Longleaf Elementary School

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

 

1.    Positive impact on teachers:

In the fall of 2005, Longleaf started the process of creating effective professional learning communities (PLC) by studying the process.  Each year, we have added additional layers and created more autonomy among PLC groups.  PLC groups are generally organized by grade level, but also by specialty area (ESE) and interest in a particular professional practice (such as student-led conferences or a book study such as Growth Mindset).  A once somewhat fractured faculty that had minimal levels of trust (in terms of their willingness to reach out for feedback on lessons), and understanding for other teachers, now works as a much closer unit, and are much less fearful of opening classroom doors to each other.  Newer teachers now have a more formal support system through the consistent PLC meetings. The dialogue opened through PLCs has made our newer teachers feel much more confident and provides a natural avenue for sharing, modeling, and collaborative problem-solving among all educators.

 

By 2008-09, PLC teams were working well together.  Teams established data driven goals for their students.  Specific professional development needs were determined and provided for individual PLC groups.  The reading coach provided support in PLC meetings as a resource and staff developer.  Teams had molded their meetings and agendas to reach their identified goals.  State and district initiatives drove the school-wide focus towards staff development in, and initial implementation of, Response to Intervention (RtI).  The process of finding ways to implement RtI took time and focus away from the goals PLC teams had established at the beginning of the year.  To address that, a new school-wide vertical PLC team formed to address the RtI implementation.

 

2009-10 brought new challenges to our Professional Learning Communities.  Budget cuts reduced the already limited resource teacher staff and downsized the reading coach position to one day per week.  PLC teams were still establishing data driven goals, but were without the resource of consistent, specialized professional development to support them.  Teacher leaders in each team volunteered to continue the work that had started in previous years.  This was significant because it showed our faculty that the power of a professional learning community to affect change is fueled by collaboration rather than just resources.

 

During the 2010-11 school year, Longleaf encountered both internal and external changes that caused our PLCs to evolve even further.  A new assistant principal became a dynamic leader in PLC meetings.  She was instrumental in keeping communication and sharing open between teams so that time constraints had little to no effect on the ability to share information across grade levels.  A PLC room was created with collaboration needs in mind.  A large meeting table with plenty of space for materials and teachers was added. A projector in the room made it easier to share resources from the web. Resources critical for curriculum alignment, data disaggregation, intervention strategies and differentiation were moved into the room to create a one-stop teacher resource library.   This was significant because it reduced time teams spent searching for materials and increased the time spent working on goals.

 

In 2011-12, a new district evaluation system was established that emphasized group collaboration for planning, sharing strategies, and meeting the needs of every student in the school.  Our well-established PLC teams made this portion of the evaluation system easier to implement.  State required School Improvement Plans were written to contain one or two main goals that focused on guiding students to become highly effective 21st Century Learners. PLC groups were instrumental in the entire staff working together to reach this goal. 

 

For the 2012-13 school year, the SIP goal focused on increasing the use of informational text in classroom instruction.  Teachers shared many high-yield strategies and resources, including ways to develop higher order questions to elicit quality discussion among students.  This goal directly supported our statewide adoption of Common Core State Standards and our need to make sure the entire faculty had a deep understanding of the instructional shifts involved in CCSS.  Professional development and new resource materials all focused on developing non-negotiable practices that lead to attaining the SIP goal as a learning community.  Every teacher in the building, including our ESE, Music and PE teachers were actively involved in this process.  This led to a deeper understanding of the importance of collaboration. Teachers voiced how collaboration was a necessity rather than a convenience, for both teacher effectiveness and student achievement. 

 

During that year, PLCs also reached beyond our school walls. An example of multiple school sites forming an effective Professional Learning Community occurred in our area when the 6th grade teachers from another elementary school joined our 6th grade professional learning community to share strategies and develop collaborative lessons in inquiry with a focus on student use of technology.  Highlights of the process included field trips to a host school for students to work together and video lessons presented between each school. 

