Lincoln Elementary School
- Number of Students: 353
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 61.8%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 7.1%
- Percent of Special Education: 17.3%
- White: 79.3%
- Black: 1.1%
- Hispanic: 16.4%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.6%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1.4%
- Multiracial: 1.1%
- Other: 0.1%
Our PLC journey began as a ripple of hope for something better, something more for our students. This hope turned into a shared vision. The vision grew into a purpose. Now, this purpose inspires our actions, and our actions continue to serve our students, helping them to achieve grade level learning outcomes and demonstrate habits of successful learners.
In 2013-2014, a new leader brought a fresh set of ideas into our midst. While he shared his passion for approaching all things education and learning, namely, this framework called Professional Learning Communities, there were those with doubts of yet another “thing” to do, those who feared change, and those who were all in from the get go.
Slowly, steadily, and with a quiet strength, what was once a ripple, grew and grew until those who were once skeptical embraced the undeniable results we were starting to experience. Messages that nurtured our collective efforts were those of belief in the potential of every little heart and mind that walked through our doors, as well as the value of every adult here to serve our students and families.
To make sure we started off with a solid understanding of PLCs, we took a core team to the 2014 PLC Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Team members were each nominated and selected by the rest of the staff, representing multiple grade levels and positions. It was there that we gained a true understanding of what Professional Learning Communities looked like and the long term impact they could have on a school. We were able to attend various sessions that gave us quality information to take back to our staff. However, it was the 8+ hour drive home that allowed us to really start to put strategies in place to help our school effectively run a PLC.
The first, and biggest hurdle was our schedule. Our leader took what was once a confusing and inefficient schedule, and reimagined it in order to create a masterpiece that structures our PLCs today. Grade level teams meet and analyze data for at least 70 continuous minutes one day each week, along with sharing 45 minutes every day of common planning time while their students are at specials classes.
As a core team, we decided it was crucial to start small to experience success. To accomplish this, teachers were asked to focus on Mathematics for the first year, since it is a relatively more concrete subject than others. Beginning of the year in-service days allowed us to talk as grade levels to create learning outcomes we deemed essential based off of the Common Core State Standards. Those grade level conversations led to school-wide conversations to make sure we were covering all necessary aspects of mathematics, without overlapping or omitting any topics between grade levels. In subsequent years, we went on to identify essential learning outcomes for all other subject areas.
As with any PLC, our teachers are committed to continuous learning. We have been able to send a team of 4-5 staff members to a PLC institute every summer, allowing us to have the majority of our teaching staff officially trained and headed in the same direction. We have also engaged in multiple book studies as a school. In the summer of 2013, we launched a school wide book study of The Daily 5, in the summer of 2014 we studied The Cafe Book and in the spring of 2015, we did a school wide book study of On Your Mark. Currently we are reviewing the book Mathematical Mindsets. In addition to these initiatives, we were able to bring Tim Brown in during the Fall of 2017 for staff development. These conferences, book studies, and speakers have led to in-depth conversations that help us continue to improve our teaching strategies, and therefore enhance learning for all.
Now that we are fully implementing Professional Learning Communities, we have many teachers wonder how they ever taught before. Students, parents, and staff are all clear on expectations of every subject at each grade level. We are able to specifically intervene or challenge, when necessary, in a systematic way to make Lincoln Elementary “The Best Place to Learn”.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Our Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) are the foundation from which all instruction is planned, and the vantage point from which student learning is monitored. Tools and resources are used more intentionally and efficiently to deliver quality instruction centered on ELOs. Our collaborative teams have grown and developed to the point of being able to identify targets for each unit of study in every subject area.
Results from ongoing formative assessment of these ELOs fuel our weekly collaborative team meetings, as well as the conversations occurring daily throughout our school. The outcomes of these discussions and the latest data points drive our Tier 1 instruction, and our Tier 2 interventions and enrichment opportunities.
Grade level common formative assessments (CFAs) in Reading and Math are given every 1 to 2 weeks. CFAs reflect not only evidence of proficiency, but are also used to diagnose learning difficulties students are having. We also analyze the results by standard and by teacher. The data drives our instruction. Developing these assessments to measure our ELOs has been a deeply meaningful process. In addition, as we get further into the PLC journey, these measures supply longitudinal data from year to year to be considered.
End of unit and other summative assessments serve as a measure of how students perform on multiple ELOs taught over a period of time. Throughout the journey, however, we have learned what was intended to be a summative assessment, could become a formative tool as well, depending on the results and outcomes.
As a school, we use STAR Reading and STAR Math Assessments as Universal Screeners, in addition to the Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Benchmark Assessment System for Reading. The STAR is given a minimum of 3 times each year. The F&P is repeated mid-year, and at the end of the year to students who are not at or above the expected level as measured by the beginning of the year assessment. For those meeting or exceeding the expected level at the beginning of the year, the F&P is given again at the end of the year.
