Fruita Middle School

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

The magnificent and resilient staff at Fruita Middle School began the journey to become a PLC school in 2011.  At the time, our teachers functioned fairly well independently with pockets of cohesiveness, but interdependence was not the norm.  Data in 2011 indicated that the organizational health of the staff was very low.  While the principal had a vision for true PLCs, too many organizational health issues were in the way to begin immediately.  Administration began the journey that fall by looking at the brutal facts.  Students were being taught the curriculum, but there was not a focus on learning essential curriculum.  Overall achievement scores were good, but not what all students needed to be on a trajectory of success towards graduation.

Positive movement began when a group consisting of Fruita Middle School administration, teachers, and classified staff members attended training where a seed of the benefits of collaborative decision-making was planted. This group of leaders came back to literally burn up the old ways of blame and independence to start a new pathway of interdependence, where decisions would be made collaboratively that were in the best interest of students.

A fledgling instructional leadership team began with the first task of ensuring that all grade and subject specific leaders would define and measure essential skills for all students.  These collaborative teams picked two to four essential skills that the team could agree on that all students needed to know and be able to do throughout the year.  These essential skills were posted and tracked on thermometers that showed the skill being measured, the team that was measuring it, the most recent data of the percentage of students who were proficient in the skill, and the date the thermometer was last updated.  Logistically, schedules were changed so that teams could meet each week for collaboration on essential skills.  Schedules were changed again to also accommodate prescribed intervention time for students who had not mastered essential skills.

As we continued shoring up organizational health issues, and the staff could see the success and excitement of working as an interdependent Professional Learning Community, we were ready to collaboratively determine our reason to exist - our mission statement. With momentum moving in a positive direction, the staff was ready to create our shared vision statement - one that we believed we could become and one that anyone could envision. Our vision was simple to understand, however, it was (and is) not easy to do. We would no longer blame others for not preparing students, and even though it is not our fault that incoming students lack essential skills, we have accepted that it is our problem to solve.

In the fall of 2014, three staff members attended a PLC at Work conference in Denver Colorado, with a special invitation from Rick DuFour to the principal of Fruita Middle School, as the principal had been published in The Kappan for a piece on PLCs.  The enthusiasm of those returning from the conference sparked more excitement with the rest of the instructional leadership team, who decided the entire staff should read "Learning By Doing."  We are now realizing our vision:

Fruita Middle School's interdependent teams work together to define, measure, intervene, and extend essential academic skills.

New staff members are quickly absorbed into our collaborative, results-oriented culture.  All teachers are able to pass along their teaching knowledge when their results on common assessments exceed that of their colleagues - when it is not just an opinion of what is working, but data from common assessments is backing it up.  Collaborative teams are producing the products that show they are working through the process of bringing our vision to reality - and students are the winners!

By 2014, of the eight middle schools in our district, only our school was recognized for growing students above the Colorado state median in every tested subject, in every grade, and in every subgroup of students.

By 2016, the organizational health results at FMS had moved to the highest levels! 

Also in 2016, our PARCC assessment results showed FMS' strong growth and achievement results at some of the highest levels in our 20,000+ student school district, indicating that achievement, growth, and organizational health can all rise for the benefit of students.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Teachers in subject and grade specific collaborative teams begin measuring student achievement of agreed upon essential skills very quickly into each unit of study.  This is monitored so that students know whether they have met the skill or not, teachers know which students need an intervention, and teachers are able to find out if their teaching was as effective as their colleagues.  Student data on essential skills is measured in each teacher's classroom so that teachers as well as students remain focused on proficiency on the essentials. Several examples of the types of visual tracking our teachers are using are attached. Students not able to meet essential skills after repeated attempts are placed into an intervention class to continue to work on those essential skills.

 

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

We have created within our scheduled day a time called Ac Lab.  Ac Lab is a 40-minute time for all teachers to intervene on essential academic skills with struggling learners, and a time to enrich the curriculum for students who are performing at or above expectations.  Students in the middle who sometimes need an intervention, but not always are in a reading class, so that they can be quickly pulled when needed, but get additional reading and study time most days.  Students who are not struggling are assigned an enrichment class during Ac Lab, such as rocketry, Spanish, coding, earbook, written and illustrated books, and music ensemble. 

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

Our school schedule was altered to ensure that our collaborative teams could meet twice weekly during the school day.  Teams have products that are due in each unit of study to keep the team focused on student and adult learning.  Each unit of study has products that are due for review by the principal.  While the process is more important than the products, the products help guide discussions to ensure that teachers remain focused on students who need additional time and support to master essentials.  The products our teams are using are attached.  When teachers need more collaboration time, they are able to take advantage of a full day of team time without having to make lesson plans for a substitute in a cooperative effort with the school librarian.  Teacher teams can take this time up to twice per month, if needed.  Additionally, teachers are required to share results on the common assessments to determine which lessons were more efffective at producing higher results.  These discussions are our main driver of professional development.

Median Growth Percentile

2013 (TCAP)

2014 (TCAP)

*2016 (PARCC)

6th grade ELA

55 reading, 45 writing

61 reading, 53 writing

60

7th grade ELA

57 reading, 49 writing

54 reading, 58 writing

48

6th grade Math

62

77

72

7th grade Math

60

51

55

TCAP (State of Colorado Summative Assessment, prior to PARCC)

*2015 not included, as PARCC was a new assessment and growth data could not be computed

The State of Colorado uses a growth model to determine a school's median growth percentile in comparison to other Colorado schools.  For comparison purposes, the state median growth percentile is 50.

The State of Colorado School Growth Summary for 2014 is attached.  Schools and grade levels with numbers above 50 - colored green in the table for easy reference- are growing as fast or at a faster rate than the state.  FMS is noteworthy in that in 2014, every subgroup, in every tested subject, and in every grade is colored green.

Also included is the School Growth Summary for 2016 (2015 not included, as PARCC was new that year, thus no growth data for that year is available).  FMS has the highest growth in Math and English Language Arts in both grades of all district middle schools.

2014 District 51 Foundation Outstanding School for student academic growth

Exemplary Band awards

Exemplary Orchestra awards

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