Clinton Community School District
- Number of Students: 3,763
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 61%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1%
- Percent of Special Education: 14%
Schools in District
Eagle Heights Elementary
Clinton Middle School
Clinton High School
- White: 76%
- Black: 8%
- Hispanic: 8%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 7%
- Other: 0%
Our journey to creating highly functioning PLCs for every teacher, in every school within the Clinton Community School District, began with an honest look at our results. When we candidly analyzed our current status we found isolated areas of excellence around the district and these exemplars were generally attributable to the specific skill sets of individual teachers. The question became clear, How do we help ALL teachers to be more effective?
With the desire to find a better way to help all teachers positively impact student learning, in the summer of 2011, we took our entire administrative team to a PLC Institute in St. Charles. After attending this three-day institute every administrator saw the potential that adopting the PLC concepts and philosophy would have on the students and teachers in each of their buildings. As a result of the bonding and consensus building time in St. Charles, the entire administrative team agreed to provide leadership toward establishing successful PLCs in each of their buildings.
At the Back-to-School All Staff Meeting held that fall, the Superintendent and Curriculum Director set the stage for the PLC role out by carefully explaining the philosophy around the three PLC pillars: Learning, Collaboration and Results. The case was made that if we were going to increase student success, we had to focus on student learning, not instruction; create the environment for teachers to work together to solve complex problems and learn from one another; and use student learning results to guide and define their work.
Throughout our initial year of implementation principals worked with teachers to learn about the four PLC questions, the importance of norms, developing mind sets away from “my kids” towards “our kids,” how to work together to identify and select essential standards, and how to unpack standards and develop formative assessments. Within the year each principal was successful in leading their staff to consensus that the PLC structure provided the best hope to help all students find success. Once consensus for PLCs was reached, schedules were developed in each building to assure all teachers belonged to a PLC team and that they had a minimum of sixty minutes of collaborative work time each week to respond to the four questions.
The adoption of the PLC model in all schools within the Clinton Community School District has been accompanied by numerous acknowledgements and awards recognizing Clinton Schools as some of the best in the country. In 2015, Whittier Elementary School was presented as a National Blue Ribbon Award winner, Clinton High School was identified by U.S. News and World Report as being among the nation’s top high schools, and the Clinton School District was designated as a District of Distinction by District Administration magazine, one of only 49 nationwide.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
District-wide Promise Standards have been identified and aligned PreK-12 for all content areas. Common Formative Assessments (CFAs) are used continuously by PLCs to determine which students are mastering the learning targets for each promise standard and which students need more time and support. By student, by standard, each PLC knows where their children are at in relation to each learning target and promise standard. Summative assessments for each promise standard have been developed and inform teachers regarding which students need continuing support.
Universal screening (FAST at elementary and NWEA MAP at middle school) is given three times per year to all students. Each school has a School-Wide Intervention Team whose responsibility it is, in part, to review universal screening results and assign Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. Accordingly, Iowa Assessment results are analyzed annually by PLCs, Building Leadership Teams, Instructional Coaches and district administrative teams to determine professional development needs to increase effectiveness of instruction.
Our high school has developed a uniquely comprehensive support system to monitor individual student learning. Focusing on course failures in general education classes, students receiving a “C” or lower in AP classes, attendance and behavior, each of the 1100 students are monitored weekly to determine if and when individual support is needed. The outcomes of these efforts are clear and compelling. Course failures have decreased by over 75%. Graduation and rigorous course enrollments are up significantly. As a result of their successes, Clinton High School has been cited as a school of distinction by Solution Tree and is the focus of an RtI at Work Case Study.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Using the Pyramid of Interventions framework, each school’s Building Leadership Team has developed a comprehensive intervention structure. At Tier 1 the focus is on providing quality core instruction. To assure teachers have the skills to deliver effective instruction, ongoing professional development is delivered around two key initiatives, implementation of the Iowa Core Curriculum and effective use of the Gradual Release instructional framework by Fisher and Frey. PLCs provide the setting for teachers to work together to assure these initiatives are implemented to fidelity. Within the PLC time, teachers also regularly compare student learning results and engage in conversation on the effectiveness of instructional strategies being selected and used.
Tier 2 in each building is intended to provide additional time for students who are struggling to learn what is being taught in the classroom. This extra support is provided in small groups and may be delivered by the classroom teacher or by another teacher from the PLC. Each building has time set aside each day, designated as an Intervention Block, to provide this additional learning time.
