Brown Elementary

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

Tell us how you built shared understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work process.

At Brown Elementary, we build shared understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work Process the following three ways: creating a vision and mission as a whole staff, created "What an excellent teacher looks like" checklist that turned into a walk-through form, and utilizing quarterly SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Research-Based, Timely) goals that define the 4 Critical Questions.

Our staff came together during a professional development day to create a vision/mission statement that we not only all agreed on, but was something that we would use every day with our students. We started with each grade level creating a vision that they felt represented our staff and students. We looked at the seven visions that were created and narrowed it down to two. We are a staff of 55-60 teachers (depending on the school year) and it was a vote that was literally split in half. At this point, we stopped, had several staff members give us a training on Social & Emotional Learning that was given to them by the district. During this training, we all read an article called Got Grit. This article was the focus of the learning and the lesson of this training. The next day, after having a chance to reflect on our learning the day before, my leadership team and I came together to not only combine the last two visions created, but also came up with our staff mantra of Got Grit! Our vision was approved by all staff and is, “We are committed to learning through perseverance!” This vision can be seen posted around our school and in our classrooms and students are rewarded for perseverance and grit on Friday announcements each week. During staff meetings, our staff gives “Got Grit” awards to each other for showing perseverance and grit throughout each month.

After creating a common vision and mission, as a staff, we also discussed what excellent teaching looks like in a classroom. All teachers took part in this collaborative discussion. The result of this collaborative activity became our collective commitments as a staff and can be used as a walk-through form that administration would use every time they walked into a classroom. (See artifact) It became an acronym: H.O.P.E., which stands for:

  • High, Clear Expectations
  • Organized Implementation
  • Positive Community
  • Engagement.

All staff agreed that these were items that should be present and seen any time anyone walked into their classrooms, a collective commitment. The first year it was utilized in this format. Two years later, teachers created a checklist of items that can be seen in classrooms that align with each of the components in H.O.P.E. All staff decided together that the items fit under each section, another way we had collective commitment. (see attached artifact)

The final way that we built shared understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work process was to meet weekly as grade level teams, and create quarterly SMART goals, the SMART goals contains the 4 Critical Questions that teachers should be asking themselves and each other when collaborating and  focusing on student learning. Each grade level created SMART goal assessments that aligned with the Nevada Academic Content Standards (NVACS) for both ELA and math. The NVACS included Common Core State Standards. Grade level teams utilize the data from these SMART goals to make educated and data-based decisions on instruction and student intervention needs.

Our collaborative efforts of creating a common vision, mission, our H.O.P.E walk through/collective commitment, and our grade level SMART goals helped us build a common understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work process.



Tell us how you are facilitating a culture of continuous improvement in your school (district). (Recommended word count is 250–500.)

We are facilitating a culture of continuous improvement at Brown Elementary by implementing data-driven grade level team meetings and whole staff professional development that is aligned to our instructional needs on a yearly basis. Our professional development before the 20/21 school year focused on Essential Standards due to new Covid Protocols and having students both in building learning and distance learning in each grade level. Our staff needed to collaborate more than ever to ensure our distance learning and in building students were receiving the same instruction and learning at the same high levels. We reviewed our collective commitments as a staff, for our team meetings and create our final collective commitments for students that also fell under our H.O.P.E. format. (High expectations, Organized implementation, Postive community, Engagement) Our 20/21 school PD focused primarily on re-opening during a pandemic, with 2/3 of the staff in building, and 1/3 doing distance learning. We realized that focusing on our essential standards and ensuring student mastery of our essential standards has to be the main focus for this school year with so many other unknowns. Utilizing our essential standards as our basis to guide our instruction and verify learning helped us achieve consistent MAP scores across grade levels from Winter MAP 2019 to Winter MAP 2020. It demonstrated that students hadn't regressed after being on distance learning the spring of 2019, just reviewing standards already taught as requested by our district. Our staff was ecstatic! We piloted the new school performance plan (SPP) for our state in Spring of 2021 and reviewed all data, see artifacts, and created our new SPP goals for the 21-22 school year focusing on our SMART goal (Common Assessments) as the basis for verifying student learning and achievement.  

Our staff meets as grade level collaborative teams weekly. We collaborate as a staff and created our collective commitments to each other on what a collaborative team meeting should look like. (see artifacts.) We also have a Special Education team that also meets weekly to collaborate and align instruction based on data. Each case manager also meets with the grade level team during their meetings to enable them to be a part of the instructional process and decisions for their students. This year with 1/3 of our staff working from home through distance learning, we realized we also need a distance learning team, with a lead teacher who can contribute and participate in the leadership team discussions/meetings. We have discussed the 4 critical questions in detail. We continue to model how this looks when discussing student data. We have also incorporated the district embedded Plan, Do, Study, Act instructional framework that aligns with our SMART goals/4 Critical Questions. Our grade level collaborative teams utilize an agenda that focuses on data using the 4 Critical Questions when creating common assessments to evaluate progress on our SMART goals. (See attached example.) Each year, our grade level teams update their curriculum plans to ensure that they are following the Nevada Academic Content Standards and meeting the needs of their students. After the teachers have updated their yearly curriculum plan, Teachers look at their Essential Standards and update, change if needed. Finally, grade level teams look at their SMART goals and recreate or update each quarter to align with standards and student needs. Our staff facilitated the culture of continuous improvement by also implementing an administrator H.O.P.E. Walk Through form for the grade level team meetings. During professional development, the staff created a checklist of items that should be the focus of their grade level team meetings to maintain momentum and when administrators observe their grade level team meetings. (See attached example.)