 

In 2013-2014, Longleaf focused its collaboration on utilizing data to best meet the needs of all learners. During this school year, teacher teams worked to design and implement tiered interventions to support our struggling learners, and to enrich the learning of on-grade level and above grade level learners. Differentiation was the key word in all learning environments across our school. Teacher teams collaborated to share ideas, strategies, and materials to best meet the needs of all learners and to continue to make learning at Longleaf an interesting and relevant experience. Exceptional Education, Music, Art, PE, and Media teachers worked together and with grade level classroom teachers to differentiate lessons through content, process, and product. These collaborative experiences encouraged mutual accountability and helped to develop a school-wide support system for teachers and students. Utilization of peer observations enabled teachers to improve their teaching practice through collaborative discussions based on real-time teaching methods.

 

Longleaf’s School Improvement Plan spanned the 2013-14/2014-15 school years and focused on differentiation. The collaborative processes continued during the 2014-2015 school year to imbed differentiation as a best practice throughout our school. During this year, Longleaf changed the title of our weekly collaborative meetings to Collaborative Planning Team (CPT) meetings, to better encompass the full range of the processes we had embraced to become one learning community that shares strategies, supports student learning and teacher instructional delivery, and utilizes data to guide instruction, monitor student learning, and reflect on instructional practices.

 

During the 2015-2016 school year, Longleaf focused on improving the sharing of data to all stakeholders in a timely manner. This improved collaborative discussions that helped determine the instructional needs of students. We redesigned our data wall and increased the sharing of students across grade levels to provide specific, targeted interventions. In addition, Longleaf focused on designing units of study that utilized the backwards design model. This focus enabled teachers to share across grade levels and curriculum areas to develop standards based units of study that met the rigor of the standards.

 

The 2016-17 school year brought Longleaf a new perspective through their new principal. The new leadership embraced the continuation of weekly CPT meetings and encouraged teachers to collaborate in all areas of their professional practice. By utilizing technology, Longleaf moved our data wall to a shared data document. This change enabled all members of the Professional Learning Communities/Collaborative Planning Teams to have access to student data and progress at the touch of their fingertips, no longer having to “visit the data wall” in our designated PLC room. Streamlining this process enabled teachers to add information in a more timely fashion and the entire CPT team to monitor student progress from locations outside the PLC room. This was a significant change because it enabled Longleaf administration and support personnel immediate access to data and progress monitoring. During this school year, Longleaf again focused on analyzing standards during some CPT meetings in order to match teaching practices to the rigor of the state mandated standards. Meetings during this year also focused on professional development in organizational strategies for reading and writing since writing across the curriculum was our 2-year School Improvement Plan focus.

 

During the 2017-18 school year, Longleaf’s focus is on utilizing data more completely, and efficiently, to determine individual student needs in order to plan intervention strategies. The creation of a school-wide intervention block enables students to walk-to-intervention in whatever classroom best suits their individual academic needs. At the beginning of the school year, collaborative planning teams worked together to group students based on data from multiple sources and to plan intervention strategies. Monthly data meetings enable flexibility of intervention groups through consistent monitoring and sharing of student progress. Teachers, administrators, and support personnel work collaboratively at data meetings to determine student needs and to develop individual needs based interventions.  Longleaf continues to utilize shared data documents to document and monitor student progress. Grade level CPT teams work together to plan common assessments across grade levels to ensure consistent standards based instruction and monitoring of student progress, and students are taught how to monitor their own learning with school-wide expectations of behavior. A specialized CPT team of teachers and administrators, who volunteered for the team, created the school-wide expectations for behavior. Weekly PLC/CPT meetings include needs based professional development, academic and behavioral/social emotional progress monitoring, and planning sessions to include school-based and county common assessments. Data is analyzed for continued school improvement and grade level focus for decision making.

