Lander Valley High School
- Number of Students: 560
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 23%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0%
- Percent of Special Education: 15%
- White: 80%
- Black: 0%
- Hispanic: 0%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 20%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 0%
Our PLC was built under the premise that we were not meeting our vision. In 2014-15 our school leaders sought out information from those in the state that were beating us in all measures. Our vision to be the #1 high school in the state of Wyoming in everything that we do was not being met, and as a result we knew we were not doing the best for our students.
That collective inquiry led us to one conclusion-that we needed to have time embedded during school hours for our students to get intervention and supports to be successful. We created a new block schedule that had 150 minutes/week of time set aside for students to receive intervention and enrichment. Depending on the day or time, our students utilize our Student Responsibility Block (SRB) for mandatory referrals when they fall below proficiency, for office visits to strive higher or seek understanding, or for opportunity courses like rock climbing or square dancing. This process has been going on since the 2015-16 school year; however, it became immediately clear that we needed to be more specific on what we wanted our students to know and be able to do. This realization was a product of both a finding from our AdvancEd Accreditation visit that happened that year, along with the realization from our teachers that in order to know when and how to intervene we needed to be clear on what we were going to guarantee every student would be able to know and be able to do.
In the fall of the 2016-17 school year we began the arduous process of prioritizing standards in all 9 departments and in every single section that we taught. Our district was great at providing the time and resources to allow our teachers to work together as a collaborative team throughout this entire process, which enabled us to conquer an incredible amount of work in very little time. Our teachers really bought into this practice as we were also building our institutional knowledge by sending teams of teachers and administrators to Solution Tree PLC Institutes. To date, all of our certified staff has attended an Institute and all of our new hires will be attending the Institute in San Antonio in the fall. Once the work was done we created proficiency scales for every prioritized standard and also created CFA's to ensure our students meet those standards. After bringing in a Marzano trainer to the district our teachers were sold on the idea of proficiency scales and they quickly began seeking ways to make the new scale of 1-4 work in their traditional high school grade books. During the 2016-2017 school year, several teachers from multiple departments participated in a pilot to figure out how we would convert our grade book. We really targeted the 2016-17 school year to be a transition year as we worked feverishly to prepare all of the systems that would be needed to make the conversion to Standards-based grading. In 2017-18 we transitioned 41 classes to standards-based grading which included classes in every single department. Teachers were given the whole year to “learn by doing” as they converted their teaching and assessing methods and curriculum to SBG. This year we added four more classes and expect to add 5-10 more next year. It is our belief that to clearly answer PLC question #2, the way students are assessed and graded must be changed. Our change to SBG has now allowed us to be very targeted with what our students are being referred to intervention for, and, instead of makeup work, intervention is truly about skills and standards that still need to be proficient.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Once we committed to ensuring that all students would learn at high levels we quickly began creating systems to ensure that we could adequately monitor student progress and respond effectively to those who were not proficient. On a weekly basis our teachers use a google form to refer students to our Student Responsibility Block (SRB) if they are not meeting standards. Teachers use a block of time during our advisory period to meet with their teams to create a plan on how to best intervene with the students that they have referred each week. These referrals are guided by our Data Analysis Protocol meetings where teachers break down their CFA data and discuss the overall effectiveness of their instruction as they look at the number of students who scored at each level. Those scoring less than a 2 are automatically referred to SRB, while those at 2 or 2.5 are at the discretion of the collaborative team as it may just be a natural spot in the learning process. Once a student has met proficiency in that area they are no longer required to attend SRB. This data analysis is crucial for our intervention process but it is also the bedrock of our instructional review. Our teachers not only use this to identify students in need of additional help, but also as a way of identifying strong strategies and teaching that best impacts student learning. The protocol forces teachers to consider what they need to do differently to improve instruction.
We have also got creative with days periodically throughout the school calendar, typically targeting days before a vacation. Our district often has half days before a vacation, thus we have transitioned to only requiring those students still needing to earn proficiency to come on those days. They are referred via a special Google referral form and then administration prioritizes the referrals and sets up a schedule for them to complete their referrals. These days have been a great addition as it allows students to catch-up and meet progress while also making sure our teachers are constantly reviewing who is needing additional assistance.
One tool that has made these special referral days easy for our students was something that was added to our student information management system once we converted to standards-based grading. It is a Progress Monitoring tool,through our Infinite Campus platform,which allows teachers to see every student and every standard on one screen and has either a green or red box for each standard with their overall proficiency level noted in the box. This is a great tool to show teachers who still needs their assistance in a quick overview.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
One strategy we use is we created a Student Responsibility Block (SRB) in 2015 to have time during the school day to ensure we were meeting the needs of all of our students. Prior to 2015, we expected students to drop in to our before or after school tutoring but were not able to require it due to it not being during the school day.
On Mondays our students have 90 minutes at the end of the day, and we devote the first 45 minutes of that to any English/Language Arts referrals that our teachers have made. The last 45 minutes is devoted to any Science referrals. On Wednesday our students have 30 minutes for any Math referrals. On Friday our students have another 30 minutes for any Social Science or Spanish referrals. Referrals are specifically for students who are lacking the skills needed to be proficient at the standard in a particular class.
