Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54

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

Our PLC journey began in the summer of 2005, when all administrators read “Whatever it Takes” and attended staff development on PLCs facilitated directly by Dr. Rick DuFour and Becky DuFour. This two-day training proved to be critical in ensuring a common vocabulary and shared understanding of the PLC framework was in place across District 54. In addition to small school teams from all buildings, SEA and SEEO union leadership were invited to participate in this initial training to clarify concerns and solidify an understanding of the direction our district was heading. Many administrators immediately took the information to their buildings and started book clubs and other professional development opportunities.

The first step to forming collaborative teams is having all staff members involved in drafting the mission, vision, collective commitments and goals. At a district level, a Board Goals Committee was created during the 2006-07 school year to write such a document. This committee included board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, community members and students. In addition to offering input, committee members were responsible for sharing information with their colleagues as the mission, vision, collective commitments and goals were being developed.

The new mission became the foundation for the next steps. A Goals Communication Committee was formed to ensure that all staff members, parents and students were aware of the new mission, vision, collective commitments and goals. The mission of a school district is essential to its success – however, that only holds true if all stakeholders understand and embrace that mission.

As part of this process we also adopted three goals for the district. One of these goals was that “At least 90% of all students will meet or exceed standards in reading and math as measured by both district and state assessments.”

As more of our schools have met, or are on their way to meeting this goal, they have participated in audits conducted by Rick DuFour, Becky DuFour and Tom Many. These audits have shown that District 54 is succeeding in providing professional learning communities that have positive impacts on students and staff. Each audit did offer some suggestions for improvement. Rather than view the audit as something critical of their hard work, staff has embraced the suggestions. Working as a PLC, our staff members understand that assessment is a valuable tool in ensuring success, not only for students but for them as educators. Therefore, the audits have had a positive impact on our students as we gathered feedback to further our mission of ensuring student success. In addition, the audits demonstrate how PLCs have had a positive impact on our staff, who now view the feedback objectively rather than emotionally and use the advice to better support students.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

In Illinois, all students in third through eighth grade take the PARCC test each April. Results are often not available until the fall. In order to provide our staff with more timely assessment data, District 54 began administering the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment to students in kindergarten through eighth grade three times each year in mathematics and reading.

This adaptive, computerized assessment precisely identifies a student’s strengths and areas where he needs further assistance. Teachers receive immediate feedback (within 24 hours), allowing them to provide appropriate instruction for each individual child. By administering MAP three times each year, we can measure a child’s growth over the course of the year. The results help us tailor instruction to the individual student, and also provide data for the school and the district to evaluate the programs and curriculum we have in place.

In addition, school PLC teams have developed common assessments that test student’s progress toward meeting our District 54 Essential Outcomes. Teachers use many tools including common assessments and reading unit checkpoints; rubrics to assess math exemplars and writing portfolios; and matrixes to seek commonalities in skill growth and areas of weaknesses.

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

The first step in creating effective systems of intervention is establishing a shared set of beliefs. In District 54, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, disability, or language, we believe all students must master our grade level curriculum. While District 54 has long embraced site-based management, the District 54 administration has established loose and tight expectations for our intervention and extension blocks.

Students are not allowed to be pulled out of the literacy or math block during initial instruction. All students remain in the classroom with their teachers when the core curriculum is taught and receive additional literacy or mathematics instruction during another part of the school day. These blocks are typically scheduled through our master schedules to enable schools to flood support so student to teacher ratios are reduced for our most struggling students.  It also allows for purposeful extension for our highest performing students.  

In 2008 District 54 adopted its Response to Intervention (RtI) plan. The key to RtI is simple: If we provide quality instruction, with all of our personnel supporting all children, and do this early, we will meet our District 54 goal of getting all students to grade level in reading and math.  

Research states that implementing an RtI process through scientifically based early reading programs, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and early intervening services reduces the need to label children with learning and behavioral needs. RtI identifies struggling learners early and uses data to drive the decisions made about all students.

In School District 54, the RtI process is divided into three tiers of intervention.

Tier I

In Tier I, all students receive high-quality, scientifically based instruction, differentiated to meet their needs in the general education classroom. MAP and common formative assessments identify students who may be at-risk for academic difficulties and those students are provided small group differentiated support. We have found about 80 to 90 percent of students are successful in the core curriculum when it is implemented effectively. Resource teachers push into the classroom to assist with students who need additional support so they never miss new initial instruction.

Tier II

In Tier II, students not making adequate progress in the core curriculum are provided small-group, supplemental instruction in addition to the time allotted for core instruction. Tier II instruction includes strategies and programs designed to supplement, enhance and support Tier I. Teachers monitor student progress frequently using multiple assessments, such as common assessments, curriculum-based measurement, running records, fluency and behavioral data.

Tier III

In Tier III students receive intensive, strategic, supplemental instruction specifically designed and customized to meet the student’s needs. This instruction which targets the student’s skill deficits, is delivered in a small-group or 1:1 that is extended beyond the time for Tier I and Tier II. Progress is monitored even more frequently than in Tier II to determine the impact of the intervention on the student’s learning.

Each school has set two 30-minute intervention and extension blocks each day for every grade level. During this time, students across a grade level are regrouped based on the instructional needs identified by the data from common assessments and from other reliable student data. Students in need of additional support work with  teachers in small group settings who have the training and expertise to accelerate learning for our most struggling learners. Students who have mastered the identified skill receive extension from gifted or classroom teachers.  

