Alcott Elementary

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

Our improvements are attributed to staff more fully engaging in the PLC process to improve their instruction. Guided by our District Office, our teachers’ work in collaborative teams to build shared knowledge regarding state standards to create district curriculum guides. They work to understand the content and format of high-stakes assessments, as well as the expectations of teachers at the next level to clarify the specific knowledge and skills all students must acquire to advance.

These collaborative teams have clarified the specific proficiency standards students must achieve on each skill and the criteria they will use in assessing each student’s proficiency. They have practiced applying the criteria to ensure consistent, reliable assessment of student learning—especially in regard to performance-based tasks in reading and writing. They help students understand the criteria by putting Essentials and Key Concepts into student-friendly language and then have processes in place to assist students in using the criteria to monitor their own learning.

Collaborative teams are organized by grade level as Similar Responsibility Teams (e.g. 3rd grade teachers plus Special Education). Each of these teams establishs at least two of their own SMART Goals at the beginning of the year for which they work interdependently to achieve and for which they are mutually accountable. These SMART goals align with the building School Improvement Goal of improving literacy, which is aligned with the District Improvement Goal of increasing college and career readiness. These teams meet at least twice per week during the contract day, and notes of meetings are monitored by the Principal to ensure that they are engaged in collective inquiry regarding issues directly related to student learning.

Alcott’s participation in a research project out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s National Center for Research on Rural Education (NCR2ED) provided additional momentum towards the implementation of an authentic Professional Learning Community. In this project (ProjectREADERS), teachers were involved in intensive trainings on the use of DIBELS data, the implementation of research-based interventions, and on-going follow-up in the form of coaching to ensure effective implementation of intervention and the use of data. Classroom teachers and specialists (e.g. English Language Learners, Special Education, and Physical Education) are expected to understand and use DIBELS data to monitor the progress of students, and to adjust their instruction to improve student learning.

Even though ProjectREADERS was focused on one teacher in each grade-level K – 3, the Principal used the principles of ProjectREADERS with all K – 5 staff over the course of the 2011 – 12 school year. The following year, 2012 – 13, these principles were implemented with all teachers in all grade-levels. These principles, though focused on reading for ProjectREADERS, have carried over to other content areas. Teachers now use these principles in their PLC work—either in Reading or Math.

To summarize the principles: 1) Teachers use quality assessments based on our Essentials. 2) The data from those assessments are systematically examined. 3) Instructional staff change their practices based on the data. 4) Staff reflects upon the effectiveness of the changes to their instructional practices. As can be seen by this listing of principles, ProjectREADERS principles are nearly identical to the four critical questions of a Professional Learning Community.

Anecdotally, PLC meetings are more focused on instruction and informed by quality assessments than ever before. Teachers are modifying their instruction and holding each other accountable for improving their instruction. Charts with data are a regular part of those meetings.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Teachers understand the critical role that ongoing data analysis provides in improving the teaching and learning process. As such, they gather regular evidence of student learning from a variety of sources to inform and improve both their individual and collective practice. As such, each teacher receives feedback—as frequently as once per week—regarding the success of students in achieving Essentials. This feedback comes from common assessments so as to see how students compare in different classes on the same standard.

Depending on the skill-level of students, students are progress monitored weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly using DIBELSNext. This continues based on student growth. When a student hits benchmark five continuous times in a row or eight times intermittent, they are moved to the next prioritized skill or lower-level of intensive progress monitoring.

Additionally, students are involved in the monitoring and tracking of their own learning. Students are provided with goals based upon their performance and the level of proficiency they must attain. Critical to this process is that students are told their goal. Students are then involved with charting their progress and seeing their growth based on aim-lines.

