Heritage Middle School

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

Heritage Middle School began the PLC journey in the fall of 2015.  When the state of Georgia released the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) scores for the first time since transitioning to the more rigorous Georgia Milestones assessments, we earned a 76.7.  The CCRPI accountability rating is comprised of student content mastery (35%), progress/growth (30%), closing gaps in subgroup populations (15%), and readiness for high school based on attendance, literacy, and courses taken beyond the core (20%). This score became the catalyst for change in the months and years that followed. We were not satisfied to remain in a place where mediocre performance was adequate and average expectations were acceptable.  Looking back, the self-reflection that occurred as a result of this score was a fork in the road for Heritage Middle School. We could continue to wander as a loose band of educators on a path of mediocrity or take the road less traveled as a collective whole.  We knew the more difficult road would be rocky, require grit, and challenge us to step outside our comfort zone at every bend, but we also knew the direction it would lead us would take our students to places they couldn’t go if we continued along the easy path.  And so began our journey with PLCs. It has been challenging, arduous, and painful at times but the reward we have received in the form of student success has been worth every single step.

 

During our first year of PLCs (2015-2016), we began meeting as grade level/content area teams once a week during planning.  These teams became the foundation of our PLC work.  The purpose and responsibilities of our early collaborative teams would grow and change over the next few years, but these groups of greade level/content teachers would remain the cornerstone for all PLC planning and assessment work. During this inaugural PLC year, collaborative teams met in one room and administration was present for encouragement, guidance, and to set the tone that these meetings were a top priority at HMS moving forward.  Although our teams weren’t looking at student data yet, the foundation of collaborative work became a habit over the course of the year. Teams focused on establishing common curriculum maps within our building, staying on the same pace as they worked through units, and planning together instead of individually.  We debated many issues and learned to communicate and compromise with the question of “What’s best for our students?” driving our work and the decisions that were made. We asked questions such as “In what order can we ALL agree to teach the units?”, “Which standards will be covered in each unit?”, “Are we spending time on activities/lessons that aren’t tied to a current standard?”, and “Are there important standards that we aren’t spending enough time teaching?”  We also developed an Extended Learning Time (ELT) schedule that enabled us to provide targeted, timely, and flexible learning opportunities for intervention and extension. Looking back on the first year in our journey, the most important thing we accomplished was to realize we were in this together, we each have strengths and weaknesses, and we are far better as a team than we could ever be as individuals. After this year of work, our CCRPI score increased to an 80.8, and we saw a jump in student achievement levels on the state Milestones assessment.  

 

In 2016-2017, our second year of the PLC journey, common assessments were our primary focus.  Collaborative teams worked to create both formative checkups and summative unit tests that aligned with the standards and provided useful data to assess student progress.  As a whole faculty, we studied the importance of Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels, rigor, and expectations. What kinds of questions were we asking?  How could we incorporate more DOK 3 and 4 questions into our lessons and assessments to challenge students and increase rigor? We also visited Piney Grove Middle School for a second time and learned more about differentiation and literacy strategies that would push our students regardless of their ability and how we could change our instructional practices to increase comprehension and critical thinking.  This was a long and tedious year when foundational groundwork was laid. We could begin to see where we wanted to be in the distance and wanted to move faster to get there, but the road was steep and our progress was slow. In the end, the strenuous efforts paid off in small student achievement score increases. Our CCRPI was released at an 82.9. Our collaborative teams had spent the majority of their time developing CFAs aligned to the standards and mapping out what would be assessed, when, and how (as well as agreeing on these things as a team). This work took time, effort, and the fruits of our labor wasn't immediately evident.  We certainly didn't go backward, but there was a stall in our growth that year- it was simply the result of doing the right work but not yet using the assessments to drive our instruction. The pause in our students' growth didn't mean we weren't moving forward, it just meant we were taking the time to really understand the standards and develop assessments that aligned with questions 1 and 2 (What do we want students to learn and how will we know if they learned it).  Because of the foundational work that took place in this year when our scores seemed to stall, we were able to see universal growth across all grades and subjects the next year when we started using the data collected from these common assessments to change our instructional practice.

