Jeff Keller •
Marylin Avenue Elementary School • Livermore, California
Marylin Avenue Elementary School
Changing Lives and Inspiring Others to Make a Difference
I started my first year as principal in 2005-2006 at Marylin Avenue Elementary School in Livermore, California. Many challenges faced Marylin upon my arrival. The demographics were shifting. Each year, an increasing number of students qualified for free or reduced lunch. The Hispanic/Latino and the English Language Learner populations were also increasing dramatically. As the population shifted, test scores declined. Marylin's climate was suffering as they dealt with construction and the blending of two staffs due to school closures. This story chronicles how we overcame these challenges and increased student achievement. In the fall of 2005, we formed book clubs reading Reeves, Schmoker, the Dufours, and Eaker. We visited three similar schools that were having greater success with student achievement. We attended PLC Summits and other institutes where we learned to use multiple sources of data for continuous improvement. We began to learn together!! We learned that while we were working hard, we were not focused on what matters most for student achievement. We began to shift from teaching to student learning as we focused on the four questions of PLCs. In the fall of 2006, we drafted a shared mission and vision, analyzed our data, and conducted root cause analyses to develop a two-year Action Plan. The focus of our plan was to identify essential standards and develop common formative assessments. Now, grade level teams use the data team process to target instruction for students and to identify effective teaching practices. After one year, student achievement increased school-wide for every subgroup in ELA and math. This success motivated teachers. Our climate improved because our mission and vision became truly shared by all. After a second year of similar growth, we began to receive a lot of recognition. Bay Area newspapers have written multiple stories, and our district office decided that every school would adopt this work. Dr. Victoria Bernhardt's newest book, Data, Data Everywhere, describes how Marylin Avenue School achieved dramatic results. As a result, the perception of our school our community has changed from being the lowest performing school to being a model for the district.