 

2. Positive Impact on Students:

 

Establishment and continued evolution of our Professional Learning Communities/Collaborative Planning Teams create a school climate that provides focused, data-driven instruction across all grade levels and subject areas to provide students with effective and engaging differentiated instruction. Through PLC/CPT meetings, teachers have been able to shift their thinking and understanding of quality instructional practices to embrace recent research. An example of this is the shift from differentiating by providing low level reading materials to students who are struggling in reading to utilizing complex text in small group scaffolded instruction. This shift provides access to complex text for all students while teaching students lifelong methods for decoding and understanding text.

 

The collaborative culture that continues to develop at Longleaf allows for instruction that is more equitable across grade levels.  The knowledge of a few has been shared, modeled and implemented by many, thus providing a supportive environment in which students, teachers, and administrators continue to learn and thrive.

 

Collaborative planning enables the creation of standards based learning experiences for students without excessive planning for teachers. Our media specialist joins with other tech savvy educators to lead “Tech Tuesday”  PLCs, which focus on sharing technology resources to build capacity of educators in effectively utilizing technology for communication and documentation, and to support standards based blended learning instruction.  Through collaborative efforts, the media specialist supports classroom instruction with lessons during her media time with students. This allows for continuity of instruction and enables students to experience diverse standards-based lessons around a specific topic. 

 

Other examples of collaborative planning include the science blitz planned by our 5th grade team each year.  As a team, specific areas of science are divvied up and teachers plan interactive lessons and labs to do with students.  Less planning for each teacher and the students receive a variety of detailed lessons and the excitement of “guest teachers.” The 2nd grade team uses the same idea to work collaboratively to plan themed rotations to cover important social studies and science “Big Ideas”, using the Florida Standards as their guide. Our 3rd grade team collaboratively plans an English Language Arts review in which each teacher reviews specific skills through fun activities. Students experience learning in each of the 3rd grade classrooms through a rotational model. Fourth grade teachers utilize the same collaborative planning and instructional model to review writing skills prior to the FSA writing assessment. Kindergarten teachers routinely collaborate to plan standards based activities that include going on a gingerbread hunt and experiencing a scarecrow parade. These types of collaborative planning events allow teachers to get to know every student in the grade level and students have fun learning in different settings.

 

Although not required, many of Longleaf’s grade levels choose to plan weekly lessons collaboratively. Teachers report that this allows them to tap into each other’s areas of expertise while planning standards-based lessons that are not reliant upon following textbook timelines.  This enables teachers to match instruction to the county expectations of instructional pacing and to reach the rigor of the Florida standards.

 

Peer observations have resulted in improved practice throughout our school. In fact, a teacher survey conducted in the spring of 2016 reflects that teachers indicated a significant increase (19%) in response to “practicing teaching techniques with a peer or instructional expert outside one’s own classroom.” The fall 2015 score in this area was 54%. The fall 2016 score was 73%, higher than the Brevard average of 69%. This is significant because it demonstrates a culture of professionals working together and utilizing expert resources, such as the school’s literacy coach, to improve instructional practice. The positive impact on students is impossible to overstate since this practice is the essence of a true collaborative community in which relationships are built on the foundation of mutual trust and a common goal of improved instructional delivery. The collaborative discussions and sharing that result from peer observations lead teachers to analyze their own practice and to share data that supports the effectiveness of best practices in lesson design and delivery.

 

Our collaborative planning team meetings have resulted in improved sharing of strategies, increased professional support for teachers, and an improvement in standards driven instruction. Data team meetings have resulted in focused research based intervention strategies targeted to fill the gaps in student learning, thus improving overall achievement in curriculum areas. Collaboration among teachers has resulted in teacher led professional development on Tech Tuesdays. This sharing of technology skills and strategies has helped teachers utilize technology for student instruction in more meaningful and relevant ways. Our district has adopted a new computer based system for recording and retrieving student data. Tech Tuesdays have aided teacher understanding and utilization of this system, thereby allowing more efficient data retrieval and analysis.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

 

Longleaf uses a variety of assessments, both formal and informal, to evaluate students throughout the year.  CPT, vertical team, and professional development goals also come out of this disaggregation of data.  Each teacher receives a data notebook to keep paper records throughout the year.
Online reporting systems make student data available from current and previous years.

