Viers Mill Elementary

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

School Programs

  • Identified Title I School
  • Elementary Home School Model100% inclusion model for K-5 students 
  • Preschool Education Program (PEP)3- and 4-year-old students with identified learning disabilities
  • Head StartFull-day program for 4-year-old students impacted by poverty
  • PrekindergartenHalf-day program for 4-year-old students impacted by poverty
  • Linkages to LearningCommunity partnership to provide wraparound supports
  • School-Based Health CenterPediatric medical care program for students/siblings

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

  • Our incremental growth and sustained student success through 2013 are tangible evidence of the effectiveness of a high-functioning professional learning community
  • Viers Mill Elementary has statistically closed the achievement gap for the past five years. Neither race nor affluence are predicting student performance at Viers Mill.   
  • Data walls, aligned to goals, are displayed in the rooms and frequently changed. Student Learning Maps are displayed in every classroom as well. The daily routine at Viers Mill involves a lot of attention to data. Students and staff alike engage in various processes of data collection, data analysis, and data sharing. Working with student performance data is thoroughly intertwined with the school's instructional practices. As a result, teachers design formative assessments, monitor student performance, and modify their instructional strategies based on data they identify themselves or receive through grade-level planning and working with the leadership team.

Please present additional information that indicates your efforts to build a professional learning community have had a positive impact on students and/or teachers.

  • The results of our Gallup Staff Survey provide clear evidence that our staff members are highly engaged, understand their work, and feel effective.      
  • The Harvard Case Study that was completed in 2005 of Viers Mill characterized our school as a “distinctly collaborative environment.” We pride ourselves on being a true professional learning community.
  • Our school emphasizes intellectual and personal development for staff as well as students. Staff members are encouraged to mentor and collaborate with one another, develop skills that will further enhance their abilities, and use new information to improve the quality of their work.  
  • Staff actively work with the leadership team to share data, identify new sources of information, and help each other with difficult problems. 
  • Planning and the use of data are encouraged at all levels all the time. There is a specific school-wide  focus on grade-level planning, and extended time is dedicated to those efforts each week. Teachers use this time to engage one another in examining ideas and possible improvements. The increased planning time fosters positive interactions elsewhere, and staff members expect to work together and help one another because improved student achievement depends on it. Team planning consists not only of planning curricula, but debating different ways of reaching students, discussing instructional strategies, and strong examination of data.
  • Paraprofessionals receive professional development throughout the year and are a key to our ability to provide targeted small-group instruction to identified students.  
  • Parent and family involvement is highly valued. There is a comprehensive effort to be inclusive and welcoming to parents. The school uses a variety of traditional methods of communicating with parents, including weekly parent bulletins (translated into Spanish), progress reports, homework folders, and instructional packets.
  • The partnership with parents extends beyond encouraging support for the school and being informed about their children. Our school's Family Learning Nights, which begun in 2003 and have been widely modeled throughout the county, are viewed as a key component to the success of the school. The availability of food, babysitting, bilingual presentations, and a structured activity open to all children have encouraged many entire families to attend. Parents receive information about learning objectives for their children, and they receive instruction on how to reinforce these concepts at home.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

  • Classroom teachers provide daily guided reading lessons in a small group for every student in our school, every day. This allows them to know students on a more personal level and know their specific educational needs.
  • Classroom teachers assess students reading levels informally every 2–3 weeks, then formally every 8–9 weeks.
  • Each grade-level team conducts a Data Wall Discussion every 8–9 weeks. Every classroom teacher from that grade and all other staff members who provide reading instruction participate. Classroom teachers present their students one at a time to the group, highlighting their strengths, needs, and growth since the last Data Wall Discussion, then place that student on their Wall at the appropriate reading level. After all students from the grade level have been presented, the group discusses and determines who will teach which students and identify intervention groups and the focus of those groups. 

