Mason Crest Elementary

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

Mason Crest was the recipient of the first ever DuFour Award in 2016. The mission of Mason Crest Elementary School is to ensure high levels of learning for all students and adults. We are purposeful and intentional in building and sustaining a culture of collaboration. Prior to any staff member joining the team, prospective candidates are given an expectations document that explains our beliefs, what we value, and how we operate in order to accomplish our mission. Building the foundation for learning starts with a shared understanding of how the Professional Learning Community at Work process focuses on Three Big Ideas, collaboration, learning, and results. We build common language around what it means in our work as educators to answer the Professional Learning Community’s four critical questions of learning.Every time a new person joins our staff, we have a new team. In order to ensure common language, we need to be intentionally redundant and continuously cycle back, revisit and strengthen our collective understandings. In our first year as a school (2012-2013), we spent a large amount of time learning about what it means to function as a Professional Learning Community at Work and why it is an urgent undertaking. We then clarified our purpose and identified what type of school we were to create. Then, we collectively made commitments to each other for how we promised to behave in order to realize our mission and achieve our vision. Each year we renew, revise, and build consensus around our commitments. Together we continually revisit, read about, reflect on, and deepen our understanding of the process in order to ensure that there is a common understanding, language, and focus.

A major part of realizing our vision and honoring our mission is learning together. Therefore, the staff at Mason Crest Elementary School participates in multifaceted, ongoing, job-embedded professional learning and development. All instructional staff, including classroom teachers, instructional assistants, fine arts teachers, counselors, and all specialists, take onsite courses related to best practices not only in our content areas, but in meeting the needs of our student population to build common knowledge, common language, and common expectations around how we plan to move forward in a clear, unified way. These courses are incredibly helpful and are truly our anchors, but they are only the tip of the iceberg in regard to professional development at Mason Crest. Team members are collectively responsible for continuing their learning together in order to support core instruction for all of our students. This is done through various types of collaborative team meetings that occur on a regularly scheduled basis, such as planning for learning, data discussions with progress monitoring, co-teaching, observations, and reflections. These teams are made up of classroom teachers and support staff working with students at each grade level.

All of our staff teach for understanding; teach students to be problem solvers and critical thinkers, and take collective responsibility as we believe and embrace that all students belong to all of us. Our first year,the emphasis of our work together was to build shared knowledge on how lessons were constructed during the math and language arts workshops and best practices in instructional delivery. The belief systems of our math and language arts instruction was a unified philosophy that all students would be engaged in order to deepen their learning and build a conceptual understanding. In our second year, the focus of our work expanded our learning to explore best practices in differentiation and co-teaching, ensuring that we targeted instruction to meet the needs of every student. In order to address every student by name and by need, in our 3rd year we fine-tuned our data analysis, going beyond the score to look deeper and evaluate student work to identify the targeted needs of our learners. Analyzing data in this way helped us determine our next instructional steps and future professional development within collaborative teams. Building the foundation of our Professional Learning Community and keeping the foundation strong is an on-going process. In the following sections you will see a more detailed view of the components of this process. 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Monitoring student data is an on-going process. Each time an educator works with a student we gain an additional view of that child’s learning. Sometimes it is a tidbit from an observation or conversation, and sometimes it is something more absolute, like the results of an exit ticket or a more formal assessment. The sum of these data points provides us with information that helps us develop a plan that allows us to collectively move forward with that child’s learning. We have two scheduled opportunities for teams (all teachers supporting the grade level) to work through an in-depth data discussion and, as a result, make plans for student learning. The first is a meeting that is less than an hour long during which teams look at recent common assessment data and the second is a longer, 3 1⁄2 hour meeting after a major assessment. The longer meetings are scheduled every 5-7weeks. 

