Draper Intermediate School

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

Share your PLC story.  Let us know how you built a successful PLC.

                Draper Intermediate School opened its doors to students in 2007 with the mission to grow all staff and students.  The feeder patterns to our campus tended to be high-performing campuses, so our focus from the outset was to determine a systematic way to address the individual needs of our students so that ALL students would grow on our watch.   Prior to day 1, the administrative team had years of practical and professional learning ranging from PLC Conferences to Schlecty’s Working on the Work to Flippen Group’s Capturing Kids Hearts to Kagan Structures.  As the school opened, a clear mission of students as the core focus resonated through each phase of decision making and systems formation.

                To successfully work as a professional learning community, a culture based on relationships determined the initial systems that served as our foundation.  We knew we valued a safe learning environment for all students.  Our initial systems for this ran through our counselor who developed and presented guidance lessons based on students’ needs along with intentional professional development for staff.  Thus our mission of building relationships with all students became the educational philosophy for the campus.

                As schedules were formed, content and grade specific teams had daily embedded time off as a means for collaborative discussions.  Our first round of logistics put us in a room together to talk, but the focus of these discussions were rocky in the beginning--a classic PLC Lite experience.  Teachers met to discuss student data in an attempt to hold intentional conversations about student progress as a collective versus as  individuals.  This led to the implementation of Patriot Power time during the day to be utilized as extension and intervention time built into the day.  We also strengthened our relational efforts by implementing Club Friday which allowed students to select an interest that paired them with other students and teachers who shared this same interest in an end of a week club-type experience.

                As our PLC system matured, our work became framed by the Three Big Ideas.  With each new year, we reviewed the focus from the previous year as a staff to determine what we needed to “keep, create, or dump.”  The non-negotiables during this process were that decisions remained student-centered versus teacher convenience.  This also helped to support the “shifts” of working as a professional learning community.  With each year, a focus on student ownership of their learning began to shape the systems and decision-making.  Over the years, we learned how to effectively utilize this time to improve student learning while maintaining a 100% growth spurt from 500 students to 1,000 students.

                Then, Dr. Richard Dewey came to town!  We knew that the Four Critical Questions of Learning were the heart of our mission, but his guidance and expertise helped make it an integral part of how we work, talk, and act.  As our district embraced and provided the PLC Coaching Academy over the course of three years, we were able to send at least ten representatives each year to impact the number of adults on campus who were indoctrinated in all areas of the system for a student-centered collaborative campus.  The power of growing the number of adults involved in the learning was solidified by weekly vertical meetings that provided in-the-moment embedded professional learning based on feedback from our initial group in the Academy.  “Story #4”, “Crashing Planes”, and “Plan-Do-Study-Act” led to a campus mantra of “Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way” that remains today.  As we spoke with this singular voice, we were further guided by abundant literature and research that helped us dig deeper into the Three Big Ideas and the Four Critical Questions.  Our focus on student learning led to the creation of “Go-Time” for ALL students (intervention through extension) in ALL classes.  The Coaching Academy reinforced the belief system and had the practical impact on our Draper Lesson Design process used by all teams to become common based on the student needs.  Now, the strong discussion on unpacking standards and determining what students should LEARN took precedence over what should be TAUGHT.  This was a major milestone in our shift from a traditional campus to one who works by the tenets of a collaborative learning team.  

