Solon High School

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

The Solon Community School district started its professional learning community journey during the 2007-08 school year. At the recommendation of the principal, a group of elementary teachers read Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work (DuFour, DuFour & Eaker, 2008).  District staff then read a chapter from this book about “Peter Miller” a fictitious high school social studies teacher and his transforming experience as part of a PLC.  Through reading this book, a grassroots movement started to develop a philosophy of fewer independent contractors and a more collaborative community of adult learners. 

In the summer of 2011, a team of teachers and administrators from Solon High School attended the PLC Institute in St. Louis.  The teachers brought back this learning to their departments.  Soon, this idea took off and content departments began to feel empowered by accomplishing more as a collaborative team.  Professional development was centered on these four questions:

  1. What is it we want our students to learn?
  2. How will we know if each student has learned it?
  3. How will we respond when some students don’t learn it?
  4. How can we extend and enrich the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency?
    (DuFour et al., 2010)

        

         District goals were established for the 2011-2012 school year and each teacher completed a self-audit rubric to determine their team’s strength’s and weaknesses based on principles indentified in Learning by Doing

  1. 100% of SCSD teachers will initially align their course content with the Iowa Core essential concepts and skills.
  2. 100% of SCSD teachers will document their enacted curriculum for each grade level.
  3. 100% of SCSD collaborative learning teams will create and implement at least two common formative assessments.

        

         Additionally, Solon High School utilized a daily homeroom time, referred to as “seminar”, to provide students with a chance for revisions, homework help, and some rudimentary interventions.  The time was not well utilized in the early years.  However, through the use of PLC’s, the departments became more aware of the need to create a system wide structure of interventions using this seminar time.  During team's collaborative work time, they developed common formative assessments centered on specific learning targets.  They used the results of those assessments to identify students that needed additional time and support as well as adjusting instruction.  These common formative assessments allowed Solon High School teachers the ability to analyze student work to make instructional decisions.  

         Along with the transformation of PLC’s, Solon High School utilizes standards based grading.  Grades at the secondary level are calculated on essential standards for the course.  Behaviors such as attendance, participation, and homework were removed from grades to better reflect student learning.  The Solon Board of Education adopted the following grading guidelines to use in all secondary classrooms.

  1. Entries in the grade book that count towards the final grade will be limited to course or grade level standards.
  2. Extra credit will not be given at any time.
  3. Students will be allowed multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of classroom standards in various ways. Retakes and revisions will be allowed.
  4. Teachers will determine grade book entries by considering multiple points of data emphasizing the most recent data and provide evidence to support their determination.
  5. Students will be provided multiple opportunities to practice standards independently through homework or other class work. Practice assignments and activities will be consistent with classroom standards for the purpose of providing feedback. Practice assignments, including homework, will not be included as part of the final grade.

 

         Throughout the past three years, teacher teams at Solon High School have used common formative assessment data to plan and guide instruction.  Teachers at Solon High School have used an intervention team to identify students that were struggling with achieving classroom standards.  This team utilized the Pyramid of Interventions created by high school staff to systemically target students for interventions.  Students were identified by learning standards and grouped with teachers to provide targeted and structured support during seminar.  The number of weekly interventions for students ranged from approximately 20-100 throughout the school year. 

Finally, a leadership team comprised of teachers and administrators created a three-year professional learning community vision plan to build upon the successes of the past three years.  This vision will be revisited annually as we continue to evolve as a professional learning community.   

 

 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Solon High School utilizes a building intervention team to monitor student learning on a timely basis.  The staff uses a weekly grade checklist to initially identify any struggling students.  Students that are struggling in multiple classes are given priority.  Then, any student with a D or an F is put on a watch list.  If that student continues to struggle the following week, that student is added to an intervention period.  Additionally, each teacher is able to request a student for an intervention during a school-wide intervention period.  Teachers often request kids by learning target for re-teaching.

Solon High School also utilizes a system of referrals in academic, social/emotional, and bullying.  Staff in the school will use a common form to report any students with concerns in the areas listed above.  These referrals are directed to staff on the building intervention team.  This team then identifies the issue with the student and reports to the building intervention team about strategies used to help the student be successful.

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

Students in the high school benefit from Solon’s Response to Intervention system by participating in strong core instruction.  In Tier 1, students are involved in a rigorous curriculum.  Solon High School utilizes standards based grading.  Through this practice, each class has essential learning targets and big ideas for students to understand.  Teachers have worked collaboratively to align instruction.  Furthermore, teachers work in collaborative learning teams to develop common formative assessments to determine effective core instruction. 

The staff worked diligently to provide time for student intervention within the block schedule during a daily homeroom or "seminar" time.  This 30-minute block of time occurs daily for all students opposite of their lunch. On Mondays, each seminar teacher meets individually with students to review grades.  Then, Tuesday through Friday, students are assigned by the building level intervnetion team to content area teachers for interventions.  The intervention team sorts kids into two groups.  Those that have a "skill" deficit and those that have "will" deficit.  A master list of students is kept on a shared document.  The principal and at-risk coordinator walk the building to ensure that kids are attending the correct intervention period.  

