Memorial Elementary School

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

Memorial School continues to maximize the collaborative structures within our school as the foundation for all of our work to help ALL students achieve at the highest levels possible.  Cultivating teacher leaders has been crucial in allowing a distributed leadership model to thrive within our school.  Our team leaders have been instrumental in our Professional Learning Community continuing to evolve over the past eight years.  This group of leaders, comprised of representatives from each grade level, the special education team, specialists, and our mathematics curriculum coordinator, review multiple points of data each summer to set the goals for the upcoming year (see resources).

Our teacher leaders have significant opportunities for leadership positions within our school and within our district.  Our teachers have been provided  stipends over the past few years to be the trainers within our school.  This has allowed us to differentiate our professional development for our staff to support each professional where he/she identifies areas of need.  Our staff has continued to increase their knowledge-base and we have been able to focus on the areas that are going to move our school and district forward.  We have provided opportunities for teachers to coach others in the work we are doing. 

This is especially true with our competency work.  Our teachers have been highlighted as experts at multiple conferences, detailing the process we engaged in implementing competency education and sharing their work.  The number of teachers in our school who have held some sort of leadership position on a committee, as a trainer, or as a team leader is over 70%.  This shared leadership allows every member of our staff to be responsible for the learning of ALL. 

Last year our school and district were chosen to be a part of New Hampshire's PACE (Performance Assessment for Competency Education) initiative.  This first-of-its-kind accountability waiver allowed teacher-created performance assessments to be an indicator (in many grade levels, in place of standardized assessments) of proficiency. 

Our work as a Professional Learning Community has enhanced our ability to implement a competency-based educational system within our school.  A guaranteed and viable curriculum is imperative for our students, and our teachers have worked over the past six years to identify the power standards and competencies that our students need to understand and demonstrate their proficiency of.  The performance assessments that our teachers are creating (see resources) are examples of this work.  Students are required to demonstrate their understanding of these skills and concepts by transferring this learning across content areas, truly requiring DOK 3.

This entailed a tremendous amount of work on our teachers' part, yet we were able to successfully accomplish what we set out to because of our commitment to, and experience with, working as a  professional learning community. This past summer, we developed goals specific to the creation of performance assessments, knowing we would be deeply engaged in this work as part of PACE. Grade levels also identified specific areas of focus within their grade level based upon data for their students. 

Additionally, our vertical PLC work has been vital to increase shared knowledge within and among grade levels.  Currently we are focusing on three specific power standards within the Reading Literature domain to determine how what we are doing at each grade level builds upon itself (see resources).   We will examine the performance assessment data in January and develop a data cycle to ascertain not only the students needing additional support/extension, but precisely what this intervention and extension will consist of.

Our continued reflection within our Professional Learning Community allows us to refine our practice, as we constantly look for ways to continue to help the students within Memorial School grow and learn at higher levels.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our teachers continue to meet multiple times weekly to assess student learning. Originally, we had to outline when data meetings would occur.  Now they occur throughout the week, many times on an informal basis because our teachers recognize the advantage to this ongoing communication and dialogue regarding students' needs.  During the formal, weekly PLCs, teachers group students based upon the results of the most recent common assessment, or based upon other formative measures. There are multiple groups and opportunities for skills to be retaught. Our work as a standards and competency-based system has allowed our teachers access to a wealth of very focused and pertinent data for each student.

As part of the PLC process, teachers assess their grade-level goals in January and of June of each school year. The attached Grade 2 reporting sheet (see resources) demonstrates the process the teams undertake to assess where they were in relation to the goals they had set at the beginning of the year. As you can see, the goals are aligned.  Individual goals support team goals.  Team goals support our school goals, and our school goals support the district goals.  This allows our focus to remain aligned, and for all of our work to be consistent with our greater vision for how we are all responsible for all students within our school.

Summatively, the performance assessments our teachers are creating allow us to determine if students truly are able to apply their learning in and across content areas.  The formative assessments may indicate that a student is ready for the performance assessment, but they may not truly be able to demonstrate their understanding at this higher level of learning.  We are able to determine this, and provide additional opportunities for re-assessment.

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

Eight years ago, when we implemented PLCs in our school, we implemented a Multi-Tiered System of Support we called LEAP (Learning for Each And every Person). LEAP allowed each child in our school to receive instruction at his or her specific level, regardless of whether the student was struggling, or requiring extension due to strength in a specific area. Our team leaders worked collaboratively to build a master schedule (see resources) that allowed each grade level to be "flooded" with the appropriate human resources at different points of the day, with none of the LEAP times overlapping.  At each LEAP time, special education teachers, a reading specialist, an extension teacher, classroom teachers, and multiple paraprofessional are available to support a grade level. A grade level may have up to nine or ten professionals available for support during this time. Teachers also understand the importance of providing those students needing additional support with intensive intervention. Therefore, the groups on the “ends of the support spectrum” are typically smaller (four, three, sometimes even one or two students) so that they may receive the support required for growth. The classroom teachers typically have larger groups (although not as large as a classroom) of ten to twelve.

We are utilizing available technology through out state (Performance Plus) to track the interventions, the person providing the intervention, and the growth of the student.  When data teams meet together, they have multiple points of data available to continue to make decisions on how to best support each student in his/her learning progressions.

Specific groups of students also receive support during a Tier 3 time. These students have demonstrated a need for even more support, most often with content/standards that are not at grade level, to close any gaps in learning.