Our 3rd through 6th grade students participate in The Wisconsin State Assessment System FORWARD Exam, which is given as a statewide benchmark assessment in late spring. These results are summative in nature, and are used to gauge how well our students are doing in relation to the Wisconsin Academic Standards and others students across the state.
The intentional and purposeful monitoring of student learning has enabled us to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with the families of our students. The PLC journey has led us to create a Standards Based Reporting System. While the process was underway for three years, the 2017-18 school year's reporting periods were our first opportunity to pilot the tool. Our parents and families are now being informed on their student's proficiency and progress specifically relative to the Essential Learning Outcomes delineated in each subject area. The feedback we have received from families has been overwhelmingly positive.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Utilizing the three-tiered Response to Intervention/Instruction (RTI) protocol, our teams create systems of intervention and support for learning on behalf of all students. The remastering of the schedule created an intervention block at each grade level, which provided a timeframe to meet individual and group needs. Staff was restructured to enable one of our teachers to serve in the role of Interventionist alongside our Reading Specialist.
In the 2017-18 school year, we were able to expand our intervention capacities yet again by providing two separate intervention blocks each day, at each grade level: one for Reading and one for Math. Our scope of impact has deepened and widened, which is meeting the specific needs of more students than ever before.
Classroom teachers are entrusted with Tier 1, universal instruction using a guaranteed and viable curriculum. These teachers and our Interventionists provide extra grade-level support at the Tier 2 level. To address foundational skill deficits of a year or more, Tier 3 intensive support includes our Specialists, Interventionists, School Psychologist, School Counselor, and our Administrator. Using universal data sheets, classroom data, and student assistance meetings, we are able to determine what tier students need, and pinpoint exactly what skills require intervention and/or enrichment in order for each student to grow as a learner.
Since our ELOs have been carefully selected, clearly defined, and explicitly taught, our assessment tools designed from these ELOs become invaluable for creating effective systems of intervention and support for learning. The areas of need in both Math and Reading are evident, and individuals or groups of individuals in need of specific supports or skills are readily identified.
In addition to pinpointing areas of need for students, we are also identifying areas to challenge them. In the 2017-18 school year, we were able to implement STEAM Mondays, where all students in grades 3-6 are able to participate in STEAM related activities. The students rotate between staff and content each month. This is an opportunity for all students to think critically, engage in hands-on learning opportunities, and have high level conversations about topics they might not have encountered in the general curriculum.
Following our recent visit from Tim Brown, we are developing more ways for students to be a part of tracking their own progress toward Essential Learning Outcomes. This feedback offers ownership on a deeper level, and helps students see the impact of their work on their achievement. There is an empowerment we are witnessing in students that accompanies the knowledge of where exactly they are in their skill set, and where they will be. This is something we are very excited to nurture and explore alongside our students.
While addressing academics, we simultaneously implemented a systematic process for behavior. At Tier 1, our Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system explicitly teaches expectations for student behavior across school settings. Tier 2 identifies students with social, emotional, and behavioral needs, and provides targeted interventions. Our academic and behavioral systems combine to provide optimal support for learning.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
The initial critical step in constructing our high performing, collaborative teams was undoubtedly the reinvention of the master schedule. Our logistics and capacity as teams was redefined, as we were given a solid and sacred block of time for meeting.
This collaboration opportunity was provided using a combination of scheduled times while students attend Art, Swimming, and Library. For example, one day a week, half of our 4th graders (Group 4A) attend Swimming first thing in the morning from 8:00-9:00am. The other half of the 4th grade students (Group 4B) go to Art from 8:00-9:00. When Group 4A returns from Swimming, one of our office staff members escorts the students down to the classroom to get needed materials for Art class, and then this staff member walks Group 4A to Art, where they remain until 9:45. Group 4B switches from Art class to Library time, where they remain until 9:30. This gives our 4th Grade Team 90 minutes of uninterrupted collaboration time one day each week. Midway through the year, the 4A & 4B Groups switch accordingly, so that each is given a full semester of Swimming.
Further, during the reconfiguration of the daily schedule, our leader added a 3rd "Special" to the rotation: Technology. Students are involved in Phy.Ed., Music, and Technology on a rotating schedule, which repeats after every 3 days. This massive change moved our school from only one grade level having a common planning time each day, to each and every grade level now sharing the same 45* minute "Specials" time. Conversations that need to happen sooner than once a week can be taken up during this common planning time by team members at each grade level. This 45* minutes each day is in addition to the 90 minute collaboration block that happens once each week during the contract day.
Finally, the district had "late start" Monday mornings in place for several years prior to embarking on our PLC journey. Students arrive at 9:00 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. each Monday. Our schedule compensates this hour by shortening the Specials rotations by 10 minutes each Monday (*the 45 minutes common planning time referenced above occurs Tuesdays through Fridays, whereas Mondays are actually only 35 minutes due to the late start). This allows a weekly 7:30 to 9:00 district-wide shared time for all staff meetings, and professional development. In addition, specifically in relation to PLCs, this time enables collaboration with specialists, and vertical meetings between grade levels to occur.