Tier 3 is for students who have been identified, through Universal Screening or through lack of success at Tier 2, as needing significant and immediate help. These students are provided additional, small group learning time, that is above and beyond any Tier 1 or Tier 2 supports that are already in place. Each building has a School-Wide Intervention Team whose responsibility it is to coordinate building resources and schedules toward helping these students find success. All students at Tier 2 and Tier 3 receive progress monitoring to determine the effectiveness of interventions that have been selected.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
At the start of our journey, the creation of highly effective inter-reliant teams began with professional development activities at the building level, as teachers and principals learned together about the PLC process. DVDs from Solution Tree were used to communicate key concepts in a consistent manner throughout the district. Together, staffs learned everything from the importance of norms to the unwrapping process, all of which led to each building reaching consensus that the PLC structure offered the best process and hope for improved student learning.
After the initial training activities, experts from Solution Tree were brought to the district to help teachers learn and grow in all areas related to PLCs. Chris Jakicic, Charlie Coleman and Mike Mattos were instrumental in the development of our understanding and growth. Individual schools were given budgets to attend PLC institutes and workshops. They also were provided funds to purchase support materials for study groups.
Sixty minutes of uninterrupted time each week was created and set aside within the school day for PLCs to accomplish their work. Forms for PLC agendas were established and digitized. Processes to compare student outcomes between teachers were established. Principals monitored individual PLCs, providing more direct support when needed.
To assure clarity of purpose a Tight/Loose document was developed by central office administration to communicate expectations for all staff in relation to their contribution to the PLC team. (See appendix). To monitor implementation throughout the district, all staff are surveyed annually to determine additional training needs and support for all aspects associated with PLCs. Individual PLCs reflect on their effectiveness using a 1, 5, 10 rubric provided by Mike Mattos. (See appendix). Five times each year, administrators present Stewardship Reports to one another on the progress their buildings are making to meet student learning needs through PLCs.
At monthly school board meetings, PLCs from designated buildings share how they are working together to help students learn. These presentations, beyond helping the School Board and community to better understand how PLCs are impacting student learning, serve to reinforce in teachers’ minds the importance and effectiveness of their collaborative work.
Most recently, a variety of teacher leadership positions have been created that directly support the ongoing effectiveness of PLCs. Through the state of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership Compensation Grant, the district has been able to establish PLC Leaders and Instructional Coaches in each building. These positions serve to provide increased support and enhancement of effective PLCs.
Additional Achievement Data
Percentage of students proficient: Clinton District Scores/State of Iowa Scores
Comparison Data: Iowa Assessments
* Data Not Available
Additional results indicating success of PLC and RtI implementation.
2011 Breaking Barriers Award, State of Iowa
2012 Breaking Barriers Award, State of Iowa
2014 Best Instructional Practices – District has been highlighted with articles and mentions by SAI, IDE, ASCD, IASB, ISEA, AEA, SAEA, and District Administration magazine
2014 Best High School by US News and World Report
2014 National District of Distinction (@DA Magazine, November 2014)
2014 State of Iowa ESL Teacher of the Year
2014 Membership on Iowa Department of Education Leadership Committees
2014 Homeland Security recognition as Exemplar in K-12 School Safety Management and Planning
2014 Featured School in @Solution Tree Advertisement, Education Weekly Magazine (Dec. 14, 2014)
2014 Superintendent Invitation and Participant at White House Future Ready Summit
2015 Best High School by US News and World Report
2015 Whittier Elementary - Blue Ribbon School Designation
2015 Teacher Leadership Compensation Grant Awardee
2015 Solution Tree – RtI that Works - Model Site
2015 Iowa Association of School Board, Superintendent Award of Achievement
2015 Clinton Middle School – Gear Up Grant Awardee
2015 Clinton Community School District Teacher Leadership Grant
2015 – Bluff and Eagle Heights Elementary Schools removed from SINA Reading & Math
2015 – Jefferson Elementary removed from SINA Math
2015 – Clinton District Removed from DINA Reading
2015 - Graduation Rate has increased 9% in the last 4 years
2015 – Clinton High School Behavior Referrals decreased 29% from last year
2015 – Clinton High School Attendance has risen 1.5% in the last three years