Grant Line Elementary

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

Since open in 1957, Grant Line Elementary has long been a school loved by its community. Throughout the past 58 years, Grant Line has experienced very little transition among its faculty, staff, and students. In fact, the school has only had three principals in the school’s history. 

In recent years, teachers experienced a transition that took them from working in isolation to working collaboratively for the betterment of students. In 2010 a new superintendent brought a fresh perspective to the New Albany Floyd County Schools. Introducing Professional Learning Communities for the first time the district and Grant Line Elementary set out to make learning our number one priority. District leaders under the passionate leadership of our superintendent brought stakeholders together to implement of a Professional Learning Community district wide. The superintendent set district leaders and building level leaders on course to understand and implement the three big ideas and four essential questions of a Professional Learning Community.

As knowledge and understanding among our school community increase at Grant Line Elementary, our staff turns directly to the three big ideas and four essential questions as the cornerstone for all decisions at Grant Line Elementary. Conversations and the intense focus on the three big ideas and four essential questions have lead to incredible changes in instruction, which is proven in our results. Our State ISTEP+ results along have shown tremendous growth in all areas in the past six years. Our fourth grade math scores soared from just 54% passing in 2008-2009 to 92% passing in 2010-2011. A focus on student learning and implementation of the three big ideas and four essential questions is a direct correlation that 95% of our students regularly passes the state reading assessment - IREAD3.

In the same year that Grant Line began its journey to become a Professional Learning Community, a new principal was also hired. For the first time in two decades Grant Line had a new leader. In that year the principal, along with the leadership team, began to use the work of Rebecca DuFour to create a schedule of uninterrupted blocks of learning, job-embedded collaboration, daily grade level team common plan time, and intervention/ acceleration time. The leadership team put into place systems to support learning and knowing each student by name and need. This meant designing, repurposing, and even seeking new resources to support student learning and results. This shift in thinking has helped to promote collaboration and bring teachers out of working in isolation giving us a very intentional focus on student learning and results.

In the six years since implementation of a Profession Learning Community at Grant Line Elementary, we have seen tremendous growth not only in test scores, but also in the desire for families both within and out of the county to attend Grant Line. Grant Line’s success is no doubt directly correlated to the fact that we have shifted our culture of isolation to a culture of learning, collaboration, and results.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

New Albany Floyd County Schools has developed and maintained a system of assessments designed and implemented by teachers and administrators that inform our instructional decisions and practices. Grant Line Elementary teachers have been regular participants in the process of developing common formative assessments. Our common formative assessments (CFAs) are utilized in all classrooms at Grant Line in each of our five grades (K-4) for both English Language Arts and Math. While there are certainly differences in the CFAs at each of the five grade levels, all CFAs are developed by teachers from across the district. Each of our elementary schools, including Grant Line Elementary, provide teacher representatives that then come together several times a year to write, review, and revise our common formative assessments. In addition to teacher representatives, district math teacher leaders and literacy specialists review and also help revise all common formative assessments. Following our core instruction, which is delivered to all students, a post-test CFA is also administered to each student to measure the effectiveness of our instruction. The post-test utilizes the same concepts, methods, and topics, but uses different problems and examples than our pre-test. Post-tests are an excellent way for the teacher to measure student understanding and growth. With CFA results in hand, teachers work closely to analyze the results and develop improved ways to deliver instruction. Students and teachers strive for at least 80% mastery on each student’s post-test. Classrooms will often have 80%, or “all green”, parties when all students in the class get at least 80% on their post-test. After post-test CFA data is analyzed by teachers at each of our five grade levels, additional supports are then put into place for students that did not master the content. We have scheduled daily time outside of core instruction to support additional needs that students have. We refer to this period of instruction as acceleration time. During this time, we reinforce core instruction and extend the learning of students that have already mastered standards as well as provide more intensive interventions for students that struggle to understand a concept or concepts. In addition to teachers collecting data for review and response, all students at Grant Line Elementary also collect and maintain their data results in a data binder.  Grant Line also uses the DRA2 to determine reading needs three times per year for all grade levels starting with second semester kindergarten year. DRA2 data is used to measure growth in students for guided reading. In addition to CFAs, teachers in all five grade levels write their daily math review. The Daily Math Review (DMR) is used to visit concepts that have already been taught, but need an ongoing review to practice and hone student understanding. DMR assessments are written by teachers based on their student’s individual and collective needs and are changed regularly. Finally, “I can” statements are used in all grades to ensure that students are clear on the skills that they should know and be able to do. Finally, in kindergarten a first grade teachers and students alike monitor data with data binders that include quarterly testing and Jan Richardson’s sight word inventory used on a monthly basis. All of our assessments are common formative and written by teachers in collaboration with each other.