The timing of these meetings is critical. Once a team has developed and agreed on the assessment/data to be collected, a date is set for the data analysis. Typically it is within a couple of days of the collection so that the information can be used immediately to make a timely plan for each child. There are 3 questions that we answer during these meetings that help us stay focused. 1) Which of our students need additional time and support to achieve at or above proficiency on an essential learning? 2) What is our plan to enrich and extend the learning for students who are highly proficient?, and 3) What is an area in which my students struggled? This last question helps each teacher look for trends in the data, explore who had success teaching specific skills/strategies, share strategies and resources that were effective for student learning, and refine practices. Answering these questions and discussing the results requires trust and transparency. Each person must be curious and eager to learn from each other, to reflect on effective practices and to be willing to abandon ineffective practices for the sake of student learning.

During these data analysis and progress monitoring meetings we regroup students for targeted supports and extensions and refine teachers’ schedules to reflect the new student groupings. As a result we have a specific, targeted plan for each student with a 6 week goal to attain. At the end of the six weeks, we review each student's goal and revise the plan accordingly.

The final step of our process is to record our plans in the progress-monitoring notes for each individual student. The notes identify the following:

  • ·  who is providing the additional support on the targeted skill,

  • ·  the number of minutes and times per week the student will receive guided instruction on the skill or strategy,

  • ·  the teacher-to-student ratio of the group,

  • ·  duration in weeks that we will give this support,

  • ·  the individual student’s goal and the assessments the teacher used to monitor and measure student progress. 

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

  1. Teaching and additional learning time occurs during our instructional block of time allotted for each content area, not during a separate intervention time. Each grade level team allocates two hours for language arts instruction and ninety minutes for math instruction each day. Intervention and extension happens daily within those extended instructional blocks. During our planning meetings, we create plans together, identify resources, and differentiate instruction by creating and utilizing resources such as leveled texts, tiered tasks, effective questioning techniques, language supports, and instructional and student choice menus to meet the needs of all of our students. We explicitly discuss structures to be used to help teachers manage the classroom while working with small groups of students. In most cases, we utilize the workshop model which allows for students to be working on grade level essential learning while teachers work with small groups of students on identified needs. Those needs are pinpointed and planned for so that the students are receiving exactly the level of support needed at that time, in that content area. A critical component for the success of this model is our emphasis on co-teaching. Our special education, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Advanced Academics Resource Teacher (AART), and resource teachers are strategically partnered with classroom teachers so that there are multiple teachers in the classroom during the lessons and specifically during small group work. Because plans are created together the teachers are able to use the instructional time effectively and efficiently and the content is aligned and connected. For example, the beginning of the lesson starts at the time that is agreed upon by the grade level team. The new learning for the day occurs in the initial 10-20 minute focus lesson. Immediately following that, students rotate through a variety of stations. Each station is planned for the needs of all students and groupings of the students are strategic, some of the groupings come from the progress monitoring meetings and are a part of the students’ plans. The station rotations could be a combination of:

    • ●  independent work (independent reading, practice with new content, technology station practicing content from earlier lessons-spiraling back to earlier content, choice activities, etc)

●  partner work (games that are tiered or choice items, buddy reading, etc.) 

  • guided instruction with a teacher (support with new content, extension work, support with language needs, support with targeted skills, support with earlier content, etc)
    • The timing of the workshop model is critical because students are grouped and regrouped across the grade level team. Students may move to another classroom or meet with a variety of different teachers during station rotations based on their need and the plan created for each child. It is a well oiled machine where students learn the system, expectations, and understand that they each are unique with different learning needs. Some students may meet with a teacher for guided instruction 2 times a week in a content area, while other students may work in small groups for targeted support 6-8 times a week. This may not be equal but it is fair because each child receives the targeted instruction to meet their needs. 

 

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

In order for our teams to have adequate instructional time to embed targeted small-group instruction into daily plans, to plan, analyze data, and learn from each other, we build in specific structures into the school’s master schedule. These structures provide uninterrupted time for teams to work together. The process of developing the school schedule was very intentionally built around three non-negotiables: two hours of daily uninterrupted language arts instruction, ninety minutes of daily mathematics instruction, and one hour of common planning time daily for each grade level. Each year every staff member is invited to be a part of the master schedule creation. Our specialist team, made up of the librarian and physical education, music, and art teachers, do the laborious work of creating a final schedule. They understand how critical they are to the overall mission of our school by providing the structures and supports for teams to have this valuable time.