This can happen in several ways.  First, teachers can select students that are behind on learning targets to stay for a mandatory intervention time.  This gives teachers the ability to re-teach material for students with a "skill" deficit.  There is also an intervention for students with a "will" deficit.  Any student that is not completing homework/practice is assigned to an intervention period for the week.  One staff member monitors this intervention and requires kids to complete the work.  The staff at Solon follow this mantra, “The penalty for not doing the work is, doing the work!”

 For students needing the most intensive assistance, there are Tier 3 interventions in place.  The school’s Success Coordinator (At-risk teacher) will pull each student that has failed in Tiers 1 and 2.  He will have an individual meeting with the student, notify the parent, and develop a plan to help the student re-assess any material.  Additionally, he has before and after school tutoring sessions where students can receive indivualized help.  Students in Tier 3 may also have schedule changes or the number of classes reduced, be placed in a guided study hall to work on executive functioning skills, or be assigned to work in an online class.  Students in all three tiers are monitored weekly to determine next steps.  

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

Without a strong foundation in the DuFour concepts of PLC’s, Solon’s staff would not be where we are today.  We spent a significant amount of time working on norms and the procedures for productive collaboration.  As our teams developed trust and positive working relationships, we were then able to introduce the idea of common assessments to examine instruction.

During any given teacher collaboration time, you will find the staff at Solon High School working on these four questions:

  1. What is it we want our students to learn?
  2. How will we know if each student has learned it?
  3. How will we respond when some students don’t learn it?
  4. How can we extend and enrich the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency?
    (DuFour et al., 2010)

Below is an example of a high performing collaborative team in the math department. (See attachment)

The school board saw value in teachers collaborating and approved a calendar that allows for weekly early dismissals for teachers to collaborate.  Teachers meet weekly on Thursdays from 1:45-3:30 to talk about student achievement, compare common formative assessments, discuss grading practices, and align standards.  These collaborative teacher teams are organized around content area (departments).  In addition to the district approved weekly collaboration time, departments chose to get together during the week.  For example, all of the math teachers have prep during the same block so they can collaborate during the school day.  Other departments have identified times before/after school in which they continue to collaborate.  This time is absolutley critical to the success of our school.  

2014-2015 School Year- Student Achievement Data

 

 

Reading- % Proficient Solon

Reading-% Proficient State of Iowa

Math- % Proficient

Solon

Math-% Proficient State of Iowa

Science- % Proficient

Solon

Science-% Proficient State of Iowa

Soc. St.- % Proficient

Solon

Soc. St.-% Proficient State of Iowa

9th Grade

97.1%

 

82.6%

92.3%

77.7%

93.3%

78.3%

97.0%

87.3%

10th Grade

97.7%

85.5%

94.3%

82.3%

96.6%

81.2%

96.6%

88.4%

11th Grade

 

85.6%

79.6%

96.4%

83.2%

89.2%

79.6%

88.3%

80.4%

 

 

2013-2014 School Year- Student Achievement Data

 

 

Reading- % Proficient

Solon

Reading-% Proficient State of Iowa

Math- % Proficient

Solon

Math-% Proficient State of Iowa

Science- % Proficient

Solon

Science-% Proficient State of Iowa

Soc. St.- % Proficient

Solon

Soc. St.-% Proficient State of Iowa

9th Grade

94.4%

 

83.3%

93.3%

78.6%

91.1%

78.8%

95.6%

87.2%

10th Grade

93.9%

85.4%

88.7%

82.5%

89.5%

81.1%

93.6%

88.1%

11th Grade

 

91.7%

78.7%

91.7%

83.3%

92.6%

79%

88.5%

80.5%

 

2012-2013 School Year- Student Achievement Data

 

 

Reading- % Proficient

Solon

Reading-% Proficient State of Iowa

Math- % Proficient

Solon

Math-% Proficient State of Iowa

Science- % Proficient

Solon

Science-% Proficient State of Iowa

Soc. St.- % Proficient

Solon

Soc. St.-% Proficient State of Iowa

9th Grade

84.7%

 

76.3%

82.2%

78.4%

89.8%

82%

88.1%

85.3%

10th Grade

91.7%

80.6%

90.8%

80.3%

95.4%

84.5%

94.5%

86.3%

11th Grade

91.4%

81.9%

91.4%

80.6%

94.2%

84.6%

93.6%

85.7%

 

2011-2012 School Year- Student Achievement Data

 

 

Reading- % Proficient

Solon

Reading-% Proficient State of Iowa

Math- % Proficient

Solon

Math-% Proficient State of Iowa

Science- % Proficient

Solon

Science-% Proficient State of Iowa

Soc. St.- % Proficient

Solon

Soc. St.-% Proficient State of Iowa

9th Grade

90.1%

 

76.9%

87.4%

79.2%

94.6%

82%

99.1%

85.2%

10th Grade

NA

80.7%

NA

80.5%

NA

85.2%

NA

87%

11th Grade

 

97%

82.6%

95%

81.4%

96%

84.9%

94.1%

85.8%

 

Solon High School was recongized by the Des Moines Register as the Iowa Small School of the Year in 2007 and 2010.

Solon High School was recongized by US News and World Reports as one of "Americas Top High School" in 2014.

Solon Community School District was recognized as one of Iowa Top Workplaces in 2015 by the Des Moines Register.

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