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

Another way District 54 ensures teachers work collaboratively is by providing them with the time to do so. District 54 dismisses students 30 minutes early every Wednesday so that staff can have additional time to meet to monitor student progress, develop common assessments and discuss appropriate interventions and enrichment. In addition, each school was charged with creating a master schedule that allowed for team collaboration. All schools have found time for grade-level meetings by sending an entire grade level to fine arts classes at the same time (art, music and PE) so grade level teachers can collaborate for 2-4 hours per week.  At the junior high level, departments are available once a day each day to collaborate around the four key questions of a PLC.  

District 54 has provided our staff the tools they need to effectively collaborate. Every staff member in District 54 has participated in 1-2 days of training around our work as a PLC.  New staff receive half day trainig at induction week and are immediately enculturated into our collaborative processes.  While the administration began this process back in 2005, it is the staff members who are encouraging their colleagues to embrace the PLC ideology. 

District 54 uses a taskforce structure to create, update, and refine our essential outcomes accross every grade level and course.  Teams of teachers from all 28 schools work together with our assistant superintendent of teaching and learning to clarify what all students need to know and be able to do. These outcomes are written by groups of teachers and administrators and are based on the Illinois Learning Standards. Before our district established these outcomes, teachers were unclear as to what each student was expected to achieve by the end of each grade level. Now the expectations are collaboratively developed and shared with all staff, parents and students. 

Collaborative teams in District 54 focus on the four key questions of the PLC.  Question one (What do all students need to know and be able to do?) focuses team conversations on the essential outcomes every student must master.  Question two (How will we know if they learned it?) drives team reflection on common formative assessments.  Questions three (How will we intervene for students who don't learn our essential outcomes?) drives discussion on our action steps to support our struggling learningers.  Question four (How will extend for students who already know our essential outcomes?) leads our team to discuss strategies to enrich for our highest learners.  These foci drive our collaborative processes and have been the driving force for student learning growth.  

The following table demonstrates Schaumburg DIstrict 54's state ranking based on Illinois assessments since 2009. In 2009 District 54 was about the 250th ranked district in Illinois and is now ranked in the top 50 districts, amongst districts in far more affluent areas.   

Illinois Statewide Percentile Ranking on PARCC/ISAT Over Time

Year

State Percentile

2009

73rd

2010

79th

2011

81st

2012

82nd

2013

86th

2014

86th

2015

93rd

2016

95th

2017

95th


District 54 is the largest elementary school district in the state of Illinois featuring a diverse collection of 28 schools. Prior to the implementation of PLC principles, there was tremendous variance in schooling experiences for students across the district. PLCs have been instrumental in bringing the entire school system into focus and in providing students with the educational experiences they truly need in order to be successful. Today, more than ever, District 54 is living up to its credo of “Ensuring Student Success.” PLC implementation has been the number one factor in our resurgence.


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  • Student achievement on the PARCC assessment demonstrated District 54 is performing in the top 5% of all districts in Illinois. District 54 has grown from the 72nd in 2009 to the 95th percentile in 2017. Academic achievement in both math and reading are nearly double the state average.
  • The University of Stanford and the New York Times found District 54 to be in the top 2% of all schools in America in student growth – the highest public school in the area. 
  • District 54 has been visited by many districts from across the country and around the world for our cross-cutting work in the areas of Professional Learning Communities, School Improvement Processes, STEM, Dual Language, Inclusion, and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. District 54 has also been featured in multiple publications and best-selling education books over the last decade. 
  • Money Magazine ranked Schaumburg the 9th best place to live in America, with education being a major factor.  Chicago Magazine ranked 11 District 54 schools in the top 20 elementary schools in suburban Cook County.
  • District 54 has received nine Blue Ribbon Awards from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • We continue to focus on collaborative processes with 10 successful years of Professional Learning Community implementation.  District 54 continues to be recognized as an All Things PLC district, one of twelve in America.
  • Our budget has been balanced with zero debt since 2011 while also maintaining a per pupil spending cost close to the state average.  District 54 earned both a Aaa rating from Moody’s Investment Service and the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International for at least 20 years in a row.
  • Our focus remains on early intervention and prevention with the building of an Early Learning Center (2014) and offering free, full-day kindergarten for all since 2015.  The Early Learning Center has earned three different Awards of Excellence since its inception. 
  • We remain focused on the development of the whole child through extracurricular clubs, activities, athletics, band, orchestra, social-emotional learning and student goal setting. We have expanded STEM offerings to all schools including GEMS, Rocketry, Coding and FUSE clubs
  • District 54 has open enrollment schools including dual language in Spanish and Japanese, Chinese immersion, sign language, and a community school.  Our English-Spanish dual language schools were named International Spanish Academies by the Ministry of Education in Spain. Delegates from Spain, Japan, and Taiwan have visited our model programs in the last two years. 
  • District 54 Professional Learning Communities is included in the new Magna Best Practices Database by the American School Board Journal (one of 85 high-scoring programs selected from more than 340 nominations this year). The Magna Best Practices Database provides the education world with a resource for innovative best practices, proven and practical solutions for big and small district problems, and new ideas. The database is available online at www.asbj.com/magna.
  • District 54 staff have won multiple Those Who Excel Awards – presented by the Illinois State Board of Education.

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