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

There are many elements that influence the creation of quality and timely interventions at Grant Line Elementary. Each day Grant Line teachers set aside time in their schedule for what we call acceleration.  This is the biggest and most measurable positive impact on student success.  Acceleration is a daily period of our instructional day were no new material is introduced, but teachers and support staff instead use this period to provide targeted interventions of support for all students. During acceleration time, grade level teachers might send a student or students to other classrooms and/or teachers and receive students based on the individual student needs. We implement targeted interventions designed by teachers based exclusively on the needs of their students. This process has been very success in putting systems of support in place for students. Our emphasis on targeted and specialized instruction has deepened our understanding of the most effective strategies to support learning. We certainly face several obstacles to creating quality and timely interventions. For example, attendance is frequently a problem for some of our lowest performing students. We have put into place programs and accommodations that include specialized bussing, incentives, and social services to insure students are present, on time, and ready to learn. However, nothing has been more powerful than the use of our acceleration time at building effective systems of intervention at Grant Line. In fact, along with scheduling acceleration time, Grant Line is very particular how we schedule our entire day. Grant Line has created a schedule that serves to support learning throughout the building by ensuring common plan time for grade level teams and developmentally conscious instructional times. Student needs are revealed through data discussions conducted during grade level team meetings, which occur weekly. During grade level meetings, teachers discuss assessments and perform error analysis of the data for which they are then able to build targeted interventions of support for their students during four to six week periods or sometime longer or shorter based on student’s specific needs. Grade level interventions are shared, measured, and monitored closely by the grade level team members and building leadership. Tier three interventions are much more intensive and are developed, implemented, and progress monitored by the classroom teacher with the close support of our RTI committee which is comprised of classroom teachers, school counselor, literacy coach, math teacher leaders, school nurse, school psychologist, and Grant Line’s building leadership team. Our RTI team serves to monitor and build much more intensive interventions that form the tier three level of Pyramid Response to Intervention reflected in the work done by Mr. Mike Mattos. The students are moved into groups—about every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the need and how they perform.

 

List of the researched based interventions used by Grant Line Elementary

  1. Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)
  2. System 44
  3. Read 180
  4. Fluency Development Lesson
  5. Waterford Early Learning Program
  6. Double Dip – Guided Reading Lesson
  7. Small Group Skills Group – Writing, Math
  8. One on One Skills Group – Writing, Math
  9. After School Intervention Groups
  10. Moby Max Program
  11. My ION Reading Program
  12. Breakfast and Lunch Club – Small Group Low Stimulation Environment

 Additional Enrichment Opportunities

  1. Student based clubs – Examples: Lego, Climbing, Drama, Ski, Robotics, Chess, Various Sports Clubs
  2. Student Council
  3. Excel Program
  4. Spell Bowl Team – State and Local Competitions
  5. Math Bowl Team - State and Local Competitions
  6. All Pro Dads
  7. Book Club
  8. Mentor Mii
  9. After School Rocks – After School Based Social and Academic Program