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

The Master Schedule was adjusted in 2011 to best meet the needs of our students. In 2012 – 13, we created a schedule that allows students to have interventions up to three times per day, as well as differentiated small group instruction. There are some students who go to ELL, Special Education, and Title during the course of the day. However, given the focus of all staff on what students need to be proficient or better, such “pull-out” is not viewed as “pull-out programming.” Given that this programming is focused upon what students need, it is simply considered to be another way for the school to intervene with particular students—in addition to core instruction. These interventions have not removed the responsibility for student learning from the regular classroom teacher, but has expanded the responsibility to all teachers throughout the building. Teachers remain very much involved in the learning of students and monitor student progress towards what is essential, regardless of the intervention strategy being used.

Students at Alcott Elementary can receive multiple opportunities during the day to receive support based on their individual literacy skill levels. Students’ first opportunity in the day is quality classroom instruction in both whole group and small group reading. During whole group reading, students are taught vocabulary and concepts presented by the district’s reading materials (Journeys 2014).

During small group reading instruction, students are grouped based on their individual literacy skill levels. This is determined by a thorough analysis of DIBELSNext data throughout the year. Each student at Alcott Elementary is assessed in the Fall. This includes finding the correct reading level of each student by “DIBELing back” in order to gain a true picture of the student’s reading level and skill base. Students who do not benchmark are then validated by using multiple assessments that include DIBELSNext and Rigby.

Based on the data and the composition of the groups, teachers then work on the skills with students in which they are deficient. Additionally, students are progress monitored based on their skill level(s) by the classroom teacher. Progress monitoring includes assessing students’ skill levels with DIBELSNext, charting scores on individual graphs that include individual goals, and conversations with students regarding their personal goals. Some students may be progressed weekly or monthly based on their skill levels.

The second opportunity for students to receive support is during scheduled blocks for Title I support. During this block, students of similar skill levels are grouped and provided research-based reading interventions. Alcott Elementary utilizes a variety of reading interventions that are based on students’ skill levels and needs. These interventions may include Early Interventions To Reading (either EIR K, I, or II based on their skill level), Corrective Reading, Road To the Code, Sound Partners, and Stepping Stones. Students then must show mastery on skills prior to moving to the next lesson in the intervention.

Some students, dependent on whether they qualify, will also receive support through either Special Education or English Language Learners. This occurs through both inclusion and pull-out. The SPED and ELL staff meet with the grade level teachers no less than every other week to discuss students, their data, and specific skills that need to be addressed. Additionally, they collaborate on aligning students’ skills with the curriculum that is utilized in either SPED or ELL. Finally, students who qualify under Migrant may also receive support in the Migrant Program after school.

The SPED and ELL scheduled blocks are separate and distinct from the Title I block in the daily schedule. These blocks in the daily schedule were created to provide students with multiple opportunities for support as needed. Students who do not qualify for SPED or ELL, as well as those who do not need Title I support, remain in the classroom to participate in independent learning, literacy centers, or Self-Selected Reading.

Title I interventions are primarily pull-out. We have created a schedule that has a 40-45 minute block each day to accommodate each individual grade level. During this time, students are provided support through research-based reading interventions.

We have also created 40-45 minute daily blocks for SPED and ELL. SPED and ELL operate by both pull-out and inclusion. During the assigned blocks, students go to either SPED or ELL depending on their qualifications. Additionally, grade levels are served in the classroom by SPED and ELL staff during reading and/or math.

Students who do not qualify for SPED or ELL, as well as those who do not need Title I support, remain in the classroom to participate in independent learning, literacy centers, or Self-Selected Reading. Additionally, teachers are allowed some flexibility to adjust their schedules as needed.

General education classroom teachers do not have a role in utilizing the research-based reading interventions as they have not been trained to do so. However, general education classroom teachers are involved in the process to assess students, analyze the corresponding data, and collaborate with the Title I staff to determine what interventions may be appropriate for a particular student.

In addition, the general education classroom teachers provide differentiated instruction in whole and small group reading based on students’ needs. They do so by utilizing explicit instruction based on the work of Anita Archer, engagement strategies from Robert Marzano, analyzing the data from their assessments, and adjusting instruction based on current data.