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

  • When a teacher has a concern about a student who is struggling to learn, they meet with our reading specialist, math content coach, or our counselor depending on what the teacher feels like is the child’s main challenge. The teacher and specialist discuss what is taking place currently, look through data from previous years, and create an action plan to address needs and measure growth. 
  • Our staff provides specific interventions for students in the morning before the start of our official school day. This allows students to receive the focused support that they need and does not conflict with the “good first instruction” they are receiving in their classrooms.
  • Students can be identified for decoding, fluency, vocabulary development, comprehension, number sense, math applications, etc.
  • Interventions are provided before the school day officially begins, after guided reading groups with classroom teachers, and after school.

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

  • Our staff development teacher works closely with our team leaders as well as individual teams to support and clarify their work. 
  • Team leaders play a vital role in guiding the direction and resources of the school as well as identifying our needs. 
  • Our school improvement team meets quarterly to plan, adjust, and reflect on our practices.
  • The staff does not depend on traditional notions of classroom organization and lesson planning. There is an emphasis on flexibility and creativity, and being resourceful and responsive to the needs of the child. These flexible approaches to working with students and the ability of teachers to ask for help from other staff members are processes that have developed over time. 
  • We have extended weekly team meetings for all teams K–5 to examine data, plan for preassessments and for differentiation in all subject areas, create formative assessments, etc.
  • All grade level teams have full-day “Planning Days” each marking period. These days allow teams to collaborate for in-depth long-range planning, discuss proficiency levels they are looking for from their students, create their Student Learning Maps, identify key vocabulary, and create common formative assessments that they will reflect on after their instruction.  
  • All teachers meet in monthly study groups to focus on reading comprehension. These study groups allow for teachers to reflect on their practices and discuss them with other staff members.  These conversations lead to a deeper understanding of our work, an appreciation for the other professionals that we work with, and a common language / understanding that help us be more effective as a larger organization.      
  • Our full inclusion model with co-teaching for special education and English language learners (ELLs) helps us align our work and share our unique perspectives to benefit all of our students.

Maryland School Assessment

 

Reading

 

 

 

Trend Data

2011

2012

2013

All Students

96.7

>95.0

>95.0

Asian

100

>95.0

>95.0

African American

91.7

>95.0

>95.0

White

100

>95.0

>95.0

Hispanic

96.4

>95.0

>95.0

LEP

88.7

94.4

93.2

Special Education

99.0

93.8

91.6

FARMS

96.1

>95.0

>95.0

 

Maryland School Assessment

 

Math

 

 

 

Trend Data

2011

2012

2013

All Students

98.1

>95.0

>95.0

Asian

100

>95.0

>95.0

African American

87.5

89.3

>95.0

White

100

>95.0

>95.0

Hispanic

99.3

>95.0

94.8

LEP

98.2

>95.0

95.0

Special Education

99.0

92.3

92.6

FARMS

98.1

>95.0

>95.0

 

 

2010 - NCUST National Excellence in Urban Education Award Finalist, National Center for Urban School Transformation

2008 - National Title I School of Distinction, U.S. Department of Education

2005 - National No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, U.S. Department of Education

2004 - Maryland State Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Maryland State Department of Education

 

Additional Recognitions:

2014 - Viers Mill highlighted in Solution Tree video series to be released at a future date

2013 - Currently seven teachers are recognized as National Board Certified Teachers

2009 - Deputy Secretary Of Education Tony Miller visited Viers Mill Family Learning Night to highlight our strong school and family partnership

2009 - President Barack Obama visited Viers Mill to celebrate our closing of the achievement gap

2009 - Invited to present at The Education Trust Conference, Virginia

2009 - Invited to consult with Racine Unified School District, Wisconsin

2008 - Education Week 2/19/08 - Viers Mill featured on closing the achievement gap

2008 - Invited to present at Anne Arundel County Professional Development Conference, Maryland

2007 - Viers Mill highlighted in video series: Professional Learning Communities at Work - DuFour and Eaker

2005 - Education Week 8/10/05 - Viers Mill featured on the value of effective staff development

2004 - Harvard University Case Study of Viers Mill

 

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