Washington Academic Middle School
- Number of Students: 1,823
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 100%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 44%
- Percent of Special Education: 7%
- White: 7%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 78%
- Asian: 11%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.5%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
- Multiracial: 1%
- Other: 0.5%
The cornerstone of Washington Academic Middle School’s (WAMS) success has been and continues to be our Professional Learning Community (PLC). Our PLC has provided the foundation and collaborative strength we needed to reform our school into what it is today, and currently is providing the vehicle for implementation of the Common Core. Our PLC process is a system based on the trainings of Dr. Richard and Mrs. Rebecca DuFour, in which the central intent is to ensure that students learn, establish a culture of collaboration, and use DATA to drive our instruction. Through this model, since 2005, teachers have formed collaborative teams where they establish norms for accountability, share best practices, build common assessments, revise and build lessons, analyze student results as a team, and engage in ongoing collaboration between their departments both vertically and cross-curricular. Students at Washington Academic Middle School are seen as “every teacher’s students,” and though the concentration of our Four Questions: (What do we want students to learn? How do we know when they’ve learned it? What do we do if they do not learn? and What do we do when they don’t learn?) We have created a model that ensures every child on our campus is receiving a collaboratively and strategically designed equitable education.
This model was adopted in a time of great need for reform at our site. In 2005, student achievement was at its lowest. Our teachers worked in isolation, and Sanger Unified, seeing the need to close the achievement gap of all students, adopted the DuFour PLC model. It took several years of work and building of our systems to refine our model to its present stage; however, once our teachers started centering conversations on student achievement and collaborating on improved instructional practices, the face of WAMS was changed. In each subsequent year, as the PLC model strengthened so did achievement. In 2013 we achieved an API score of 849 collectively and have continued to use our PLC model to smoothly transition into implementation of the Common Core. There will always be a need for this PLC model because as education is ever evolving, it is only through our collaborative team processes that we are successful.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
One of the core values of PLCs is to stay results oriented. Our focus continues to be on student achievement and analysis of DATA to assess student outcomes. Collaboratie teams organize their pacing calendars together and formatively assess students at the same time, which provides opportunity for teachers to create Specific Measurable Attainable Results Oriented and Timely (SMART) goals of where they expect students to perform on their common assessments. Team members regularly bring student work to analyze at meetings, and DATA analysis and reflections are completed as a team after every common assessment. Teachers then analyze common DATA and reflect on best practices. This model also supports staff by allowing team members to brainstorm ways to best overcome challenges they may face if they do not collectively meet their learning goals. Students at WAMS are seen as “everyone’s students,” and when analyzing SMART goal DATA, the achievement of all students is collectively compiled, to once again, fortify our united stance on collaboration.
*An example of a team data reflection to monitor student learning can be found in our resources.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
We have a robust intervention system within our PLC model. When students do not meet the standard(s) on a team common formative assessment Curriculum Support Providers (CSPs) organize a deployment where students who did not meet their SMART goal are retaught and given more strategic instruction based on best practices determined in team DATA analysis. In order to ensure these students do not miss any new instruction, students who did meet their learning goal are given an enrichment activity to further increase their Depth of Knowledge (DOK) on the standards taught. This supports our students who need re-teaching while also enriching the knowledge ans skills of our students who have already met the standard.
*An example of a deployment schedule can be found in our resources.
Many of the best practices shared in collaborative teams are centered on differentiation strategies for special populations, specifically, English Learners, Reclassified students, Special Education students, Socially Economically Disadvantaged, and Advanced students. Our Special Education instructors have their own collaborative team, but also attend the teams of core subjects to collaborate to insure that SPED students are receiving equitable education as well. We have an intervention wheel where students who are identified as below grade level readers, or lacking mathmatical foundational skills are progress monitored so they are placed in the appropriate interventions. These interventions are called Seminars, and they take the place of a student's elective. We have exit criteria for all seminars, and teachers continually assess and monitor, so that when students demonstrate that they no longer need the intervention, they are exited out into an elective. We have a STEM elective after school from 2:55-4:15 so that students who are in a seminar can take an elective course while bridging the gaps in their reading or math.
In addition to seminars, we also have many other interventions at our site all strategically placed throughout the school day to ensure students do not miss any new core instruction. There is a Lunch Homework Lab (LHL) at the first 20 minutes of every lunch for students to complete homework assignments; in addition, we also have a Homework Lab after school everyday from 3:00-4:30. Finally, we have a new up and coming program called "Students With a Goal" (SWAG) targeting students with D's or F's to learn about goal setting, study skills, and work completion opportunities. Creating these systems within our PLC has ensured that our diverse students are receiving the additional time and support for their learning.
Finally, LTEL needs have been at the forefront of team discussions. Every collaborative team member has their LTELs identified on their seating chart with their most current CELDT domains listed. Knowing the specific achievement gaps of our special populations is key in our discussions, and school leadership ensures this is happening through DATA discussions. Subgroups are analyzed and reflected on and teams share this information with their Curriculum Support Providers (CSPs), Vice Principal, and Principal.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Washington Academic Middle School utilizes a system of shared leadership to create high functioning collaborative teams within our PLC model. We have a PLC leadership team which meets monthly with our principal to build leadership capacity and share best practices in meeting facilitaiton, and PLC practices. Scheduled and uninterrupted time is required to set aside for weekly meetings for all departments. Teachers that have stood out as strong leaders and instructors take the role of team Leader and are in charge of developing agendas and facilitating meetings, leading their team to keep focus on the Four Questions: What do we want students to learn, How will we know when they have learned it, What will we do when learning takes place, What will we do if learning does not take place? These four questions are on every agenda and are the focus of team discussions. We have a motto: “It’s all about the learning,” and that is the basis we use for the work we do.
To ensure that the lessons created in our collaborative teams are of quality and carried out in the classroom with fidelity, there are several layers of monitoring that takes place. First, CSPs play an integral role in providing feedback to their teams on lessons they have developed and specifically assess the rigor and relevance of each lesson by analyzing the DOK levels and real-world applications for college and career. CSPs are teachers on special assignment whose core focus is to be an instructional coach both in the class and in lesson planning. There is a strong triangle of communication between teacher, CSP, and administration and teacher developmental plans are inputted collaboratively in individual teacher meetings. The principal has an expectation that CSPs and vice principals do at least two focus walks a week to observe every teacher on their teams and provide feedback though the method of FAST (Fair, Accurate, Specific and Timely). In addition, team leaders meet weekly with their Vice Principal. This model requires collaboration at all levels of leadership, and in turn creates a layer of shared leadership. It has become part of our culture that teachers have frequent visitors in their rooms both for peer observations and administrative observations and a core aspect of how we monitor the effectiveness of the learning at WAMS. By utilizing this system of shared leadership and a school culture of collaboration we have become a high perfoming PLC model school aimed at student achievement.
OLD Data based on CA accountibility system
***See Additional Files uploaded for most current data on (CAASPP)
California Gold Ribbon Award, 2015
National School to Watch 2011, 2014, 2016
CSUF Bonner Character Award, 2013, 2015
PBIS Gold Award, 2014, 2015, 2016
PBIS Silver Award, 2013
Superintendent's Model Arts (SMART) Silver Award, 2015
California Business for Education Excellence Award 2011, 2012,2014
Governor’s Champions for Fitness, 2011
Central Valley Athletic League Supremacy Award 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Region 7 Teacher of the Year for California League of Middle School Finalist
3 Finalist in the past three years of California League of Middle School
Fresno County Teacher of the Year Finalist
Fresno County Administrator of the Year Nominee for Sanger Unified