Fairmont Elementary School
- Number of Students: 633
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 51%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 8%
- Percent of Special Education: 3%
- White: 43%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 40%
- Asian: 14%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 2%
Fairmont’s PLC story began in 2004 when Sanger Unified School District sought a systemic change with the collective strength to challenge years of low student performance and help close the achievement gap. The PLC model, driven by educators, met this need. Now, 16 years later, the guiding principles laid out by the DuFours have become the bedrock of Fairmont’s culture.
Fairmont has embraced and sought to advance the PLC model, grounded in the four driving questions, as a reflection of our core values and culture. We guard our dedicated weekly collaborative time diligently; additionally, all grade levels routinely meet outside of this time. These teams work in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and with actionable, data-driven results. While each team’s minutes, agendas, and common assessment calendars may differ, our teachers work together to share best practices, plan, study results, and improve instruction for all of our learners. Furthermore, our secondary teachers collaborate monthly with teachers from other K-8 schools in the district, exchanging data on best practices to boost all students within our collective reach.
We have, in the last several years, continued to expand upon the capacity and coherence of our collaborative practices. We understand that in order to improve the learning of our students, we— the adults— need to improve our own learning. In light of this, we work in teams based on common interests in research inquiry through our Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles. We have furthered this culture of collaborative professional learning by instituting site Pineapple Days, a Fairmont concept focused on providing teacher choice within the site to observe multiple peers in best practices. At the conclusion of Pineapple Days, teachers are given ample time to debrief, discuss, and determine how to enhance school-wide practices. The success of this initiative has fostered the collaborative spirit of teachers leading to the use of prep times to observe one another, seeking further guidance and feedback from their peers. Furthermore, teachers have participated in book studies, such as Cognitive Guided Instruction and This is Balanced Literacy. In addition, on-going co-teaching opportunities are give throughout the school year where specific strategies and pedagogy are evaluated and adopted.
The PLC culture has been so effective on our campus that we expanded it to create our Student Learning Communities (SLC) model. SLCs mimic many of the essential PLC processes of teachers by organizing students into collaborative teams to analyze their own data and foster honest self- and peer-assessment. In an SLC, we teach students the necessary skills to be effective in implementing the four C’s of 21st Century Learning Skills: to collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically, doing all of this as an effective, proactive member of the learning community. Deliberate and high-quality collaboration in an SLC has proven extremely beneficial for our students, not only with academics but with deeper awareness and understanding of social emotional learning.
The exceptional growth and improvement Fairmont has created over the past fifteen years has gained the attention of school districts across the country. We have been visited by local, state, and nationally-elected elected officials, school districts, and educational experts. We have also presented at both state and national conferences regarding our PLC and SLC work, most recently in Washington D.C at the National Schools to Watch Conference. Our PLC journey has been highlighted in multiple publications including the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) Educational Leadership Review in the spring of 2016 and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching “Networked Improvement Science” through the University of Virginia in 2016.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Both the culture and climate of Fairmont are built around monitoring student learning and increasing student achievement through the four driving PLC questions. All collaborative teams meet formally on a weekly basis, but they also have the ability to meet at least twice each week through common prep times. Each grade-level collaborative team is also given two professional development days throughout the school year to foster their collective efforts. In addition, 6th-8th grade collaborative teams meet monthly with other K-8 sites within Sanger Unified. Our collaborative teams are fully aligned with the enduring standards set forth by the Guaranteed Viable Curriculum (GVC) and proficiency maps created by our teachers with the guidance of Sanger Unified.
To ensure the learning plans effectively meet the needs of students, teachers implement both state- and district-level interim assessments, along with consistently scheduled and team-developed high-quality assessments. All teachers participated in the development and creation of Quality Assessment Tools (QATs) to ensure assessments meet the rigor and clarity of standards needed to truly determine levels of student learning. Targeted interventions and enrichments occur after each common assessment to address the needs of learners who are struggling as well as those who have shown proficiency. Fairmont is grounded in the transparency and accessibility of student data through the school-wide use of shared pacing guides and common assessment calendars.
At the heart of our collaborative efforts is our belief and ability to generate and attain challenging, powerful SMART goals to increase student achievement. In addition, Fairmont’s collaborative practices have evolved into innovative student empowerment with Student Learning Communities. SLCs were born out of the necessity to generate increased student ownership and heightened engagement with their learning. In essence, SLCs are a student model of PLCs that have evolved to include— but are not limited to— student-led evaluation of learning, self- and peer-assessment, individual and team SMART goals, and teacher-created tools utilized to activate collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
Self-reflection and ongoing feedback is vital in our PLC journey of student achievement. Site-created evaluation guidelines have been established and utilized to help refine practices in three key areas: instruction, assessment, and collaboration. The 1-5-10 scales offer both individual and team clarity around expectations in these three areas and have served as a catalyst for ongoing improvement practices. Individuals and collaborative teams evaluate themselves in these three key areas in the beginning, middle and end of year to encourage and monitor growth.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Fairmont has developed strategic supports to ensure our collective response to question three: How will we respond when students don’t learn it? Before any assessment takes place, our collaborative teams work diligently to provide clarity around what students are expected to learn. From this knowledge, collaborative teams develop high-quality assessments using their grade-level QAT. Teachers then bring the data from their classes to their team, where they jointly analyze instructional practices and disaggregate the data. Sharing and analyzing data is a critical element of our collaborative teams, as well as our PDSA improvement cycles, a system that our teams have embraced to address the needs of all students. Multiple streams of fluid intervention, including deployment, are built into grade-level schedules throughout the year. Our Academic Language Development (ALD) designated time is one such intervention designed to address the deficits in reading, writing, listening, and speaking identified through common assessment data. Strategies like ALD provide students with self-reflection opportunities, re-teaching, and re-calibration for both teachers and students.
