Mountain Meadow Elementary School

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

At Mountain Meadow, every Monday morning begins with a sacred gift – the gift of time – time to collaborate within Professional Learning Communities teams. This time is protected. There is nothing more valuable than the work of the PLC.  Every Monday morning students arrive one hour late, giving teachers uninterrupted PLC time to focus on the success of their students. Teachers and administrators understand the importance of this precious gift, nothing else is scheduled Monday mornings. The work of the PLC always takes priority.  

It’s a journey that began at Mountain Meadow 18 years ago with Principal Janel Keating, who did everything in her power to snatch a few minutes here or there so teachers could collaborate to improve student learning.  Over time, that vision led to a systematic approach to increase student learning based on the foundation of our work in Professional Learning Communities.  This approach has transitioned more from a focus of teaching to a focus on student learning. The heart of our Professional Learning Communities is “How can we ensure high levels of learning for every child?” To do this, our teachers concentrate on the four guiding questions of a PLC:

  1. What do we want the students to know?
  2. How will we know if they know it?
  3. What will we do if they haven’t learned it?
  4. What will we do if they have learned it?

What do we want our students to know begins with a guaranteed and viable curriculum to ensure every student at every grade level has the same learning opportunities.  The primary work for this is centered on unit planning.  For each unit of instruction, teacher teams identify standards that will be taught and specific skills that are essential for students.  Teachers determine instructional strategies used during core instruction and create student friendly learning targets and success criteria to support student learning.

Based on the unit plans, teachers use common formative assessments to determine student mastery.  This includes a unit assessment, but also small formative assessments along the way to monitor student performance.  These assessments give teachers the data needed to make instructional decisions based on the needs of their students.

Teachers use student data to drive intervention and enrichment groups to meet the needs of the students.  At every level, 1st-5th grade, intervention time in ELA and math is built into the master schedule.  Teachers determine interventions needed to support student mastery of a skill. Paraeducators are involved in planning and instruction to give small group support to students not meeting standard on a specific target. Teachers also plan enrichment groups for students already meeting standard so they receive additional time in their area of need, which might include relevant, real life problem solving related to the standard.

In 5he 2020-21 school year, we obviously had a unique challenge in that Mountain Meadow had to pivot multiple times to different models of instrution and learning. We began the school year in distance learning with all students working from home.  In October, some students returned to the building for 2 hours sessions in the afternoon for additional in person time and support from their teacher.  In December, we then transitioned to an AM/PM model with half the students came in the AM and half of the students came in the PM for in person instruction.  Finally, in March we transitioned back to full time in person instruction for the vast majority of students, while also maintaining some students in distance learning.    However, what we found is that while our instructional models might look a little different, the power of the PLC remained.  Every Monday, our teachers still brought student work to the table. Our teams consistently collaborated on instruction, intervention, and assessments  Our teams still needed to use the four guiding questions of the PLC.  We continued this work throughout the year and students continued to learn at high levels. 

Our consistent focus on student learning and the four guiding questions has led to increased student achievement and provided teachers with job embedded professional development to improve their professional practice.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

High quality, solid core instruction is a critical component of student learning. Core instruction begins with grade level teams building units of instruction across content areas.  Grade level teams begin by identifying the important standards that need to be taught.  This leads to intended outcomes of instruction and what we want our students to be able to do after completing the unit.  Grade level teams determine student friendly learning targets to ensure students are working towards mastery during the course of the unit.  grade levteams choose a common pacing guide to help ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum across all grade level classes.

 All units start with a pre-assessment to determine mastery of prerequisite skills.  Pre-assessment data helps teachers make instructional decisions based on the needs of their students.  Teachers continue to monitor student progress in a variety of ways including checks for understandings, tickets out the door, and a formative assessment.  Teams analyze these formative assessments to make instructional decisions to support student learning.  Teams respond to the data in a variety of ways including re-teaching, small group intervention, partner work, or individual time and support.  

Teachers continue to enhance their unit plans by reflecting upon the earlier unit. Reflections include instructional strategies that help teach a specific concept, interventions to aid in a specific skill, possible misconceptions, and formative assessments that lead to understanding of student mastery.  Moving forward, teachers have high quality unit plans with proven success to support teachers when teaching that same unit next year.  This is especially effective when new teachers join a team, as there is a unit plan and a PLC in place to support them.