                A common saying in education is “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  When you open up your campus to a learning audit, this adage is so true.  Dr. Dewey agreed to consult with us for a year and guide us through the audit process.  As a collective we talked the right talk on campus, in the hallways, during any collaborative meeting, as leadership teams, and as an administrative team.  However, when asked to produce artifacts that support the “mouth-service” of being a PLC campus, the rubber hit the road.  Through the year-long process of focusing on the Right Work, also known as Habits 1 and 2, the Short Cycle, and the Three Big Ideas, we learned a great deal about putting beliefs into action, about ensuring consistency with our systems, and about our strengths and weaknesses as educators.  This work allowed us to build collective and high-leverage teacher efficacy through relentless, iterative and collaborative teamwork.  The struggle became pronounced in the push-pull between unpacking high leverage learning targets, creating short formative assessments (common assessments), interpreting the data, and making a new plan of action in a short timeframe (The Short Cycle).  By focusing on the high leverage learning targets and working the process, our campus was able to have an honest audit into our practices as well as student achievement and growth.  This frequent and formative practice, with a results orientation, allowed us to continuously improve our professional practice in a timely fashion.  At the same time, we grew student confidence, motivation and efficacy as they became users of the frequent formative data not victims of an imbalance of data used in only a summative fashion.

                Last summer, our principal attended the first Culture Keepers PD offered by Solution Tree.  While there, Dr. Mohammad laid out the truth:  If you are asking teachers to choose between lesson plans/preparation for the classroom or collaboration about student learning—they will choose preparation every time.  This new-found focus allowed us to confront some brutal facts.  We were asking teachers to make that choice.  As is customary when met with a challenge, we gathered our content team leads together to invent a new system—PACE and RACE days. Our collective focus remains on the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle based on the Habits, the four critical questions and the three big ideas as the reason that we all “talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Our work is never done, and our focus is unchanged:

At Draper Intermediate School, we believe that ALL students can learn and must learn at relatively high levels of achievement.  It is our job to create an environment in our classrooms that result in this high level of performance.  We are confident that, with our support and help, students can master challenging academic material, and we expect them to do so.  We are prepared to work collaboratively with colleagues, students, and parents to achieve this shared educational purpose.

The journey is real and the work remains evolving.  We are up to the challenge:  Every kid, Every day, Every way!

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Draper Intermediate School, our monitor system for student learning is based on the Short Cycle premise of Plan—Do—Study—Act.  Each learning unit is focused on a specific high-leverage learning target (HLLT) that the team has determined as the key concept.  Collaboration on how to best approach the HLLT is determined as well as the common assessment (CA) that will be used by all team members.  A SMART goal is established and then the unit of study begins.  Various artifacts are used to determine mastery during this short cycle, but the decision points occur with the common formative assessments and the CAs that are given at designated times to determine the level of mastery and learning on the part of the students.  Then, the short cycle begins again.

As a part of this cyclical process, our teams initiated the idea of “go-time” also known as “grow-time.”  This embedded time is a part of the daily schedule in each class, for example, a 70-minute class period may begin with 20 minutes of “go-time” with the remaining 50 minutes being the class time for new learning.  Go-time is individualized based on students’ needs.  It can look a variety of ways depending on the class and content, but the focus is the same:  What gaps need to be filled to show student growth?  How can I enrich or extend this learning for a student who has mastered the material?  Which students are “not-yet” in their understanding and need a bit more instruction?  It allows for a designated time each day as a guarantee that students’ needs are at the forefront of the instructional decision making process.

The final part of the monitoring system is student ownership.  The various classrooms implement systems for students to be in control of their learning and needs.  Most are built around a common format which includes a student conference with individual goal setting, expectations for building on areas of need and reinforcing areas of strengths.  Then, the process of how this will be accomplished is determined so that the student is clear on what to do, when to do it and with what support or guidance.  This is a cyclical process that parallels the short cycle and is continually changing because of that.  The connection between what learning is taking place and how the student is doing with that focus is quick and timely—think of a daily check-up rather than an autopsy at the end of the year.

