Southmoreland Primary Center

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

The implementation of Dr. Richard DuFour’s Professional Learning Communities model has significantly impacted the culture of Southmoreland Primary Center, a Kindergarten and First Grade school. In 2008, Dr. Timothy Scott, principal, ensured that all teachers were organized into teams that focus on learning and results in collaborative settings. Team meetings are a regular and routine part of the school day, and are the foundation of Southmoreland Primary Center. Within those collaborative structures, teachers engage in Dr. DuFour’s “Team Learning Process” with beautiful redundancy. Teams collectively establish essential learnings for each course, map curriculum, and develop multiple common assessments with specific benchmarks. They then analyze the results of those assessments so they may identify struggling learners and develop programmatic improvement strategies. Finally, teams collaboratively create SMART goals that reflect their current realities and results.

In 2012, to align with the district’s vision of enhancing the focus on learning, principal-led professional development occurs as a means of enhancing collective capacity.  All teachers at SPC (and throughout the Southmoreland School District) have read Learning By Doing (DuFour, DuFour and Eaker) and discussed the book in our team meetings. Our professional growth and development are tied directly to our teaming schedule. By 2014, SPC embraced the role of "launchpad for learning", and through writing school norms,  instituted the first "the way we do things around here" for all adults in the building. The school also became the model for Guided Reading and the Daily 5. Teachers read The Cafe Book and then the Daily 5 together and then, collaboratively, implemented it in 2014-2015. The results were very encouraging as the number of students needing Title I reading intervention in grade 1 was cut in half--from 60 in 2014 to 31 in 2015. Additionally, in 2016, our K-1 students improved in the advanced and proficient categories from 2015 (16% proficient, 48% advanced for a total of 64%) to 19% proficient and and 59% advanced, for a highest mark of 78%. 

In 2013, Southmoreland Primary Center was recognized as part of Southmoreland Elementary School's National Blue Ribbon Award. Also in 2013, SPC was recognized as a Governor's School of Excellence in Academics, scoring a 93.6 on the School Performance Profile. Two years later, SPC competed for the first ever DuFour Award and continues to serve other schools by mentoring and sharing the experiences, the learning and the journey of becoming a Professional Learning Community.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Common formative assessments are the strength and the bedrock of our program at SPC. In our curriculum meetings, teachers work together to build common assessments with an eye toward unidimensionality so that we are measuring one skill thoroughly. We work on our pacing and revise tests to ensure that questions and problems accurate reflect student learning. The tests are given on the same day and are analyzed together in our curriculum meetings. The results are then employed to determine who will need additional time and support on that skill or who may need to be enriched based upon his or her performance. Using common assessment data, teachers identify the skill or standard with which the student is struggling. Together, the team discusses strategies to close the gap and the teacher creates a plan for intervention that includes a timeframe for implementation and exit criteria the identified skill.

Students demonstrating deeper reading deficits are selected for intensive intervention in their classrooms with “push-in” Reading Specialist who work with classroom teachers to plan and instruct students in reading. Those students may also receive support in small groups to specifically address reading deficits that have been identified using common formative assessments and NSGRA data.

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

In 2011, a daily 30 minute period was established school wide. No new instruction is provided during this time, but rather students are regrouped among all the team’s teachers to receive skill intervention and/or enrichment depending on present levels of learning. In 2014, students received math support during IE time as well as intensive push-in reading support from our Title I specialists. Intervention and extension happen all day at SPC--gthe Daily 5 structure allows for students to work on specific needs or strengths based upon NSGRA and Guided Reading data sets. Students work with teachers in small groups and are guven immediate and prescriptive feedback about their reading. 

Today, at SPC, intervention and enrichment happen all day. As we have implemented the Daily 5 for reading and the Daily 3 for math, all students work in large groups, small groups, pairs and independently every day. The learning is calibrated by student performance and allows for the scaffolding of materials and assessments that are progress monitored by running records and student achivement on common formative assessments.

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

The team learning process provides the structure needed for teachers to identify curricular “big ideas,” to develop common formative and summative assessments and to evaluate the data to make decisions on student readiness and program effectiveness. It is the most powerful form of teacher capacity building, as it promotes the strength of the team and supports the growth and development of teachers within the team itself. Dr. Richard DuFour writes that collaborative teams" are "the primary engine of [our] school improvement efforts" (Schmoker, 2004). It is the hallmark of successful schools and it is the bedrock of Southmoreland Primary Center’s transformation over the past five years.

Teachers on grade level teams begin the team learning process by identifying the essential outcomes for each of the content areas. They select several “power standards” from our current state standards which are then unpacked, reviewed, and established as benchmarks for student growth and learning during the semester or school year. The curriculum is mapped out by the team and pacing for those skills is established and followed to allow for reliability and comparison in results. Based upon those power standards, teachers write common formative and summative assessments together and then share their student results data with their peers during weekly curriculum meetings. It is here that teachers can share best practice, select students for Intervention and Extension (I/E), and discuss how non-proficient students will be supported and evaluated during IE time. This process ensures that students receive the guaranteed, viable curriculum that our teachers agree all students must have to be successful in their coursework going forward.

Teams use their teacher-developed item analysis tools to identify gaps in understanding or concepts that may not have been fully understood by students. Again, working collaboratively, teachers complete the item analyses and share them in their curriculum meetings. In this way, teachers may discuss how a concept might better be taught to all of our students or a collective decision will be made on the validity of a test question that students across the board might not have answered correctly. Assessments are only useful if they accurately reflect student learning, and teams routinely discuss the efficacy of their team-built assessments. Additionally, the teachers at Southmoreland Primary Center discuss and create intervention strategies that will be tracked and documented in our mapping tools. Over time, those intervention strategies are incorporated into instruction as they have been proven to be high leverage techniques for increased student learning. In our Student Support meetings, counselors and teachers discuss students in broader contexts, considering the antecedents to student behaviors and creating plans to address those issues.

It is important to note that our team learning process is cyclical and ongoing. It is fluid and permits the team to make adjustments within the structure of the standards. As teachers move through the cycle, new approaches are considered and implemented while less successful techniques may be modified or eliminated. In this way, we can truly be prescriptive in our approach to delivering curriculum, assessing learning, and monitoring our system’s efficacy.

Southmoreland Primary Center uses the Scholastic Next Step in Guided Reading Assessment as our progress monitoring system for student reading achievement. We also examine our district’s third grade scores on the Pennsylvania System of State Assessment (PSSA) as we believe those scores are reflective of our work in building a guaranteed, viable curriculum for our students. Our data over the past six years shows that students at SPC make marked improvement from the benchmark testing over the course of the year in reading. SPC is the foundation for learning in our school district, and as improved reading proficiency has been identified as a district-wide goal, our mission is to establish a solid reading base for all of our students. In year two of our new assessment, we will be better able to compare from baseline to current program effectiveness--however, our one year data showed more students at grade level in reading than in any previous school year to date.

(More data for this school is available under the 'Resources' tab.)

Pennsylvania Department of Education Adequate Yearly Progress Award Recipient (2003-14)

National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence (2013)

National Model of a Professional Learning Community at Work (2013)

National DuFour Award nominee

Ranked the Most Overachieving District for the third consecutive year in the Region and #4 Most Overachieving School District in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2016)

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