Hidden River Middle School

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

In 2014 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.  We centered our conversation around one question, and that question was this: If our own children went to this school, what kind of school would we want for them?  As we dreamed about this together, we made the commitment to create THAT school for every student that walks through our doors.  And so our journey began and still continues ... to create the school that we would be proud to send our own children to.  

Early stages of our PLC journey: As our journey started and we outlined the foundation of our work together (our Purpose, our goals, our commitments, etc), we took a "roll up our sleeves" approach.  We didn't always know if we were doing the work "correctly", but we began the process of doing what we believed to be the right work, which often meant that we stopped engaging in practices we realized were harmful and/or went against our Purpose as a school. In our first two years, teams began to determine essential standards and create common formative assessments for those essential standards.  We changed our master schedule, began dedicating time for teams to meet weekly during the school day, and we created Hawk Time, our main tier 2 academic intervention period within the school day.  It wasn't much more than a study hall at that point, but it was a start for us.  We also quickly realized that excluding students receiving IEP supports from general education classes in ELA and Math was direcly in conflict with our Purpose as a school, which is ALL students learning the essential skills needed to be successful in middle school and beyond.  Right away we began the process of unraveling those harmful exclusionary practices.  

Mid stages of our PLC journey: Over the next couple of years, we began to get deeper into the work of creating the school we would want for our own children.  Teams began to raise the level of rigor of both their instruction and assessments, realizing we weren't assessing students to the level of rigor as defined by the Common Core.  We further developed our master schedule, adding targeted Tier 3 supports for students throughout the day.  We also spent extensive amount of time and brain-power improving our interventions, developing a full pyramid of interventions for our students and refining our Hawk Time to become a true Tier 2 academic intervention for students that need more time and support on the essential skills they are learning in their classes.  Finally, our staff fully embraced our commitment to ALL Means ALL, completely ending our exclusionary practices for students receiving IEP supports.  All of these students were placed in grade-level classes, which was probably the most difficult change we experienced as a staff.  Yet that change is one that is resulting in higher levels of learning for our students and it's a change for which we have been recognized and celebrated for, both throughout Washington and across our nation.  

Current stages of our PLC journey: Our journey has taken us to a place now where we realize how important it is that our courageous work continues at Hidden River for generations to come.  We have 3 guiding coalitions that lead the work of our staff ... one focused on positive behavioral supports, one that oversees our pyramid of interventions process, and one that leads the work of our collaborative teams.  As a staff we've built a collaborative team rubric together, which defines what it looks like for teams to collaborate in a manner that results in each student receiving what they need. Currently we are completely overhauling our approach to grading, shifting to a standards based approach that celebrates students for their progress on the essentail standards as well as their attributes and behaviors as a learner.  As a part of this our teams have fully unpacked their essential standards into learning targets, they are creating proficiency scales for what it looks like at each level of learning, and they are working at further re-aligning their assessments to match this level of understanding, unit by unit.  We've completely shifted how we use our para-educator support, we are building our Tier 3 supports to be more fluid and seamless for students so they aren't trapped there all year, and we are further revamping our master schedule to meet the needs of students.  

In summary, our relentless pursuit of greatness as a school, which results in higher levles of learning for students, has led us down a path of continuous growth and progress.  We truly have embraced the idea of "learning by doing" and the more we learn and the better we get at serving students, the more we realize how much work we still have in front of us.  The process of becoming the school we dreamed about together, the process of becoming a Professinal Learning Community ... that process IS the journey.  It's hard work, but it's highly rewarding, extremely fulfilling, and there's no greater feeling in our work than to know that, by working together, we are creating a better future for the kids we are serving.  Our staff is highly recognized and celebrated across our state and our school is frequently visited by schools and districts seeking similar outcomes for the students in their communities.  All of this is because we have a courageous staff that fully embraces the idea that it's our responsibility to ensure that every student learns the essential skills that guarantee their success, both now and in their future.  WE are their answer for a better tomorrow and WE will do whatever it takes to help them get there!


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Collaborative teams have identified essential standards for each class, at each grade level, they have unpacked those standards in to learning targets, and they are creating proficiency scales for each standard, which has paved the way for a shift to standards based grading ... we are in year 2 of this shift. 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 common planning time, teams create a plan to re-teach and extend the learning for the students they serve.  Our teams track each student, both by the skill and by the standard, and teams report out to our PLC Guiding Coalition each quarter on how their students are performing on the essential standards.  Our teams are working on swapping students fluidly between classes as a part of their Tier 1 instruction, 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 are creating more flexibility in our schedule so we can move kids in and out of our Tier 3 interventions based on their current levels of performance. 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.  Our Tier 3 supports include the areas of Reading,  Math, organization/executive functioning, behavior, 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 support system for students that are well behind their peers in academics, behavior, executive functioning, and social/emotional areas.   We have a number of targeted Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions to help support students in a timely manner and this year we've further developed our Pyramid of Interventions referral process so that we can provide each student the support they need to be successful.  Our Pyramd process is 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 on the needs of our students and the things that we learn as a Professional Learning Community. 

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.  We are constantly working with teams to increase their level of collective efficacy.  In the past these regular conversations have been wrapped around the concpent of becoming a "10" team that Mike Mattos introduced us to.  Recently we developed our HRM Collaborative Team Rubric, which defines what we belive proficient and above proficient collaborative practices look and sound like. Each team has set a collaborative practices goal using this rubric and currently we are working with our PLC Guiding Coalition to develop regular feedback and coaching cycles to help teams make positive growth.  We also use the PLC Current Reality Survey, anually, to measure our perceptions about how our collaboration is impacting students and we use that data to set goals and improve each year.    

Our teams meet weekly during the contractual day, both on our early release Fridays and on weeks when we have extended staff meetings.  Teams also have common planning each week, during the school day, to use their data to plan their weekly re-teach and extension lessons during Hawk Time. 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.  This is continuous cycle that evolves and improves based on new learning every year. Our PLC Guiding Coalition is currently putting together what we are calling our Collaborative Team Tool-Kit ... outlining the key action items for teams each month, the key tools we use for our work (unpacking tools, unit plan guides, data analysis protocol, etc), and the yearly coaching cycles for both improving instruction and improving collaborative practice.  Our purpose for pulling this tool-kit together is so it further cements the work we are doing and ensures it will continue for many years to come  

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

When looking at our achievement data, it's worth noting that since 2015 the percentage of 6th graders coming to Hidden River that are proficient in ELA and Math has dropped each year.  As an example, in Math the number of proficienct students as 5th graders has dropped from 71% in 2015 to 42% for our incoming 6th graders last year.  Cohort charts have also been included for reference.  

  • 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, 2019
  • Since the start of 2018, we've hosted 10 site visits from various schools, districts, and organizations from all over Washington.  One visit included state level directors from Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota, and Kansas.  
  • Currently partnering with the University of Washington and OSPI to be 1 of 16 demonstration sites for co-teaching and inclusionary practices in the state of Washington.

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