As a staff, we used our mission to develop our shared vision and values, which was a pivotal endeavor for our school culture. It is the vision of Lincoln Elementary that each student will achieve grade level learning outcomes and develop habits of successful learners. We carried this same process through to our smaller groups, and created our own collaborative teams norms. Likewise, we created meeting protocols to guide our discussions and maximize our impact.
Seeking to promote continuous improvement, our leader has given us many opportunities to self-assess, and to reflect on the health and developmental stages of our teams. These tools spur amazing discussion, and deepen the shared purpose we strive toward together.
At bi-weekly staff meetings, teams share more openly regarding their successes and shortcomings for the benefit of the greater good. We celebrate alongside one another, and support each other through challenges. Our trust level continues to grow, as does our ability to have respectful, sometimes difficult, crucial conversations.
We have vertical conversations, involving the teams of grades above and below each grade level. These conversations allow us to discuss skill sets students will need coming in to each grade, as well as the skill sets they will need when they leave each grade in order be successful the next school year.
Our Interventionists are integral participants in our collaborative teams, and their expertise can be utilized to its fullest potential because of the meaningful work we are doing together. After carefully compiling and analyzing summative information, they lead data day meetings throughout the school in order to facilitate the flexible grouping of students for research-based interventions.
Our special education staff members regularly collaborate and offer communication regarding shared students. ELOs at each grade level have clarified foundational skills to target during remedial instruction and individualized interventions. Support staff is vital to our everyday operations. Their roles and contributions are respected and sincerely valued.
Collaboration has become the fiber of how we function. It can no longer be confined to a single period of time on a given day of the week. Since experiencing the power of the results our students consistently achieve, it has been a natural progression to collaborate every opportunity we are given. It is simply how we go about things at Lincoln Elementary. It truly takes the collective sustained effort of everyone, but this most worthy aspiration is one we are honored to be a part of, as we create a legacy of hope together.
Additional Achievement Data
Our 3rd through 6th grade students participate in The Wisconsin State Assessment System FORWARD Exam, which is given statewide as a benchmark assessment in late spring. These results are summative in nature, and are used to gauge how well students across the state are doing in relation to the Wisconsin Academic Standards.
The following information is summarized from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Report Card system.
Overall Accountability Score
YEAR OVERALL SCORE DESCRIPTOR
2013 72.1/100 Meets Expectations
2014 74.2/100 Exceeds Expectations
*2015 Smarter Balance Consortium was only used for one year. Data was not used for Statewide School Report Cards.
2016 76.9/100 Exceeds Expectations
2017 87.8/100 Significantly Exceeds Expectations
- STAR Reading Cumulative Growth of +24.5% from 2014 to 2017
- STAR Math Cumulative Growth of +27.3% from 2014 to 2017
- F&P Cumulative Growth of +21.6% from 2014 to 2017
|School Student Achievement Data|
|State Accountability: WKCE/Smarter Balance Badger Exam/Forward Exam|
|Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding Proficiency|
|State Accountability: WKCE/Smarter Balance Badger Exam/Forward Exam|
|Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding Proficiency|
|********School Wide (Grades 3-6) vs. State Average********|
We attended our 1st PLC Institute in the summer of 2014. We initially starting the collaborative process around mathematics. In mathematics, as the state average has went down, Lincoln Elementary's average has gone up, eventually going from 3% below the state average, to outperforming the state average by over 10%. Over the course of 5 years in reading, we went from being 4% below the state average to 5% above the state average. We have only spent two years of working collaboratively around reading, and we have spent 3 years working collaboratively around math. Wisconsin starts "state assessing" students in 3rd grade. Therefore, although we are a PK-6 building, Lincoln Elementary only has state assessment data for grade 3-6.
In 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, Wisconsin's state assessment was the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE). In 2014-2015, there was a huge "blip" in our state assessment system. That year, the whole state's data was not used for school report card data. It was a one-time test, the Badger Exam, through the Smarter Balance Consortium. The data is highlighted and needs to be considered independently for two reasons. One, it wasn't used statewide for any reporting purposes due to statewide issues. Two, it was an assessment that bridged two totally different state assessments. In 2015-16 and 2016-17 Wisconsin has used the Forward Exam. This state assessment is built around the essentials of grade level Common Core of State Standards. In 5 years, we have taken 3 different state assessments. This circumstance makes our local data all the more vital to reflecting progress and our present reality.
- 2013 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award - Beating The Odds School
- 2014 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award - Beating The Odds School
- 2015 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award - Beating The Odds School
- 2016 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award - Beating The Odds School
- 2017 Black River Falls Community Grant
- 2017 Alma Center Community Grant
- 2013 & 2015 Recipient of The Lunda Grant: Funds were used to purchase SmartBoards for Lincoln Elementary Classrooms
- TRIFECTA Grant for Summer Reading Program
- 2016 Recipient of the Schools Rule! Contest: Lincoln Elementary students were awarded $3,000 in Box Tops for Education, courtesy of General Mills. The award was used to partially fund a fence around the playground area.