We began year 3 of our PLC journey with a challenge issued to every staff member- Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.  We were now a “B” school.  Collaborative work was an integral part of our school culture, but we knew we could continue to push ourselves and our students. During year 3, we clearly identified essential standards and began developing student “I Can” statements as a district.  Grade level/content teachers from each of the three district middle schools met to determine which standards were essential.  This process entailed evaluating which standards met the requirements for endurance (must provide students with knowledge and skills that will be of value beyond a single assessment), leverage (must provide students with knowledge and skills that will be of value in mulitiple disciplines), and preparation for the next level (must provide students with essential knowledge and skills neccessary for success at the next level of instruction).  We also began really looking at data. We started reflecting on data taken from formative and summative assessments through Common Assessment Reflections. It was often difficult to expose ourselves to what our raw data looked like, but it helped us grow as educators because we were constantly evaluating the successes and failures of our instructional practices.  We began to learn from one another and grow from discussions about what went right and what didn’t. We began to talk about student progress on a kid by kid basis. We developed a school-wide Collaborative Team Outcomes document to outline things we were “tight” on as a building. We established a guiding coalition comprised of teachers from each grade/content area and administration that was focused on continuous improvement of building level instructional practice. All of the foundational work in previous years had conditioned and prepared us for year 3.  We kept pushing and climbing forward and student achievement rates skyrocketed. We saw student proficiency increases of 13% and 14% in some areas on end of the year data. At the end of this year, our school finished at number 13 out of 434 middle schools in the state of Georgia with a CCRPI of 93.

 

In year 4 of the PLC process, we worked on breaking down standards into learning targets to track proficieny of skills within essential standards, increasing student accountability through intentional involvement in the tracking of their own mastery of targets, refining our RTI and Tier 3 process, increasing our literacy rate, and increasing growth percentages in our students that struggle the most. Additionally, we established a School Improvement Team made up of teachers, counselors, and administrators to monitor the progress of RTI students.  This team regularly looks with intention at the growth and progress of our struggling students and serves as an action team to brainstorm solutions for our students who need us the most. Because of our focus on the RTI process and interventions, we realized we had a scheduling conflict.  Our bell schedule was innovative but still had a major overlap.  Our students who needed Tier 3 (two or more grade levels below) remediation in math were being pulled from our schoolwide Tier 2 time.  We weren't giving them adequate time to be retaught grade level standards wehen they didn't get a concept the first time.  This realization led us to the RTI workshop in Houston where we tweaked our bell schedule to ensure that ALL students were given access to Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 instruction when needed.  During this year, we also saw many changes to our core staff, but because of the strong culture of collaborative teams, new teachers weren't isolated like in years past.  They immediately became an integral part of a team where ideas are shared, data is openly discussed, and reflection on what worked and what didn't is a common practice amongst team members.  

 

Heritage Middle School is currently in year 5 of the PLC process, and we believe in the power of Professional Learning Communities. Our focus for this year is to implement our new bell schedule which ensures students have access to all 3 tiers of instruction when needed.  This new bell schedule includes a new Tier 3 math connections class (elective time) that gives students who struggle the most support in every area they need (see our Tier 3 math proposal and plan for this class in the attached documents).  We are also refining the interventions we are using and targeting individual students' needs with laser-like focus when they don't master a learning target the first time.  We have partnered every resource class in the building with a peer class.  This was a result of outstanding success that came from an 8th grade resource math teacher participating in the 8th grade math PLC last year.  Because of the collaborative work they were doing together, they started combining classes and partnering together for lessons which resulted in increased scores for the resource students as well as an increase in self-esteem, positive behavior, and work ethic.  In the words of Michael Jordan, “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” Our hope is that we are always eager to learn, push the limits, and never settle for good enough. We certainly do not have all the answers, and the irony is that the journey never really ends.  We just learn to lean on one another, continue to put one foot in front of the other, and never stop moving forward.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Progress monitoring our students at Heritage Middle School is one of our top priorities.  We know that providing timely and targeted intervention and remediation is essential for student success. Therefore, we have established a schedule that allows for 30 minutes of intervention or extension three days a week.  This time is used for a quick re-teach of learning targets when students don't master them the first time.  We also have our collaborative teams meet each week to examine data from common formative and summative assessments. The questions on these assessments are aligned with essential standards and learning targets that are the focus of the current unit.  Essential standards were decided on at the district level by teachers from each grade level/content area.  Teachers in our building then broke each essential standard down into learning targets designed to determine individual skills or knowledge students needed to know within the standard.  Breaking down the essential standards into targets and then assessing their mastery of the targets on common assessments allows us to monitor and remediate student learning of particular skills.  The results from the data collected drives our plan for the 30 minute morning extended learning time (ELT).  Our ELT spreadsheet gives ELA and social studies a week to reteach grade level essential standards while math and science have the opportunity to provide extension activities for students. The following week math and social studies pull students for on grade level reteaching of essential standards while ELA and science provide extension activities.  This schedule ensures that we are constantly monitoring our students and providing timely, targeted and flexible Tier 2 intervention and extension opportunities based on frequent needs assessments.