 

Some assessments that we rely on are: Scholastic Reading Inventory, FAIR (Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading), District Benchmark Assessments (in all content areas), Running Records, DIBELS Next ORF, Classroom performance observations, FSA (Florida Standard Assessment), Diagnostic testing (PASI, PSI, & DAR), student surveys and teacher needs surveys.

 

MTSS (Florida’s Multi-tiered System of Support) requires monthly data meetings.  MTSS focuses not only on RtI in academics and behavior but also enrichment strategies for students.  PLC/CPT teams provide teachers the opportunity to look at all of the data listed above to find grade level trends and share planning strategies for intervention.  The literacy coach and the Individual Problem Solving Team (which includes the guidance counselor, staffing specialist, and school psychologist) are also involved in these meetings.  The IPST includes district and school based personnel who support intervention brainstorming and progress monitoring of students needing intense (Tier 3) intervention.  Their involvement helps provide seamless transitions between the grade levels because they have been actively involved with the students that need additional support.  Teachers are making more effective, data-driven instructional decisions now because they are not doing it alone.

 

CPT teams also spend time during meetings setting goals and topics of exploration based on the collective needs of the students they are currently serving.  Teachers look at grade level or school trends on district, state and classroom assessments to determine areas that need to be addressed.  Extensive time is spent on this at the beginning of each year to set individual and team goals, but teams revisit it as they gather more data, especially if they see trends that raise concerns in any of their classrooms. Data is used to determine intervention and enrichment needs. Classroom data is utilized to determine successful strategies that are then shared, modeled, and discussed. Data also helps determine the need for additional professional development. Through CPTs, teachers learn from each other, administration, and the literacy coach. These team meetings solidify mutual trust and provide support that results in improved teaching practice and job satisfaction.

 

 

 

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

Teachers collaborate to share materials, strategies, and students, to provide the best intervention systems in reading, writing and/or math. The following strategies have been implemented:

ESE Mainstreaming opportunities are provided for all students placed in a full-time ESE class.

Collaborative Scheduling- ESE teachers work with teams to determine the best schedule for students to reduce the effects of transitions on both the student and core classroom instruction. Longleaf has adopted an ESE inclusion push-in model in primary classrooms to allow for consistent instruction that is supported in small group scaffolded multi-modality lessons. Early literacy success is important to future achievements for students.
A common intervention block has been implemented school-wide. Teachers at each grade level provide targeted intervention to identified students.

Academic Support Program provides afterschool support to students who have been identified through FSA data levels 1 and 2, and PLC and RtI teams as needing significant intervention.  Support is provided for grades 3-6 in Reading and Math and grades 5-6 in Science.  Classroom teachers collaborate with the afterschool teacher to share intervention strategies. 

Technology resources for intervention such as online intervention programs (Earobics, Learning Today and Lexia) have been used to provide additional support for students based on the data.

Istation is utilized at every grade level in reading and math to provide individualized instructional support for all learners. Istation time is built into every grade level’s schedule and student progress is regularly monitored. Information is shared with parents for additional home access and utilization.

A literacy coach provides support and resources to address specific learning needs.  She also provides supports in implementing and maintaining effective progress monitoring.   In the 2013-14 school year, literacy coach support increased to include half time literacy coach support, instead of one day per week. During the 2015-2016 school year, data analysis led to an increased focus in integration of writing through all curriculum areas and that became the focus of the literacy coach’s modeled lessons. During the 2017-18 school year each elementary school in Brevard county received a full-time literacy coach. This additional support enables wider use of model lessons, collaborative planning, and student screening and monitoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

This is an area in which Longleaf teachers excel.  Longleaf teachers are involved in building, and district, level collaborative teams that focus on creating the most effective learning environment for our students. Teacher leaders participate in district PLCs in math, reading, science, writing and social studies, media, art, music and PE.  They share information with the entire faculty in a variety of formats including email, professional development, and CPT meetings.  

