-11 Recognized as one of the top 100 middle schools in the State of Illinois
  • 2010-2011 Recognized by the Illinois State Senate and Cook County for Anti-Bullying Initiatives
  • 2009-2010 recipient of NEA Urban Grant to support ELL students
  • 2008 – 2009 PBIS Emerging Award
  • 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 PBIS Implementing award
  • 2010, 2011 and 2012 recognized as a PBIS model school for United States and Illinois legislators to visit
  • 2008 to present; International Spanish Academy; one of three middle schools in the country administering DELE exam to middle school Dual Language Students