Another strategy we use specifically deals with students and “will” issues. Will issues are dealt with through our Catch-up Lunch and is essentially tagged through a missing work report. Students who can and have the materials needed to complete their work are simply referred to a room staffed by classified personnel during lunch who hold them accountable to the work. Once they complete it, they are excused.
For some students, SRB and Catch-up Lunch are still not enough time, and so we implemented a third strategy where we got creative with our schedule and have quarterly days- that are usually before a vacation or near the end of the term- where we only ask the students who still need additional time and/or assistance to come to school. These referrals are done by the teacher using their progress monitoring tools and administration prioritizes multiple student referrals to ensure we have a plan when the student arrives.
Although we try really hard to get everyone across the line by the end of the term, inevitably we have students who still need additional time and/or assistance thus we have a fourth strategy in place- an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) that each teacher fills out at the end of the term for any student who still has an Incomplete (I) in any class. The ILP is very specific and targeted to the standards the student is still not proficient on and lists exactly what the student still needs to do to demonstrate proficiency. Students are given time during the next semester and summer school to complete any outstanding ILP’s.
Lastly, this year we also proudly introduced a very solid Tier III intervention for both math and english/language arts. Math and Language Lab are both taught by two very experienced and highly trained teachers with that instruction happening outside of the normal math and language grade level teaching. Students are identified using screening and progress monitoring criteria and only remain in the class until data shows their individual skill deficits have been addressed and lessened in order to bridge the gap to their current grade level.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
All of our teachers work on collaborative teams that are focused on the work in their respective areas in meeting our mission of high levels of learning for Every Student, Every Day and our vision to become the #1 high school in Wyoming in everything that we do. Every Wednesday our teams collaborate for 60 minutes using a common agenda that includes the four questions of a PLC, and each week the teams have to highlight which questions they are addressing to ensure they are focused on the right work. They also have 20 minutes each day during our advisory period to meet with their collaborative team members. They also have a designated time during SRB time where they meet to plan for future SRB’s and how they will deliver specific interventions to specific students. During these times our teams also meet specifically to go through our data-analysis protocol once they have delivered their Common Formative Assessments. These protocols allow our teachers to quickly see the differences amongst classes and teachers and begins a conversation that is guided by three simple questions:
What did our students do well on?
What did our students struggle with, and was that a result of the assessment or instructional challenges?
What will we do for the following students:
4’s -- How will we enrich this student?
2’s -- If this is a pattern, what are we going to do about it?
1.5’s and lower -- listed by student and plan moving forward
Students who score at 1.5 and lower receive the intervention that was formed as a result of the meeting at their next schedule SRB. Often the teacher who had the most success with the CFA will lead the intervention for the students who still need additional assistance. This data review is two-fold for us, first it helps teachers identify students who are not meeting the standards, however it also forces our teachers to have collaborative conversations about best practices, methods, and strategy. It is our collective building expectation that data review is not about what the students did not do and excuses, but what the teachers can do further to improve student learning.
When we became a professional learning community we also revamped our Building Leadership Team (BLT). In the past this group was comprised of department heads who were chosen by their departments, and typically they took turns as no one wanted to go to the additional meeting nor the additional responsibility. This team transformed into our guiding coalition and still consists of all the department chairs, but it also has others who have special skill sets or knowledge that we need on that team. The department chairs are now nominated by their teams; however, I have the final say who takes that role and we have made many changes over the last couple years to ensure that we have a very solid foundation. This guiding coalition was the team who began the arduous process of creating our standards-based grading system and the needed conversion to ensure that transcripts and graduating seniors were not adversely affected by these changes. Today, this team constantly reviews our systems and processes to implement changes that will improve student learning in our building.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Unfortunately, Wyoming over the last several years has switched their standardized test and the way they score and count it. In 2017-18, Wyoming gave the WY-Topp for the first time which gave us scores of overall proficiency that we will use as benchmarks to build upon. Prior to that they had used ASPIRE and then also Explore and Plan before it switched to ASPIRE. Those scores were never reported as percent proficient, rather they simply were listed as raw scores. We hope the reviewing committee will forgive our absence of this data and will use our ACT data, Grad Rate, 9th Grade Credit Attainment, and Advanced Placement Data as a basis to show the growth that we have made as a school during our PLC Journey. We would be happy to provide any additional data to the committee which would help justify why we should be a model PLC!
Named US News and World Reports America's Best Schools in 2017
Recieved AP District Honor Roll in 2018 for greatly increasing access to AP Courses while also increase percent who score 3 or better.
Had 12 AP Scholars/1 AP Scholar w/ Honors (previous year only had 2)
Raised Graduation Rate over 10 percent in 6 years and last year our Native American Graduation Rate was higher than our overall rate!
Named 2017 Niche Best Schools
Staff Presenting at:
Wyoming Innovations Conference
National Council of Teachers of English NCTE National Convention
Wyoming Association of Secondary School Principals (WASSP) State Conference
Week of Academic Vision and Excellence (WAVE) Conference
National Council Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM) Regional Conference
National Council Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM) National Conference
National Principals (NASSP) National Conference
Multiple Presentations and consults with schools in Wyoming and around the United States