During weekly collaborative team meetings, teachers answer the last 2 critical questions of a PLC: “How will we intervene for the students that did not learn the essential material?” and  “How will we extend the learning for the students who did?” Teachers compare data by completing the assessment reflection form after any common assessment is given (checkups and unit tests).  By comparing and reflecting on data from common assessments, teachers are able to identify teaching strategies that proved to be successful as well as individual students who need more time and instruction on specific learning targets or would benefit from extension activities related to the learning targets. Collaborative learning team members then develop a plan to reteach the students who need extra practice and extend the learning for students who have mastered them with ease. Teachers use an ELT “draft” list (Google Sheet) to claim students for the 1st block intervention and extension time (Tier 2).  This allows us to share students efficiently and keep track of where they are at all times. To keep our intervention and extension groups small, we offer a study hall during the 1st block time located in our dining hall. Intervention students are chosen first, extension students next (students who have demonstrated proficiency of the current learning targets and need an opportunity to go beyond mastery), and all other students are assigned to study hall. The study hall students are never the same because the groups are flexible, fluid, and based on real-time needs. When students are assigned to study hall, they work on their own individualized learning path for math and language arts in online instructional programs.

 

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

Heritage Middle School has made a commitment to teaching students what they need to know while meeting them where they are.  A system of interventions is in place to address the needs of all learners. 

Tier 1 instruction is provided for all students, all of the time. Formative and summative end of unit common assessments focus on student learning of the essential standards and learning targets.  Non-essential standards are still taught during Tier 1 time, but we have clearly identified the standards necessary to be successful at the next level and map out our assessments to reflect mastery of these concepts and skills.  

When students don't get a particular learning target, teachers identify the skill they haven't mastered and provide timely, targeted, and flexible re-teaching/interventions during Tier 2 time.  This intervention support is designed to meet the needs of students who just need a little extra help or need to hear an on-grade level lesson again (maybe in a different way and/or instructor) to demonstrate mastery.  Tier 2 targets some students, some of the time and groups are flexible, fluid, and frequently change based on student needs for individual target mastery.    

When a student is significantly below grade level in math or ELA, he/she is placed in a Tier 3 group for that subject during WIN (What I Need) time.  These groups are made up of a few students who are two or more grade levels below, times are consistent, and interventions are designed to fill gaps in essential standards from previous years.  Students who need only ELA or math Tier 3 instruction meet with a content expert during WIN time; however, if they need both then we have to make sure we use creative scheduling to ensure these students get adequate access to all tiers of instruction when needed.  Tier 3 (below grade level gap-filling) can never replace Tier 2 (on-grade level essential standards interventions) and students must always have access to both when needed.  If a student needs both Tier 3 math and ELA, plus they need to be given intervention opportunities for Tier 2 learning targets, we have found the following creative bell schedule elements to be effective at solving this time dilemma (see attached documents for a copy of the bell schedule): 

- ALL students have access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum during regular academic blocks throughout the day (Tier 1 time).  This includes resource classes which now teach on-grade level, essential standards and partner with a regular ed class to do combined activities on a regular basis.  

-ALL students can be pulled using the draft sent out weekly to be retaught grade level standards during 1st block on Tu, W, Th (designated school wide Tier 2 time).  

- Students who need EITHER math or ela remediation because they are two or more grade levels below work on these gap-filling skills during WIN time with the math and ela teachers.  If they need BOTH, they are served for ela during this time (Tier 3 Remediation). All other students participate in grade level instruction or extension activities during WIN time.

- Students who need both math and ela remediation get ela during WIN time and math through a Tier 3 math connections (elective) class.  This class is fun and incorporates essential math standards from prior years into activities to shore up areas of weakness. The students get a connections class (pe, art, etc.) during first block on Monday and Friday and any other day of the week if they are not needed for Tier 2 intervention.  

