Glyndon-Felton Elementary

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

In 2012, we were extremely concerned with our MMR score of 31.97%. This score looks at overall proficiency, individual growth, and reduction in our achievement gap. We were invested in the Response to Intervention (RTI) model; however, our scores did not reflect the effort of our students and staff. Our sense of urgency increased as our leadership team evaluated our current practices in and out of the classroom. We embraced the Professional Learning Community (PLC) framework, sending teams of teachers to the PLC Institute in Minneapolis multiple years in a row and hosting a day-long workshop on site with Austin Buffum. We collaboratively studied the first question, “What is it we want our students to learn?” by breaking the standards into focused learning targets. This enabled teachers to have a clear understanding of what students needed to learn. This process encompassed a yearlong collaborative journey facilitated by our instructional coaches; who were instrumental in leading our teachers as they moved from a culture of isolation to collective inquiry. Our 2013 MMR results, 53.15%, validated our work we did, dissecting the standards and aligning our work vertically and horizontally. Our proficiency score of 25 points proved that our teachers knew the standards in depth and were focusing on the targets or “I Can” statements in their classrooms on a daily basis. Collaborative teams met weekly to discuss standards, instruction, and student progress.

The following year, we knew that we needed to add the next layer of the PLC framework by answering the second question, “How will we know when the students have learned the targets?” This question compelled us to create common formative assessments (CFAs) for each individual learning target. Our instructional coaches guided the work of each grade level as they developed assessments for the discrete learning targets. By having timely descriptive data; our teachers were then able to study questions #3 and #4; “What do we do for the students who aren’t learning?” and “How do we extend the learning for those who already have mastered the skills?” Our PLC teams researched John Hattie’s Visible Learning meta-analyses to determine which practices have the greatest positive impact on student learning. Educators had to evaluate their own teaching practices and break down any barriers of trust among teams in order to truly provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum for each student in our school. Instructional practices evolved as teachers studied differentiation, student engagement, workshop model, and targeted instruction. The targeted work done in the areas of assessment, differentiated instruction, and collaboration resulted in a significant increase in our student growth and a decrease in our achievement gap. These points have been supported by yet another significant jump in our spring 2014 MMR rating of 65.77%, placing us in the Celebration Eligible category of effectiveness for the state of Minnesota.

We continued our work as PLCs during the 2014-2015 school year. One of our goals for the year was to increase our in-house professional development which we accomplished through weekly Learning Forums when we shared with each other effective strategies for both academics and behaviors, more deeply examined our teaching practices by looking in the mirror rather than out the window, and added another layer of learning to our team leaders. As a school we were proud to receive Reward School (top 15% of Title eligible schools in Minnesota) status based upon our spring 2015 MMR score of 77.83%. 

When we initially started the work of becoming a true PLC we predicted that our students would demonstrate higher levels of learning. However, the growth exceeded our expectations; we definitely celebrate this, and feel confident with our plans for continued improvement. We also need to acknowledge that there has been an even deeper unexpected result of the work that was done. We have seen, through our students and staff, a shift in our culture. Learning for all is our fundamental purpose. Our students are invested in their learning, which is a direct result of the conversations that take place in all settings of the school. Students come to school with a sense of urgency and excitement. We have quickly transitioned from a fixed mindset to one of continual growth for staff and students. We celebrate, on a frequent basis, the success of each student. We recognize individual growth and perseverance of students and staff. Fully understanding that in order to continue to close the achievement gap and ensure growth for each student, we need to continue the journey we have started. During the 2015-2016 school year, we are continuing our PLC teaming. We are implementing rubric based scoring, standards based reporting, and studying the impact of effective feedback. We are creating our CFAs for science and social studies and editing our math and language arts assessments as we increase our understanding of what we expect our students to know. We are continuing weekly learning forums to study current research and implications for instruction.  We are absolutely thrilled with our journey and celebrate the achievement of our students. We look forward to future years as we develop our skills and deepen our collaboration. It was exciting to attend the PLC Summit and gain more insight while affirming the important work we do. What a great time to be in education!

