Hidden River Middle School

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

In 2013 the dedicated staff at Hidden River embarked on our PLC journey.  Frustration at was at an all-time high and our annual climate and culture survey data was lower than ever in almost every category.  In a school with roughly one fourth the number of students as our feeder high school, we had twice the number of students failing.  Team meetings at that time consisted mostly of nuts and bolts items and logistical to-do lists, rarely focusing on student learning.  Our Building Leadership Team meetings were largely complaint sessions, with each represented department submitting their frustrations around student disrespect, gum chewing, hats in the building, and lunchroom behavior.  Student performance on our state assessment that year was abysmal, especially when analyzing student growth.  In short, we had an amazing group of well-intended staff members with no direction or common goal. As frustrations boiled over, our brave staff began to get real with our data and our circumstance, realizing that something needed to be done, but not sure what the answer was. That year a small team of teachers and administrators attended an RTI workshop in San Diego with Mike Mattos and so began our journey.

Our first step was to create Hawk Time, a 25 minute intervention period at the end of the day for struggling students.  Carving time out of the master schedule was easy, but using it effectively wasn’t.  Hawk Time was basically a study hall, but we were proud that we had taken steps in the right direction.  Coming into year two of our journey, our leadership team realized that we needed to lay the foundation for why we exist at Hidden River and a plan for where we were headed.  Our team spent a day with Bruce Brown from Proactive Coaching that summer, thinking about our core values and how we would behave as a staff to create the type of school that we would want for our own children.  As our staff came together in August, we agreed upon our core values and we outlined our mission and vision for the school we wanted to be.  This was huge for us … we were now on the same bus, heading in the same direction, and the amazing talents and skills of our staff could be unleashed to do great things for kids. 

In year two (2014-15) our teams began to define their essential standards, getting clarity on what kids have to learn and giving ourselves permission to cut things out that weren’t essential.  We also started our lunch-time ZAP (Zeros Aren’t Permitted) intervention, communicating to the students that we are no longer allowing them to fail.  Our master schedule began to evolve and we added common preps for some of our teams as well as Tier 2 push-in interventions for reading.  

In year three (2015-16), momentum started to build.  Our teams began to create common formative assessments together and set growth goals for our students.  Those goals, posted in our staff room and in each classroom, focused our work and revealed a level of intentionality that was new for us.  As our teams became more focused and began analyzing their data, we realized that Hawk Time wasn’t as effective as it could be.  Our staff, in an amazing water-shed moment early in the year, gathered together one evening around a pot-luck dinner and we ironed out a new plan for Hawk Time.  We moved it to the middle of the day and we created a plan that allowed for fluidity, sharing of students, and allowed our teams to serve kids as a team.  Hawk Time was now a true Tier 2 intervention where students could receive the extra time and support they needed to master essential standards.  

In year four (2016-17) we took tremendous steps forward towards fulfilling our purpose as a school.  To start the year and in a leap of great courage, we placed all students with IEPs, for the first time, back into grade level classes in reading and math, getting rid of our former resource room model completely.  This was extremely challenging as our teachers and teams quickly realized how big the learning gaps were for these students.  Yet, in keeping to our commitment to ensure ALL, we rolled up our sleeves and learned together how to provide these students with the same access to grade-level standards.  These students proved to us, and as a staff we proved to ourselves, that when we truly believe in them, they can do it.  Our master schedule has continued to evolve, providing intentional Tier 3 supports for students in reading and math.  We formalized 3 guiding coalitions this year to monitor and guide our PLC work, our interventions, and our behavioral supports.  

This past school year (2017-18) our inclusionary practices for students with IEPs continued to improve as refined our co-teaching model and continued to build out our Tier 3 supports for students that need it ... for Math, Reading, behavior, executive functioning, and social skills.  Our success in this area has been recognized at the state level here in Washington, culminating in 2 separate visits by our state Special Education director, the 2nd of which included over 20 executives and directors from 9 other states across the US.  It was an honor to share our story and know that our work is impacting students and educators outside the walls of our school.  After analyzing our data from the previous school year and in addition to our goal of closing the gap for students with IEPs, much of our work in 2017-18 included increasing the level of rigor and expectations around our essential standards, ensuring we are instructing and assessing our students in a manner that aligns with the level of rigor expected of them on the state assessments. Finally, this year we formalized, refined, and implemented our Pyramid of Interventions process, adding a referral component to the pyramid as well as a bi-weekly students of concern meeting, allowing us to provide targeted and specific supports that address the "why" behind the areas of need for each student referred.  