 When our district adopted the  PGP (Professional Growth Plans) and evaluation systems, teachers were encouraged to take an active role in modeling for and observing peers.  PGPs required each teacher to establish their personal SMART goals for the year based on data and desire to improve in a certain area. Many teachers chose PGP goals based on the needs identified in their PLC group, then observed each other implementing the strategies laid out in that plan.  Teachers gave positive feedback and asked guiding questions that encouraged reflection used to fine tune instruction.  This was a powerful tool for our faculty.  Each teacher received new ideas to implement in their teaching, and to bring back to their PLCs. Discussions then centered around benefits to their personal or team goals.  Six teacher leaders were trained as expert evaluators of the required PGP.  Additional teachers were trained as peer mentors and as peer coaches. This process provided each teacher in the school an opportunity to be a leader and mentor.        

There have been significant changes in our state that include intervention requirements, standards, testing formats, and evaluation systems.  Our well-established professional learning communities have provided us with a necessary support system that enables us to continue to provide quality education to our students while adjusting to the changes.  Longleaf teachers and administrators have worked together to create effective Professional Learning Communities/CPTs over the past 12½ years. Our educators continue to work together and to evolve through the process that will lead to even better collaboration and instructional delivery. Collaboration has become an ingrained part of our school culture, and we believe that culture will help us continue a positive trend in student achievement and social emotional growth for years to come.

Percent of Students Passing Statewide Assessment (Longleaf / Brevard Public Schools)

Grade 3

Reading

(school/district)

Math

(school/district)

Science

(school/district)

Writing

(school/district)

2009-10

86/79

91/81

n/a

n/a

2010-11

91/79

96/82

n/a

n/a

*2011-12

77/65

83/63

n/a

n/a

2012-13

79/64

85/57

n/a

n/a

2013-14

75/64

83/58

n/a

n/a

**2014-15

55/52

56/50

n/a

n/a

***2015-16

92/60

91/60

n/a

n/a

2016-17

82/65

89/63

n/a

n/a

 

Grade 4

Reading

(school/district)

Math

(school/district)

Science

(school/district)

Writing

(school/district)

2009-10

95/80

98/80

n/a

99/94

2010-11

84/77

91/76

n/a

90/97

 *2011-12

85/70

79/63

n/a

94/80

2012-13

85/67

74/63

n/a

68/55

2013-14

76/65

72/62

n/a

56/47

**2014-15

55/52

53/50

n/a

n/a

***2015-16

76/57

80/60

n/a

n/a

2016-17

76/58

77/61

n/a

n/a

 

Grade 5

Reading

(school/district)

Math

(school/district)

Science

(school/district)

Writing

(school/district)

2009-10

91/79

84/69

78/64

n/a

2010-11

95/76

89/69

84/64

n/a

*2011-12

83/66

84/61

79/62

n/a

2012-13

84/66

81/58

83/62

n/a

2013-14

79/66

71/60

75/62

n/a

**2014-15

53/51

53/50

75/62

n/a

***2015-16

80/56

81/57

58/76

n/a

2016-17

83/60

79/58

56/68

n/a

 

 

 

 

 

Grade 6

Reading

(school/district)

Math

(school/district)

Science

(school/district)

Writing

(school/district)

2009-10

95/81

93/76

n/a

n/a

2010-11

93/81

96/78

n/a

n/a

*2011-12

90/72

89/72

n/a

n/a

2012-13

81/72

86/68

n/a

n/a

2013-14

87/73

90/72

n/a

n/a

**2014-15

55/53

59/54

n/a

n/a

***2015-16

69/63

83/68

n/a

n/a

2016-17

81/64

89/68

n/a

n/a

                        *State assessment changed from FCAT to FCAT 2.0 and cut scores were raised.