For the 2018-19 school year we were able to continue on with our typical instructional model until mid-March.  Obviously when the pandemic hit we had monitor student learning in a different way.  Teachers had to collaborate to determine what student work will look like while students are at home. What are the essential standards that must be learned for students to be prepared for their next step.  Teachers used a variety of models to determine student work including flipgrid, seesaw, small formative checks on zoom, and most importantly they sat down with kids one on one and asked them to show how they solved a problem or found an answer on zoom.  Then, teachers could give immediate feedback to support student learning.  While our instructional model might look different the expectation for student learning remained the same.  

 

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

At Mountain Meadow, students are provided additional time and support in a variety of ways.  This multi-layer arrangement includes: small group intervention and instruction in the classroom; Tier 2 interventions in both ELA and math, where all students receive intervention, enrichment, and support based on their learning needs; and a Tier 3 intervention for students who are well below benchmark, a triple dip to provide these students an additional support to help them be more successful in core instruction and close the achievement gap.  

Intervention begins in the classroom during core instruction when a small group of students receive additional time and support from the classroom teacher on a specific skill.  The time and intensity in these intervention groups is extremely fluid as students may move through this quickly if they show growth. These groups are constantly changing based on formative assessments and progress monitoring.  

In addition, an intervention block is part of our master schedule in all grade levels in ELA and m to provide every student an additional intervention or enrichment based on assessment data.  Teachers and administration meet in Response to Intervention teams every six weeks to review data and make instructional decisions based on that data.  Using student data, teachers and paraeducators provide intervention based on skills.  The students who are farthest below benchmark receive intervention in the smallest groups with our most qualified teachers.  Students at or above benchmark receive enrichment to help support their learning needs.  This group may be a much larger group where teachers facilitate the learning and students work through project based learning.  Intervention is never cancelled, and taught with fidelity to maximize learning opportunities.

Students who fall far below benchmark also receive an additional triple dip during their day.  These students are identified based on their data. This very small group or individual intervention provides a re-teaching or pre-teaching of skills to help the student be more successful in core instruction.  This additional support is another way to support students and close the achievement gap. The collaborative team determines the time and intensity of support.

This is another issue that obviously was impacted by the pandemic and school being moved to distance learning.  However, our goal couldn't change.  We still needed to provide additional time and support for students who needed it based on formative assessment data.  Our intervention blocks stayed the same, they just moved to small group zooms with teachers and paraeducators.  These small groups focused on tier 2 skills students needed to access and be successful with grade level standards.  Students used PLC time to plan the interventions students needed and then developed small formative assessments to track their growth in the intervention.  Once again, just because school looked different didn't mean our model for interventions had to change.  

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

Building high performing, collaborative teams is a critical component of the PLC process.  This begins with late start Monday, where every grade level team has time to work collaboratively and uninterrupted.  This time is treasured and no other meetings are scheduled during this time.  The work of a PLC always takes precedence.

Grade level teams also have additional time built into their contract to work as a team.  Teachers use the time to continue their work as a collaborative team, typically focusing on unit planning, creating common formative assessments, and planning for interventions/enrichment to increase student learning.  In addition, all teams have common planning to ensure additional time to focus on the work of the team.  

Another area to build capacity is by working with team leaders.  Each grade level has a Team Leader to guide the work of the PLC.  The Team Leader assists the team in establishing norms, roles, and accountability protocols to maximize the effectiveness of the team.  Team Leaders also meet regularly with administrators to focus on the school improvement process. The Leadership Team then reviews school and grade level data to set SMART goals. The Leadership Team meets throughout the year to review data as it relates to meeting our SMART goals.

Members of the Mountain Meadow grade level teams are also often members of district wide PLC teams.  They become part of the teacher leadership that provides the framework or skeletal structure that support building teams in the instructional decisions they make and the planning they do together.

In White River, we have both an Elementary Math and ELA team.  These learning leaders consist of members from all grade levels and all schools. The Mountain Meadow staff is represented by teacher leaders in both teams.  They have been involved determining Power Standards, constructing scope and sequence, creating district wide common assessments, and surfacing needs for ongoing embedded professional learning. There is such power to this work because there is consistency across buildings at each grade level, as well as a strong vertical alignment across grade levels.