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

As a collective, we are responsible for ALL the students in our building—not just the ones in a particular classroom.  This belief combined with our embedded “go/grow-time” discussed above, allows Draper Intermediate to have a number of systems of intervention in place to provide students with additional time and support for learning.  As a campus, we utilize NWEA’s MAP screening three times a year for progress monitoring.  This provides a number of checkpoints for us in terms of students’ learning.  As a campus, we are growth focused so we utilize this data to see if students are growing under our watch.  We also address areas of achievement so that we can fill gaps if needed with specific focuses that align with our HLLTs.  This occurs in small groups or as individuals in the math and reading classrooms.  These core teachers provide daily interventions during "Go-Time" utilizing MAP data to fill gaps and formative assessment data to reinforce current HLLT learning.  By utilizing the MAP data as a measure for growth and what students are ready to learn, we have found that we can move them forward at a more consistent rate.

From our MAP data, we also pull our Response to Intervention (RTI) groups based on their gaps and overall achievement percentiles.  We utilize our social studies teachers to embed 20-25 minutes of reading intervention using Pathblazer (Compass) which speaks directly with MAP and sets up individualized folders for the three goal areas.  This ensures that each students is working on his or her appropriate level and building on their level of need.  These teachers will set goals with students, hold conferences with them, and pull small groups as the needs arise.  We also utilize our sixth grade science teachers to provide time with Education Galaxy Math as a means for intentional intervention.

Based on a student’s historical data, we have utilized the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) as an intensive, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention for students who have historically had difficulty with reading and writing.  Our LLI team consists of our ESL staff who pull selected students during the social studies intervention time in an effort to improve reading comprehension amoung our ELL population.  This system provides support to advance the literacy learning of students who are not meeting, or have consistently not met, grade-level expectations in reading.

An additional level added this year is to form reading classes that blend the READ 180 learning intervention program with reading comprehension, academic vocabulary and writing skills for struggling students.  This pilot was led by a reading teacher with special education certification and specific training in the Read 180 program implementation and process.  We are seeing large growth patterns with the implementation of this system this year. 

With these various systems in place, we are targeted and intentional about who is receiving what intervention.  We are also fluid in our efforts to find what works best for each student so that they can experience high levels of growth and success.  Sometimes it is trial and error, but ultimately OUR students win.

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

Through multiple evolutions of what a collaborative team is and does, Draper personnel share horizontal and vertical conference periods within a core area of study.  This allows for either vertical or horizontal times to meet depending on the need or topic of discourse.  Generally speaking, our vertical meetings revolve around job-embedded professional development that supports implementation of systems, beliefs, or goals for the school year; we call these our Monday meetings.  Each week, our horizontal content teams meet to collaborate and discuss about the best instructional practices to target our high leverage learning targets.

This past summer after hearing Dr. Mohammed speak, our administrative team pulled together our Content Leads to apologize for 10 years of having the staff choose between unpacking standards and planning for daily instruction.  They were challenged to create a system that would address both areas of focus—and they did!  They developed a system referred to as PACE/RACE Days utilizing a racing metaphor to encompass the work that needs to be accomplished. 

PACE Days happen two to three weeks before a new term/quarter begins and sets the big picture for the upcoming term.  High leverage learning targets (HLLT) are identified and unpacked including discussing the concept/skill/context, any associated academic language or key vocabulary, as well as a guaranteed level of rigor for all students.  We then move into a discussion on common misconceptions students have with the HLLT.  Next we go through a protocol to design a common formative assessment with predetermined proficiency levels and a SMART goal.  This process is repeated for each HLLT.  At the end we create a pacing calendar and designate the dates for focus on the HLLTs as well as the window for the common assessments.  This information drives our weekly meetings as we design instruction.

RACE Days occur weekly (or more depending on the team’s needs) and provide intentional focus on the best ways to deliver instruction based on data for the HLLT.  We review our prerequisite knowledge and skills to determine if certain students need support prior to instruction by filling gaps in learning during our daily “Go-Time” interventions.  We then utilize the short cycle process of Plan-Do-Study-Act to develop a “base-model” instructional guarantee that all students will receive and that we ensure will be learned by all.  Then, additional extensions are discussed and decided upon for those who already know the information, or for those who master it quickly.  Finally, we discuss different small group instruction ideas and resources for those who have not mastered the information—YET.  A constant during this process is the use of formative assessment tools to measure students’ level of understanding.  Each teacher is now fully equipped to create daily lesson plans that are specialized for his/her students and their learning styles.