**State assessment changed from FCAT 2.0 to Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) for Reading/Language Arts and Math and scores are reported as Mean T instead of percent.

***FSA ELA includes reading and writing combined and are recorded as a percent of students achieving level 3 and above

 

 

Please comment on any aspect of the data that you believe is particularly significant.

The data from the Florida Department of Education shows that Longleaf Elementary is making progress towards the goal of all students meeting high learning standards.  Brevard Public Schools consistently scores above the state average in state testing results, so we compare our scores to the district averages.  The trends show that our students consistently score above the district average with the exception of 2010-11 writing scores.  Longleaf has been ranked as an A+ school by the state of Florida fifteen years in a row. 

In the 2010-11, approximately 40% of our school population was rezoned to other schools and replaced with students from a different school.  This provided a barrier that needed to be addressed throughout our school because our faculty did not have the in-depth knowledge of each student to start the year and needed extra time to build expectations and routines with students at the beginning of the year.  One of the important pieces of our PLC work is to discuss our students and share both assessment data and qualitative data with each other to ensure smooth transitions between grade levels.  This typically happens at the end of each year, but needed to be moved to the beginning of that school year.  District and state class size rules also required a significant change in classes after the beginning of the school year.  We feel that these barriers especially impacted the test performance in fourth grade.

In 2011-12, state assessments changed to a new version, based on Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and the cut scores (scores that determine achievement levels) were increased.  In most cases, our percentages of students passing FCAT 2.0 show the drops were lower or commensurate with the district drops. 

The data from 2012-2013 shows that Longleaf continued to score above the district average, which was above the state average. Scores in this year tended to be fairly consistent with the previous year’s scores both at the school and the district levels.

In 2013-2014 Longleaf saw a drop in scores across the third through fifth grades. Teachers were designing and implementing instruction based on the Common Core Standards and the state assessment remained FCAT 2.0 which was based on the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. This drop in scores was the catalyst for improvement in our PLC focus.

The results of the 2014-15 Florida Standards Assessment reflect that Longleaf continued to make progress in teaching to the rigor of the Florida Standards. Although the state assessment was new during this period, and data is not comparable to FCAT data, Longleaf students scored at or above the district average in grades 3-6 reading/language arts and mathematics. Longleaf attributes this success to our collaborative efforts across grade levels and to our improved focus on utilization of data.

Data from the Florida Standards Assessment in 2015-16 reflects that Longleaf students continue to score above the district average in all grades and subject areas. Sixth grade ELA scores reflect a need for consistent writing instruction in response to reading since the writing score is combined with reading. Analysis of our ELA scores in grades 4-6 enabled teachers to recognize the need for a stronger writing focus.

In 2016-17, data from the Florida Standards Assessment reflects that Longleaf students continue to score above the district averages in all subject areas and grade levels. Scores are fairly consistent from one year to the next. This is significant because it means that we need to collaborate to plan and implement strategies that will help our students achieve even greater success.

  • Principal, Marilyn Sylvester, appointed to Commissioner’s Leadership Academy, a Program of the Council for Educational Change in Partnership with the Florida Department of Education - 2012-13

  • Brevard Public Schools recognition for Professional Learning Communities at Work – 2011-14

  • State of Florida A+ School- 2000 & 2002-2017

  • Golden School Award - 1999-2012

  • SunSpra Sunshine Medallion Award- 2000

  • State of Florida Five Star School Award- 1999-2017

  • EVA Award (Excellence in Visual Arts) 2006-2013

  • Excellence in Physical Education Award – 2007-2011

  • Florida Region 3 Reading Leadership Team of the Year Award- 2008

  • Florida School Leaders Promising Practices School (www.floridaschoolleaders.org) – 2008

  • Florida Arts Model School- 2015-2018

  • Certificate of Accreditation

  • Certificate of Affiliation from the National Elementary Honor Society- 2013-2018

Americanism Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars-1999 & 2007

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