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

There was a lot of external training that was involved with ProjectREADERS. Training was then brought back to staff on-site during staff meetings. These were led by teachers in the building who were participants in ProjectREADERS. The trainings included a thorough understanding of DIBELS data, and the use of the data to inform instruction. Training has continued during subsequent school years—using the flow charts to guide initial assessments, using an instructional coach to teach staff in using the data, focused staff meetings on data and instruction, and the alignment of school improvement initiatives with this work.

During the 2012 – 13 school year, the District re-organized the schedule of PLCs on the weekly Wednesday early-outs. As part of this, one time per month is dedicated to building-level staff development focused on “just-in-time” learning of the staff to implement the School Improvement Plan. As specific examples, one month utilized a specialist from an intermediate service agency, another focused on engagement strategies with data from the building on student on-task analysis, and another was based on understanding DIBELS data to make informed instructional decisions.

Alcott Elementary

Percentage of students meeting End of Year benchmark: Alcott/District Scores

 

 

 

 

 

DIBELS Kinder

DIBELS 1st

DIBELS 2nd

 

Year 10 – 11

 46/57

 56/57

 47/59

 

Year  11 – 12

 63/66

 72/58

 56/58

 

Year  12 – 13

 85/74

 64/65

 63/62

 

Year  13 – 14

 89/79

 81/65

 69/73

 

Year  14 – 15

 89/85

 81/74

 64/72

 

Year  15 – 16

 91/84

 63/75

 70/73

 

 

Percentage of students passing: Alcott Scores/State Scores

 

Please list source of comparison data:

 

 

 

Grade:  3                 

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other                 (DIBELS compared to District)

Year 09 – 10

 No Test

 55/68

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 Old Test

Year 10 – 11

 51/67

 54/71

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 49/56

Year  11 – 12

 74/72

 81/77

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 47/62

Year  12 – 13

 73/74

 85/78

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 74/70

Year  13 – 14

 70/76

 74/79

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 62/65

Year  14 – 15

 85/78

 89/82

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 81/78

Year  15 – 16

 67/78

 72/84

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 59/73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of students passing: AL Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   4      

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other             (DIBELS compared to District)

Year 09 – 10

 No Test

 60/70

Old Test

 No Test

 No Test

 Old Test

Year 10 – 11

 75/68

 63/75

Old Test

 No Test

 No Test

 53/59

Year  11 – 12

 78/72

 80/77

Old Test

 No Test

 No Test

 68/57

Year  12 – 13

 81/73

 93/79

74/68

 No Test

 No Test

 59/68

Year  13 – 14

 76/78

 85/78

71/69

 No Test

 No Test

 82/72

Year  14 – 15

 87/77

 78/81

74/69

 No Test

 No Test

 75/72

Year  15 – 16

 82/78

 93/85

Changed Test

 No Test

 No Test

 69/74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of students passing: AL Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   5      

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other             (DIBELS compared to District)

Year 09 – 10

 No Test

 51/67

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 Old Test

Year 10 – 11

 70/66

 51/70

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 49/54

Year  11 – 12

 86/75

 82/76

 No Test

 82/66

 No Test

 68/64

Year  12 – 13

 76/75

 76/78

 No Test

 76/68

 No Test

 60/60

Year  13 – 14

 78/77

 70/77

 No Test

 68/72

 No Test

 72/72

Year  14 – 15

 83/76

 91/83

 No Test

 80/73

 No Test

 68/67

Year  15 – 16

 80/77

 85/85

 No Test

 68/73

 No Test

 71/71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcott’s student population has almost twice the state average of students in poverty, three times the average of English Language Learners, and 40% more than the state average of Special Education students. These demographics, though challenging, are not an excuse for high performance. Alcott’s scores are improving, and are higher than the state average.

In some areas our data is improving significantly—even more than a 40 percentage point increase. Alcott is now consistently above the state or District average, whereas prior to the high-quality implementation of PLCs in the building, we were one of the lowest in the District and well below the state average. 

 

National Model School for AllThingsPLC-2013 to present

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