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

Grant Line has placed tremendous focus on building teacher capacity and high performing collaborative teams in the past six years. As mentioned in Grant Line’s PLC journey above, we have moved from a place of isolation to a place of collaboration and support. Each day of the week for example, Grant Line teachers share strategically important common planning times.  Teachers meet once a week with building leadership in grade level team meetings and once a week during our collaboration period after school with other grade level teams or the entire school. Our Collaboration time is used to discuss data at the school level as well as discuss, plan for, and implementation of curricular changes. During these meetings, which are held in the “hive”, as we refer to our data and planning room, all members of the grade level teams along with the principal, assistant principal, counselor, and special services meet. The purpose of utilizing the “hive” is simply that the room serves as a common meeting place and is equipped with the tools to support collaboration. For example, the room houses all the school’s student performance and assessment data, refreshments, and technological tools needed to break down and discuss student data. The room is a place of comfort and information about every student’s name and need. Outside of a common place, we also have a common purpose for the grade level team meetings. Grade level team meeting are very intently focused on instructional practices. With regard to instruction, we also use these grade level team meetings as a place to discuss, revise, and adapt instructional methods and techniques. We will regularly take time to watch videos of best practice and discuss the need for additional training and resources. The second focus of the meeting is used to explicitly discuss and build systems of support for every student based on need. Our grade level teams work to discuss the needs of students and then find or create resources during this time that supports students. In addition to our daily common planning time and weekly grade level team collaboration time, we also meet every Wednesday in order to collectively establish and work to accomplish instructional improvements through whole group or grade level team professional development based activities. Also, at least one Wednesday and sometimes two Wednesdays a month an after school collaboration is scheduled for the purpose of Response to Intervention. After school collaborations used for RTI are often focused on students with the greatest academic and developmental needs. We therefore will involve many stakeholders including grade level teachers, counselors, literacy and math curriculum specialists, building leadership, and special services including school psychologists. This group has one purpose, to find a resource and/or instructional method needed to support student need by through collaboration.

In an effort to foster student learning and build a capacity of understanding, representatives from each school, including Grant Line were sent to the district to develop collective commitments which are used to define the quality and expectation of instruction including assessment and collaboration. Collective commitments have also been developed and implemented for students and our parent teacher organization as well. At Grant Line Elementary, high performing collaborative teams include building a comprehensive understanding or expertise in the core instructional areas so that our teachers collectively communicate the same understanding and laser like focus of our instructional practices. This is accomplished through quality coaching and modeling in our core instructional areas during our grade level team meetings and after school collaboration times as well as during collaboration times outside the weekly scheduled collaboration. Teachers discuss and model instructional methods with each other and with instructional specialists. Grant Line Elementary also uses deliberate approaches to our core instruction by selecting research based instructional practices and then implementing them to fidelity as part of our collective commitments. For example, all teachers follow Dr. Jan Richardson’s research and strategies on emergent, transitional, and fluent readers. Teachers also plan using Dr. Richardson’s templates keeping the language and tools for instruction easily understood from teacher to teacher or grade level to grade level. This is also true of our math instruction.  We follow Dr. Larry Ainsworth and Dr. Jan Christenson’s “Five Easy Steps to a Balanced Math Program”. This program is researched based and has proven very successful. In both ELA and math, the above-mentioned researchers have come to our school and district to work directly with teachers to hone their skills and understanding of the instruction. By working directly with the researchers and authors we have built expertise in our teacher and building leadership, which allows for more effective collaboration.