Another effective intervention occurs when a collaborative team determines that some students have not yet achieved mastery. Fairmont has clearly established Bootcamps (typically a 1-2 week intervention for 40 minutes per day) to ensure multiple opportunities for students to succeed. Grade level collaborative teams use data to identify students to include and discuss successful teaching practices to plan the Bootcamp re-teaching sessions, determining which team member could provide a new experience for student learning. During the Bootcamp session, grade-level standards are strategically spiraled in order to proactively facilitate student learning. A prime example comes from first grade’s 2019-2020 Bootcamps. An initial math assessment given resulted in an average of 18% of students not meeting standards. Bootcamps were instituted to target specific standards and skills resulting in over 99% of students showing proficiency on these targeted standards. Embedded in Fairmont’s PLC culture is the full ownership of collective commitments translating to a highly engaging academic learning environment for all students.
When students need help beyond what can be covered in ALD and Bootcamps, typically due to foundational literacy skills, we move them into our Response to Intervention (RTI) program. RTI is centered around these foundational literacy skills in which we deploy students four days a week of protected time built into Fairmont’s master schedule. Students are grouped based on literacy skills identified through teacher observation and district-wide diagnostic tools. Students identified as strategic, or intensive meet in a small group focused on the literacy skills they have yet to master. This RTI model is solidified through daily and weekly data collection and bi-monthly grade-level RTI meetings.
The targeted outcome of all of these support systems is to ensure all students have multiple opportunities to attain and practice the skills needed to master grade-level standards through individualized support. Fairmont is dedicated to a focus on learning rather than on teaching, thus making it imperative to meet the needs of all students.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
In an effort to build high-performing, collaborative teams focused on student learning, Fairmont has imposed a variety of strategies and tools to ensure success. Collaborative teams are not limited to grade-level teams. Through the site development of Special Teams and the implementation of Pineapple Days, each staff member is invited to be an integral part of the high-performing synergistic culture on campus. Fairmont Special Teams were created to empower teacher leaders. Within the Special Teams model, 10 focus areas (special teams) were created for staff members to voluntarily join teams that suited their strengths and passions. The Special Teams structure is designed specifically to galvanize school staffers to create high impact on performance and efficiency within the school. The belief here was that if the right conditions were created teachers would be more solution-focused, synergistic and develop deeper ownership of programs and philosophy. Special Teams brought individuals and teams together producing tremendous leadership opportunities at all levels including top, down, across, and within. Special Teams produced faster-deeper processing, efficient problem solving, higher quality solutions, and a clear, unmistakable formula that deliberately and consistently empowered teacher teams. Furthermore, Pineapple Days help foster the continuous building of teacher capacity and coherence to ensure high quality instruction, assessment, and collaboration.
Collaborative practices have been refined through the use of High Leverage Team Actions (HLTA) that has contributed to the significant increase of student achievement. Fairmont annually chooses one or two HLTAs to focus on throughout the school year. The collective identification of the year’s most important HLTA(s) streamlines the efforts of all of our teams. For example, during the 2018-2019 school year, our collaborative teams identified HLTA 7: Using in-class formative assessment processes effectively as a point of emphasis. To ensure the effectiveness of grade level assessments the Quality Assessment Tool was used to calibrate in areas such as rigor and depth of knowledge. The quality and quantity of formative assessments were analyzed, evaluated, and refined over the course of the school year.
Furthermore, Fairmont’s collaborative teams created 1-5-10 rubrics in areas of instruction, assessment, and collaboration. The 1-5-10 rubrics are made up of 10 specific statements in each of the three areas that compels teachers to choose their true level of implementation on either 1 = lowest level of implementation, 5 = partial or inconsistent implementation, 10 = full or daily implementation.This has become a catalyst for ongoing, specific self-reflection and has instituted a common language necessary for high performing teams.
Leadership is consistently and actively engaged with all collaborative teams. To this end, our leadership team developed a rotational schedule to allow key site leaders to fully engage, connect, and support collaborative teams in weekly grade-level meetings throughout the school year. The principal, Curriculum Support Provider, Literacy Specialist, English Language Development teacher, Intervention Teacher and Resource Specialist all have assigned grade-level collaborative teams each week to ensure that each leadership position has a partnership with all grade levels and content areas spanning transitional kindergarten through eighth grade.
Achievement Data Files
Golden Bell Award for School Innovation and Closing the Achievement Gap 2014
California Gold Ribbon Award 2016
National Forums Schools to Watch 2x Re-designation 2015, 2018
Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support Platinum Level 2018
Bonner Virtues of Character Award CSU Fresno 2018
California Honor Roll (Campaign for Business and Education Excellence) 2018-2019