Our most valuable resources are our human resources. We are purposeful in how we allocate them. Roles are not determined based on what is convenient or comfortable for adults, but based on student needs. Some factors we consider are English language development needs, learning needs, behavior needs, the number of students in the grade level, and level of expertise of staff members. Once the grade level teams are established, we collectively develop team norms; our agreement to each other on how we operate in collaborative settings. Norms are reflected on and revised throughout the year. The members of the team include all grade level teachers, ESOL teachers, special education teachers, technology specialists, advanced academic resource teachers, content area specialists and when possible our librarian, art, music and physical education teachers join in the planning. As frequently as possible, instructional assistants are included in these meetings. These professionals form highly functioning collaborative teams that guarantee a viable curriculum by:

· co-laboring to explore and understand the content, prioritize and develop learning goals and determine the pacing of lessons

  • ·  considering student engagement and integration of technology

  • ·  developing shared resources and common assessments

  • ·  crafting SMART goals and continually assess student progress and our collective effectiveness towards meeting those goals

· strategically group students according to needs, flexibly grouping and regrouping students across classrooms
· creating structures within the instructional blocks that allow for guided instruction, independent practice and assessment of student learning.

If our school vision is to meet the needs of all learners by planning collaboratively, then we also need to teach and reflect collaboratively. All staff commit to a shared accountability for the learning of all and trust their teammates while making decisions about co-teaching roles and specific teaching moves. We use multiple co-teaching models including parallel teaching and team teaching to deliver instruction based on the learning goals of the lesson. Co-teaching allows us to deliver targeted guided instruction, which enhances student learning. Equally important, our own learning increases in a co-teaching setting because it fine tunes our pedagogy and makes our team stronger. 

The Commonwealth of Virginia awards accreditation to schools based on the Accreditation Benchmarks ratings, below.   Our school far exceeds the benchmark and in most cases has either improved or held constant. The percentage pass rates are compared to ALL schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and ALL schools in Fairfax County (including middle and high schools).  We are a Fully State Accredited Title One School.

MCES=Mason Crest

FCPS=Fairfax County Public Schools

VA=All Schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia Elementary through High School

Subject

Accreditation Benchmark

Percent Passing the 2013-2014 Test Administration

Percent Passing the 2014-2015

Test Administration

Percent Passing the  2015-2016

Test Administration

   

MCES

FCPS

VA

MCES

FCPS

VA

MCES

FCPS

VA

English

75

84

81

74

92

85

79

88

 

 

Math

70

93

81

74

95

83

79

93

 

 

History

70

96

90

84

97

90

86

92

 

 

Science

70

79

84

80

87

84

82

82

 

 


District Title One Elementary School Comparison Data

Subject

Percent Passing the 2012-2013 Test Administration

Percent Passing the 2013-2014

Test Administration

Percent Passing the  2014-2015

Test Administration

 

Mason Crest

Fairfax County

Title I Schools Average Pass Rates

Mason Crest

Fairfax County

Title I Schools Average Pass Rates

Mason Crest

Fairfax County

Title I Schools Average Pass Rates

English

84

78

92

81

88

 81.3

Mathematics

93

86

95

84

93

 84.3

History

96

80

97

84

92

 83.6

Science

79

73

87

70

82

 74.0

  • First ever recipient of the DuFour Awaed 2016!

  •   Featured in Solution Tree Online Course Building The Foundation of a Professional Learning Community at Work

  • ●  Wrote a Chapter In It’s About Time Titled ‘Collaboration in the Core’

  • ●  Over 300 Site visits from other educators and school teams since 2012 from as far away as Taiwan and Australia

  • ●  National Video Highlighting our work with English Learners by National Education Association and WETA (Colorin Colarodo Website)

    • ●  Video Crew sent by the DuFours to Highlight our practices

    • ●  2014 The Journal of Mathematics and Science “The Sum of Collaboration:Adding Value To Mathematics Education Through Teamwork” 

     

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