We have provided three consecutive years of student data. However, the growth prior to this three-year period cannot be understated. Improvement began in 2009-2010 under the direction and leadership of Dr. Bruce Hibbard, our district’s Superintendent. In that year, Dr. Hibbard introduced the concepts of a Professional Learning Community, and our journey to become a successful PLC began. Prior to 2010 only 50% and 60% of our students were receiving a passing score. In fact, in the fall of 2007 the school posted just a 60% passing score in ELA as opposed to fall of 2010 passing score of 85%. Another good example would be our fall of 2009 ELA scores in 3rd grade show only 59% of students with passing scores. In 2010, following our first full year as a Professional Learning Community scores dramatically improved by as much 20% and even 30% students receive a passing score. That said, it should be pointed out that Grant Line’s fourth grade posted a decline in their upward growth however in 2014 in our ELA scores on the State assessment. There were many factors that played a role in this decline with the most notable factor being a new standardized test being implemented across the State that included the introduction and implementation of new target indicators. The same student population a year earlier had more than a 90% of our students with a passing rate on the State reading assessment. Grant Line sees the decline in our 4th grade scores as a major concern. We have implemented a series of professional development sessions and strategies to improve how we deliver instruction and have brought all teachers together to discuss vertical and horizontal articulation of the curriculum. Finally, Grant Line continues to do error analysis of common formative assessment and state assessment data in order for teachers to understand the quality of certain instructional methods versus other methods.

IREAD3 – State Reading Assessment

 

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

 

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

Grade 3

% Students Passed

89.1%

87%

85.7%

92.4%

93.5%

91.4%

96.1%

91.7%

90.8%

93.8%

90.9%

90.7%

 Also, a second factor that should be noted is the complexity of our student population and the change that has occurred in the past six years. A rise in students qualifying for free and reduced lunch along with students with complex medical and special needs have added challenges. We serve a growing population of students that come from low-income housing, single-parent homes, and other student or family based crises situations. Despite these changes in population our results have continued to improve.

ELA

2012

2013

2014

 

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

 

Grade 3

85%

81%

76%

82%

77%

76%

85%

76%

75%

 

Grade 4

70%

77%

73%

76%

81%

77%

68%

75%

78%

 

Overall

83%

82%

79%

86%

82%

80%

88%

82%

80%

 

Math

2012

2013

2014

 

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

GL

Corp

State

 

Grade 3

88%

86%

80%

83%

80%

80%

87%

80%

81%

 

Grade 4

82%

87%

79%

91%

88%

84%

71%

81%

83%

 

Overall

85%

89%

81%

87%

89%

83%

80%

87%

84%

 

Both ELA/ Math

2012

2013

2014

 

77%

79%

72%

79%

78%

74%

77%

77%

75%

 

Grant Line continues to strive to reach our goal of becoming a Four Star School.  In the first year of implementation of a Professional Learning Community, Grant Line’s growth was so strong that the school was awarded the letter grade of “A” by the Indiana Department of Education.  We continue to work collectively to support students according to their individual needs. As mentioned above, the largest growth occurred in the year following the 2010 implementation of our PLC, but being a PLC has continued to foster exciting growth. Fourth grade scores present our greatest challenge. Close to half of our fourth grade population receives free and reduced lunch and therefore require additional supports to ensure success. Therefore, many of these students require more time and support to master the standards presented in fourth grade. The implementation of the interventions provided daily allows us to match the quality intervention to the student. Mr. Mike Matto's research and work have had a profound impact on how we support student needs at Grant Line Elementary. Using Mr. Matto’s Pyramid of Intervention for example has greatly increased how we organize and target studnts’ needs. Finally, while our growth in our State performance data shows in many places large growth compared to State and District improvement, the real success is the mentality of Grant Line’s teachers. Anyone visiting Grant Line Elementary will find a teaching staff deeply committed to student learning and success. A tremendous emphasis has been placed on the three big ideas of a PLC that in the years prior to 2010 were simply not present. Grant Line will continue to grow in a positive direction thanks to teacher’s laser like focus on every student’s name and need.

* 2010 “A” School

* 2011 “B” School

* 2010-2014 – 96% Attendance or better each year

* 2011- 2014 95% or more of our student pass the state IREAD Exam

* 2014 Million Minute Challenges – Every student in the school reads daily in the evening and we tally the minutes read. The goal is to read more than a million minutes a single year.

*2011-2015   Each year we have had between 40 and 50 out of county transfers

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