Looking ahead and celebrating our progress thus far, we've still got a ton of work to do in our quest to achieve our purpose as a school.  Our PLC Guiding Coalition continues to do a remarkable job of leading our staff in this journey, sharing the leadership responsibility and collaborating in a manner that paves the way for continued growth.  As we look into next year and beyond, our big areas of growth include (1) continuing to improve our Tier 1 instruction so that more students learn what's essential the first time; (2) rolling up our sleeves on our grading practices as we've already begun the process of moving towards a standards based grading structure, which includes developing proficiency scales for our learning targets/essential standards; (3) improving our "honors for all" approach, pushing all of our students into a more rigorous and advanced level of academics, paving the way for them to take honors and AP classes when they reach high school; and (4) working with our partner middle school to align our guaranteed and viable curriculum across both schools.  As Mike Mattos often reminds us, this is extremely difficult work and if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!  Our staff truly is committed to this work and we are excited about the next steps ahead of us. 



1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Collaborative teams have identified essential standards for each class, at each grade level, have unpacked those standards in to learning targets, and next year our work will involve creating proficiency scales for each standard, paving the way for a shift to standards based grading. Teams set SMART goals for their students around their essential standards, based on prior student performance.  Teams administer common formative assessments and every week during their hour-long team time, submit their plan for re-teaching students during Hawk Time the following week.  Our teams have started to track every student in the school, by the skill, by the standard, and next year one of our goals is to create a data wall where we can visibly see how many students, at any given point in time, are demonstrating proficiency on our essential standards.  Our teams shuffle students fluidly between classes, based on student performance, intervening for those that haven’t demonstrated mastery yet and extending the learning for those that have.  Through a google doc, our entire staff tracks student behavior, daily, tracking the number of student reflections in each class, allowing us to use that data to create specific behavior contracts and check in/check out plans in a timely manner for students that need it.  As a building we monitor student progress and move students in and out of our Tier 3 interventions based on their performance on our progress monitoring assessment. During the months of April and May our master schedule team analyzes student performance data to place students, one by one, into the schedule for the following year so they start the year getting the level of support they need.  This year we've built in Tier 3 supports for behavior, executive functioning, and social/emotional needs.  

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

Our Pyramid of Interventions at Hidden River consists of three tiers of supports, both for academics and student behavior and our WD40 Guiding Coalition continues to lead our staff in building and perfecting this system of supports for students .  Tier 1 is our core program, what every students receives through initial instruction and school-wide consistency.  Tier 2 is our supplemental support for students that need extra time and support learning what is taught and expected in our core program.  Tier 3 is our intensive supports system for students that are well behind their peers in academics, behavior, executive functioning, and social/emotional areas.   Currently we have over 20 targeted Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions to help support students in a timely manner and this year added a detailed pyramid referral process as well as a students of concern meeting twice a month where we discuss specific kids that need extra support.  We consider this our safety net for students and this has completely taken the place of our former safety net, which was to recommend students for Special Education when they struggled. Throughout our pyramid we are striving to be consistent in every classroom with our Tier 1 commitments, targeted and intentional in Tier 2 with our message to students that we will not let them fail, and tenacious with our Tier 3 supports so we can ensure that our students close the gaps with their peers.  Our Pyramid continues to grow and adapt based the needs of our students and the things that we learn as a PLC. 

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

We believe that student success is in direct proportion to how well our teams function and how interdependent they are in serving students together, not as individuals.  At the end of each year our collaborative teams meet with our administrative team to evaluate and assess the year and set goals for the follow year.  These conversations are wrapped around the concept of becoming a "10 team" that Mike Mattos introduced us to.  The last two years we have used the PLC Current Reality Survey questions to drive those conversations.  This self-reflective practice has allowed our teams to continue to grow and learn together for the sake of our students.  

Our teams meet weekly during the contractual day, both on our early release Fridays and on weeks when we have extended staff meetings.  Our ELA teams also meet weekly on their common planning time ... next year we've built the same common planning in the schedule for Math and Science as well.  Each year our teams are provided 1 or more full sub-out days to work together on re-assessing their essential standards, perfecting their common formative assessments, analyzing student data, setting goals, unpacking their standards, and discussing what proficiency looks like for each standard.  To start the year our teams have a road-map for the things they need to accomplish and the products they need to generate as evidence of their work.  This is a process that our PLC Guiding Coalition continues to hone and perfect.  

  • 2015 T.E.A.M Award (Together Everyone Achieves More) for Co-Teaching
  • 2017 Collaborative Teaching Award
  • Mount Pilchuck Music Educators Superior Band Award 2014,2016,2017, 2018
  • OSPI visit to Hidden River in May, 2018 to hear our PLC story.  State directors in attendance from Washington, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota, and Kansas.