By utilizing the cyclical nature of learning and racing, the need to pace prior to pushing the metal to the floor to start that race, and the individual design and performance of each professional driver’s car, our team of educators at Draper produced a system that can sustain learning for many years while at the same time allowing for tune-ups, tire changes, and new paint jobs!

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

In addition to our state assessments (STAAR), our district is using NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) universal screener for all students at the beginning of the year (BOY), middle of the year (MOY), and the end of the year (EOY).  At Draper, we use this information to determine what gaps our students have that need to be filled at the intervention level, what our students are “ready to learn,” and how we need to extend the learning or level of complexity.

At year three of this implementation, the district asked us to conduct a pilot to utilize the MAP data as our driving force as opposed to a benchmark made from a released STAAR test.  This switches the focus from what a student must do to “pass a test” to the mind-set of what a student needs to learn to show significant growth during this academic year.

This shift of focus has not impacted our systems, but it has had a significant impact on the conversations we are having.  It is no longer about an average number on a specific learning standard, but it is now a student by student analysis of what we do if they already know the information and what do we do if they do not.  The common goal is to determine what is needed for each student to grow while under our watch. 

The success of this mindset is best seen in our Campus Distinctions for 2018 (attached).  As a campus, our mission is Story #4—that ALL students can and will learn at high levels.  We approach this through our shared vision of “Every kid, Every way, Every day”.  Our goal is that each child will grow while they are with us.  If they are not there, yet, then we look for progress.  We support our students as needed to fill the gap for that next step up the ladder of progress.  We value the fact that we are stronger and more effective as a collaborative body of professionals and work daily, weekly, and yearly to keep moving in the best direction for our students.

Texas Education Agency STAAR Distinctions

TEA Distinction Designations






Academic Achievement in ELAR






Academic Achievement in Math






Academic Achievement in Science






Top 25%: Comparative Academic Growth






Top 25%: Comparative Closing the Gaps






Postsecondary Readiness






 Google for Educational Reference District

  • WISD is recognized by Google because of the implementation, financial support, professional learning, and sustainability of our 1:1 Chromebook Initiative.
  • Draper Intermediate School was one of three schools to pilot the Chromebook Initiative.

Duke TIP Talent Search

  • Students qualify for the 4th-6th Grade Talent Search by achieving a score in the 95th percentile or higher on a qualifying exam. 
  • Each year, Draper students are invited to participate in the Duke TIP Talent Search.  The number of qualifying students can be found in the chart below.










University of North Texas Designated Internship Professional Development Campus

  • Each year UNT sends 15-20 to our Professional Development Campus to complete the requirements for their internship program.
  • Draper provides the internship for UNT students acquiring 4-8 certifications as well as EC-6 certifications in conjunction with an elementary campus.
  • Draper faculty collaborates with the UNT supervising professors to provide a range of professional learning opportunities.

Texas Future Problem Solvers State Competition

  • Students compete in teams of four to use the Torrance Creative Problem Solving Process to solve a futuristic problem on a pre-determined topic.
  • Students who qualify for the state competition meeting with other teams from across the state to determine who will advance to the international level of competition (except Novice level).
  • We have participated the last three years with the following results in the Junior Novice Division:   2018 Second Place overall; 2017 Grand Champion; and 2016 Third Place overall.

Fine Arts Programs

Band:  For the past ten years, Draper Intermediate Band has received Division 1 ratings at each annual competition.

Choir:  Choir has also received Division 1 ratings at each annual competition over the last decade.

Art:  The art students are celebrated at a district event aptly called “Celebrate the Arts” where students’ pieces from a variety of mediums are on display.  We have a decade’s worth of first, second, and third place ribbons, as well as numerous honorable mentions.