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

Collaborative learning teams have become a critical part of the culture at Heritage Middle School over the past few years.  We began by simply ensuring that the master schedule allowed for common planning time and requiring teams to meet on a weekly basis.  This simple plan has strategically evolved over the years into high performing, collaborative teams that are focused with laser like precision on student by student proficiency of individual learning targets.  Our teams meet bi-weekly (although it is not uncommon at all to walk by on any given day and see teams working together when it's not a planned day to meet).  Teachers share data, self-relect on how instructional strategies went, brainstorm ways to improve instruction, and discuss ways to answer PLC questions 3 (How will we respond when some students do not learn it?) and 4 (How can we extend the learning for those who have already mastered it?).  Team meetings begin with reviewing the norms and move into specific tasks associated with student learning.  The PLC time is protected by administration and clear expectations are established as to the focus of the work during collaborative team time.  We have also established a Guiding Coalition which serves as a leadership team in our building.  Each PLC team has one representative and is the voice for that team in building wide instructional practice decision making.  We believe It is critical that we invest in our guiding coalition team members, therefore we spend a significant amount of time building leadership capacity through training with this group.  Shared leadership is crucial to sustained success.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The following information is an explanation of Georiga's CCRPI Accountability System.  All information below is from the state's accountability website: www.accountability.gadoe.org.

What is CCRPI?

The College and Career Ready Performance Index – CCRPI – is Georgia’s tool for annually measuring how well its schools, districts, and the state are helping students achieve their goals. It provides a comprehensive road map to help educators, families, and commmunity members promote and improve college and career readiness for all students. The CCRPI can be used for communication and continuous improvement. Why did CCRPI change for the 2018 school year? With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, Georgia had the opportunity to reflect on several years of CCRPI implementation and revise the CCRPI to expand upon its successes and address its shortcomings. The redesigned CCRPI, first implemented for the 2017-2018 school year, supports Georgia’s mission of offering a holistic education to each and every child in the state and its vision of Educating Georgia’s Future by graduating students who are ready to learn, ready to live, and ready to lead.

What can CCRPI tell me?

CCRPI can answer questions such as: Are students achieving at the level necessary to be prepared for the next grade, college, and career? How much growth are students demonstrating relative to academically-similar students? Are all students and all student subgroups making improvements in achievement rates? Are students participating in activities that prepare them for and demonstrate readiness for the next level, college, or career? Are students graduating from high school with a regular diploma in four or five years?

Content Mastery- 35%

Are students achieving at the level necessary to be prepared for the next grade, college, and career? Content Mastery includes achievement scores in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies based on student performance on state assessments. The achievement scores utilize weights based on achievement level to acknowledge the level of proficiency attained by each student. Achievement scores will be adjusted if the required 95% participation rate is not met.

Progress- 30%

How much growth are students demonstrating relative to academically-similar students? Progress utilizes Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) to measure progress in both English language arts and mathematics. SGPs describe the amount of growth a student has demonstrated relative to academically-similar students. A third progress indicator measures the extent to which English Learners are making progres towards English language proficiency. Progress scores utilize weights based on growth level to acknowledge the level of growth demonstrated by each student.

Closing Gaps- 15%

Are all students and all student subgroups making improvements in achievement rates? Closing Gaps measures the extent to which all students and all student subgroups are meeting annual achievement improvement targets, defined as 3% of the gap between a baseline performance and 100. A system of green, yellow, and red improvement flags will indicate the extent to which improvement targets were met. Growth must increase each year or a red flag will be assigned.

Readiness- 20%

Are students participating in activities that prepare them for and demonstrate readiness for the next level, college, or career? Elementary and middle school readiness indicators include literacy, student attendance, and opportunities for enrichment beyond the traditional academic core. High school readiness indicators include literacy, student attendance, accelerated enrollment, pathway completion, and demonstration of college and career readiness via multiple opportunities. Graduation Rate (high schools only) Are students graduating from high school with a regular diploma in four or five years? Graduation Rate includes both the four and five year adjusted cohort graduation rates. This emphasizes graduating in four years while placing value on continuing to work with and graduate students who need more time.

 

2018 Catoosa County Superintendent's Medals for:

Highest District Achievement in ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Highest Student Growth Percentages in ELA and Math (no science or ss award for growth).

Highest Growth in Subgroups: Students with Disabilities ELA, Econ. Disadvantaged Math and ELA

The Georgia Governor's Office of Student Acheivement- Beating the Odds School for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. 

Beating the Odds is a statistical analysis that compares a school’s actual performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) with the performance of schools with similar characteristics across the state. Schools that perform higher than similar schools are considered “Beating the Odds.”

2018 CCRPI Prediction- 78.8 (predicted range 75-82.7)

2018 CCRPI Actual Score- 93

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