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our grade level PLCs have created common formative and summative assessments which are used throughout the learning units to adjust instruction. Students are allowed re-dos or do overs once reteaching or additional practice and support has been provided to ensure that students master all key learning concepts. 

We are in our 2nd year of using STAR for our benchmark data for all students. We have been very impressed with this tool, especially the growth component, since we can target not only our students who are at-risk but also those who benefit from extensions. We progress monitor students who receive tier II and tier III services at least bi-weekly.

 

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

We altered our schedule to allow staff opportunities to intervene and provide enrichments for all students in a timely, proactive manner. Our goal with our schedule was to ensure that students were receiving enough time for core instruction and intervention/enrichments, as well as our teachers having common planning time. As a site team, we started with reviewing our mission, vision, and fundamental purpose of learning for all and began with prioritizing the three areas of core, I/E, and common planning.

A priority for us as an elementary school is to ensure all students receive a guaranteed and viable curriculum. All students receive core instruction in the content areas and are then provided with additional time during the day for interventions and enrichments, based upon data from progress monitoring through common assessments. During core time, we do not pull students for additional services. During our Tier-rific tier time, all staff participate to provide students with instruction at their level. We share students between the grade level classrooms and utilize our student performance strategists, English Language Learner teacher, school counselor, and special education teachers. When our physical education and music teachers are free, we even use them. These are ALL OUR students and we ALL work together. 

 

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

As a building, we have spent a great deal of time studying characteristics of "10 teams" (Mattos) and making all efforts for each team to be true 10s. We are currently having rich discussions around the topic of team conflict and how to move teams past the point of dysfunction. We hold annual PLC training camps for our team leaders who study works of Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, Mattos, Cruz, Hattie, Stiggens etc. while developing school goals based on data from multiple sources. Our fundamental purpose is to ensure high levels of learning for ALL students which drives every decision we make. Collaboration is a priority. We are especially proud of the fact that finally our learner support staff are grounded in the PLC framework and time is dedicated for their collaboration as it is for our grade level teachers. 

Our PLCs are structured primarly as grade level teams. We have 3-6 classroom teachers on each PLC team. Our biggest shift this year has been the solid implementation of PLCs with our specialists, including Title I, Special Education, and ELL. We have struggled with the logistics of bringing these professionals together in a meaningful manner, but with the help of resources from Solution Tree and dedicated team leaders, our learner support team meets on a weekly basis to discuss data, interventions, students, and results. 

Our PLCs meet formally each week during common planning time. During this time our team leaders faciliate collaboration which focuses on student results of formative/summative assessments, instructional practices and interventions/extensions for all students, and focus on our big ideas. Our teams meet at another point during the week for grade level planning to ensure that they don't spend PLC time on logistics. PLCs also meet within 48 hours of any common formative assessment that is given to review results and make adjustments to groups.

Our PLC team leaders meet with the building principal before school on Tuesday mornings. This is an opportunity for the leaders to learn from each other as a professional learning community. Our focus of learning this year is on providing our students with effective, reflective feedback paired with specific goals and the process for mastering the skills.

I am including a document on Step 8 which shows a chart of our data as compared to the state and ourselves.

Throughout the past 5 years in the area of math, we have outperformed the state by as much as 15%. In the area of reading, we have also outperformed the state each year by as much as 15% with continued improvement each year.

The state of Minnesota uses a Multiple Measurements Rating system (MMR) which looks at a school's proficiency, growth, and achievement gap reduction rates. We have increased our scores from 32% to 78% over the past 3 years (please see attached charts). 

As noted in our data report, we have moved from a school that was close to Focus standing to a school eligible for Celebration status. In the state of Minnesota this is a huge accomplishment.

Our school is identified on the AllthingsPlC website as an inspiration story and the principal of our school served as a reviewer of the new book, Game Plan, A Playbook for Developing Winning PLCs at Work.

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