We provided teachers with common planning time daily, with one day of the week containing a double-block. We ensure that all support personnel are available during these meetings, as well. All teams within our school also do the following:

  • Create Team Norms (see resources) for each school year, with the norms assessed bi-monthly and revisited and revised once per year.
  • Create Team SMART goals which align with and support the school goals and district goal.

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

Empowering teachers has been the most successful way that Memorial School has affected change. When we began our journey eight years ago, one of the first things we did was create a group of team leaders. This team leader group was paramount to continuously reiterating our school goals and of creating an environment of “Learning for All”. Embedded professional development has allowed our staff to grow and receive feedback on a consistent basis. Ensuring a clear, focused vision of “Learning for All” has allowed our staff to revisit and reflect on their practice. All teachers within a grade level are responsible for all students in a grade level. We have expanded that focus this year as we have continued our work in our vertical teams. All teachers within our school are responsible for all students within our school. Teachers are learning from each other, and students are benefiting from the shared expertise of a team of people rather than just one individual.

We believe our vertical work has been instrumental in our staff's increased knowledge of the developmental progression of students across our elementary school.  We dedicate professional time to look at student work vertically, across grade levels, to have professional conversations about what we are seeing from students in different places within a competency.  This allows teachers at all levels to increase their knowledge related to these progressions, and thereby better assist the students in their own classrooms to further develop the skills necessary to progress.

One of the hallmarks of Memorial School has been its consistency of staff.  Although we have moved teachers to various grade levels to maximize strengths, our turnover is very low (no professional staff hired for this current school year).  This has allowed us to continue to build upon each other's strengths and work on areas of need.  Our teachers clearly understand it is about kids, and the decisions that we make together support this mindset.

Memorial School and the Sanborn Regional School District, along with three other New Hampshire districts, were approved for a first-of-its kind acountability waiver on March 5, 2015 by the United States Department of Education.  This effort is known as PACE (Performance Assessment for Competency Education).

 "PACE is a first-in-the-nation accountability strategy that offers a reduced level of standardized testing together with locally developed common performance assessments. These assessments are designed to support deeper learning through competency education, and to be more integrated into students’ day-to-day work than current standardized tests. Meaningful assessment is a key part of a strategy to ensure students are getting the most out of their education." (http://education.nh.gov/assessment-systems/pace.htm)

 Memorial School's teachers were active participants and contributors in the creation, validation, administration, and refinement of the rigorous tasks created for PACE.  Comparative data will be available next school year, as spring, 2015 was the first time these assessments were given.

Memorial School teachers were able to utilize their experience working within highly functioning professional learning communities to successfully accomplish the significant task set before them.  We believe strongly that without the foundation of our work as a professional learning community, we would not have been as successful in helping our students interact within these rigorous performance assessments.

 Our district has been administering nationally normed NWEA assessments over the past ten years.  Steadily, our scores have climbed, and we are currently well above the national norm average at each grade level.  Please see the chart below:

 
         
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
 
         
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
 
         
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 

 

           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           

 

 

Testing Period

 

Reading

 

Math

 

Language

NWEA Spring Mean

 

158.1

159.1

 

 

Kindergarten

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

165.3

161.1

160.3

160.8

156.4

 

 

165.0

161.3

160.0

 

Do not take

language test

NWEA Spring Mean

 

177.6

180.8

 

 

Grade 1

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

186.1

183.7

184.2

182.5

182.4

 

 

189.6

188.9

188.0

183.3

184.8

 

Do not take

language test

NWEA Spring Mean

 

188.7

192.1

189.7

 

Grade 2

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

198.7

197.5

193.2

191.1

192.2

 

 

198.3

199.8

197.6

195.4

194.6

 

201.8

202.8

196.7

198.5

193.6

 

NWEA Spring Mean

 

198.6

203.4

200.0

 

Grade 3

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

204.3

201.8

203.8

202.4

206.4

 

 

206.2

209.5

208.1

206.2

208.9

 

208.1

205.8

206.6

205.0

207.3

NWEA Spring Mean

 

205.9

213.5

206.7

 

Grade 4

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

211.2

213.4

211.6

213.4

210.7

 

 

218.1

219.3

220.2

220.9

214.7

 

212.6

215.4

215.1

213.6

210.6

NWEA Spring Mean

 

211.8

221.4

211.5

 

Grade 5

 

Spring 2015

Spring 2014

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

 

217.4

218.6

219.6

217.4

215.2

 

 

227.5

231.3

232.9

226.8

226.1

 

218.7

220.6

218.9

218.5

215.3

 

We would also point out, when using the NorthWest Evaluation Association (NWEA) results, the level of students projected to be proficient on the Smarter Balanced Assessement is as follows:

  • Grade 3: Reading, 85% proficient Mathematics, 98% proficient
  • Grade 4: Reading, 82%% proficient Mathematics, 94% proficient
  • Grade 5: Reading, 93% proficient Mathematics, 90% proficient

 

Memorial School has been recognized repeatedly for its work in competency education.  As one of the early successful implementers, Memorial School has been highlighted nationally for this work.  http://www.competencyworks.org/understanding-competency-education/addressing-root-causes-at-memorial-elementary-school/    http://www.competencyworks.org/?s=sanborn+regional+school+district+memorial+school&x=0&y=0 

Memorial School continues to be contacted and observed by schools on how to best implement PLC structures within the school.  Most recently, our district was recognized as one of the "30 Schools Worth Visiting." http://gettingsmart.com/2015/11/30-districts-worth-visiting-2015/

Memorial School is one of five NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) accredited schools in New Hampshire.

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