These teacher leaders are able to bring their understanding of the district level work back to their teams.  With a common and clear district wide structure in place, developed by the ELA and Math Teacher Leadership Team, building teams can get down to the important detailed planning around learning targets related to power standards, common team generated formative assessments, daily lessons, data analysis and intervention planning.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

 

 Mountain Meadow Elementary 2019-20 Achievement Data Narrative

Mountain Meadow students did not complete a school wide benchmark assessment at the end of the 2019-20 school year because of the pandemic.  However, instruction, intervention, and assessment continued throughout through distance learning. Our file attachments includes data from 2016-2019 on our SBA data including number of students meeting and exceeding standard in reading and math.  The data also includes the number of students that were intensive or high risk on both SBA and benchmarks.  Also there is disaggregated data to show how ELL, SPED, and Low Income students performed and their growth rate in both Math and ELA relating to the state averages.  

Finally, it is important to have some evidence that learning continued during the pandemic.  How do we know if our students continued to learn.  At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year our students continued in distance learning.  However, we knew we needed to find a way to assess our students with our AIMSWEB Benchmark Assessment.  1st graders were able to test in person for math and ELA.  2nd Graders were able to test in person for ELA.  3-5 grade, and 2nd grade math had to take their benchmark assessment from home with support from their teacher and proctored by someone at home.  It wasn't an ideal way to assess our students, but there were many questions we needed answered to help support our instructional and intervention plan for this year.  Did students continue to learn from home?  Are they now able to access next grade level standards?  How does our data compare to previous years?  What we found was encouraging and motivating for our teachers.  Last year, Mountain Meadow consisted of 1st-5th grade classes (Kindergarten moved to our district early learning center), so we wanted to analyze our benchmark results for current 3rd-5th grade students (those students all took the same benchmark for ELA and Math in both years). Those are the students that attended Mountain Meadow last year.In 3rd-5th grade are results look very similar to previous years. What students learned last year they retained and are now able to apply those standards this year in their new grade level.  Here are the results for those grades based on cohort (how did the same students perform in the fall in 2019 vs. 2020)

3rd Grade ELA:

Fall 2019: 71% Benchmark, 13% Intensive

Fall 2020: 86% Benchmark, 8% Intensive

3rd Grade Math: 

Fall 2019: 59% Benchmark, 13 Intensive

Fall 2020: 68% Benchmark 12 Intensive

4th Grade ELA:

Fall 2019: 79% Benchmark, 4% Intensive

Fall 2020: 88% Benchmark, 4% Intensive

4th Grade Math:

Fall 2019: 78% Benchmark, 9% Intensive

Fall 2020: 82% Benchmark, 7% Intensive

5th Grade ELA:

Fall 2019: 82% Benchmark, 9% Intensive

Fall 2020: 88% Benchmark, 5% Intensive

5th Grade ELA: 

Fall 2019: 82% Benchmark, % Intensive

Fall 2020: 88% Benchmark, 5% Intensive

5th Grade Math:

Fall 2019: 82% Benchmark, 3% Intensive

Fall 2020: 83% Benchmark, 7% Intensive

Every grade level and assessment had more students at benchmark than the year before in Math and ELA.  Every Grade, but 5th grade math had less kids intensive than the year before.  This shows our school that are kids continued to learn.  That what we taught them last year and in previous years was retained.  That our students are able to successfully access grade level standards in their new grade level.  We now know our model of Instruction, intervention, and assessment is successful when done with fidelity in our collaborative culture.  We just need to keep pushing and be ready to pivot when all of our students are allowed in building.  

2019 Dufour Award Finalist

2015 Washington Achievement Award

 
2016 Washington Achievement Award
 
Solution Tree Model PLC 2016
 
Solution Tree Model PLC 2017
 
Solution Tree Model PLC 2018
 
Solution Tree Model PLC 2019
 
During the 2019-20 school year, Mountain Meadow Elementary students completed over 1,000,000 Math problems on IXL.
 
Principal Jeff Byrnes and the 4th grade team  presented at a Solution Tree PLC conference in Seattle in August of 2017 & 2018.
 
A member of the 2nd grade team presented at a Solution Tree PLC Conference in August of 2018.
 
Washington State Academic Improvement Award in Reading, Writing, and Math
 

Mountain Meadow hosts PLC Site visitors from across the country multiple times per year to see effective PLC’s in action

Mountain Meadow staff presentated to Masters of Education Leadership students from the University of Washington on the power of the PLC.

 

Mountain Meadow Elementary School staff members have been featured in books written by Dr. Robert Eaker and Janel Keating

 

Hosting 30 Instructional Coaches from the Oregon Department of Education to observe Mountain Meadow Professional Learning Communities and answer questions with Mountain Meadow Administration.

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