Our staff also has implemented an MTSS (RTI) team that meets bi-weekly. This MTSS team consists of a teacher from each grade level, psychologist, two counselors, administration, speech therapist, and Learning Strategist. We have incorporated guiding questions from the book, Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work into each meeting. The grade level teacher/representatives take the questions back to their grade level team meetings and discuss. When returning to the next MTSS meeting, the teachers have a collaborative discussion that promotes continuous improvement and vertical alignment throughout the school. For the 19/20 school year, we created a new set of questions utilizing the Taking Action book. These questions will be asked my the MTSS grade level rep to their teams and information brought back. This will help continue vertical alignment across grade levels. For the 20/21 school year, we have decided due to testing protocols that our grade level common assessments need to be added as a major piece of data to decide student interventions, movement through the tiers, and this piece of data will help keep all grade levels aligned since our Aims Web data will not be as consistent due to the pandemic and new protocols as it has in the past. Our MTSS team was vital and instrumental in ensuring our students still received the appropriate interventions while also trying to follow Covid protocols of 3 and 6 feet apart.

Along with grade level team meetings and MTSS, our staff collaborates to decide professional learning needs and opportunities for the next year. Utilizing district provided professional learning and our own instructional needs, we meet monthly to collaborate and learn together to improve instruction for our students. Our professional development for the 19/20 school year was to align both our Nevada Kids Read Law/Guided Reading information with 21st Century Learning while having a Science or Social Studies focus each month. Along with strategic professional development, our staff also participates in book studies as needed. In the past three years, we have read and studied books that align to our focus. This year after having our own teacher’s model whole brain teaching, our staff decided they wanted further information on this topic. Seventy-five percent of staff meets weekly to learn and improve their instruction by collaborating and implementing ideas from Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle. After completing our Plan, Do, Study, Act reflection in May of 2020, we realized that our focus for this year moving forward, was to focus our PD on our MTSS process and continue to align vertically, fine tune our interventions for math and writing now that our ELA interventions are consistent throughout our grade levels, and continue to focus on our Essential Standards and the 4 guiding questions/Smart goals to ensure both our in building and distance learning students are receiving high levels instruction. After piloting the School Performance Plan in the Spring of 2021, we realized that our Common Assessments/SMART goals are definitely the focus and gives us the correct data to make educated decisions on which interventions students need, and how important Tier 1 instruction is to all of our students. During our MTSS team meetings for the 20/21 school year we focused heavily on our EL population, the data from the Access testing reports and realizing the 'Can Do's' for students learning English as a second language truly helps us provide specific instruction to meet their needs. 

Our staff at Brown Elementary continues to believe in a culture of continuous improvement and strives to focus on what is best for students. Our 21/22 whole staff committment goal is, 

“Deeper learning is enhanced when formative assessment is used to

  1. 1.  make learning goals clear to students
  2. 2.  continuously monitor, provide feedback, and respond to student’s learning progress, and
  3. 3.  involve student in self- and peer assessment”

-Learning by Doing

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

  • Describe the process that your school (district) uses to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum. 

Our staff at Brown Elementary continues to strive to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Our grade levels utilize NVACS to refine and update their curriculum plans each year by creating Essential Standards for each subject and then utilizing and studying the SMART Goals/Common Assessments that align to those Essential Standars. Grade level teams discuss student data to ensure students are mastering the standards and ensuring that team members are aligning their teaching and assessing consistently. Along with refining and updating their yearly curriculum plans, Essential Standards, and SMART goals, the grade levels also meet yearly as verticals to ensure that their curriculum plans align with NVACS and do not overlap the grade level below or above them. Staff also wants to ensure that concepts and standards flow and make sense in the order that the standards were placed in the plan based on what the grade levels below and above are focusing on.

Our grade level teams also meet weekly to focus on the 4 Critical Questions to plan by creating Smart Goals/Common Assessments based on their Essential Standards. The teachers focus on the Study and Act pieces as they determine what they will do if the students didn’t learn the content and what will they do if the students did learn the content. During this collaboration time, teachers update their curriculum plan, Essential Standards, and SLO & SMART goals as needed and ensure all instruction aligns to the NVACS and students are prepared and ready to go to the next grade level. Based on the data from the common assessments, grade levels are able to make changes, improve instruction, and/or change the SMART/SLO goal to align better for student needs. This year the focus of our grade level teams is to look at common assessment student data and also improve teacher instruction as well as provide necessary instruction for students to master the essential stadards. (see artifacts)

During the 20-21 school year our district requested Essential Standards per grade level, recruited highly effective teachers in those grade levels to come together and align all Essential Standards from all 60 elementary schools and create one common list of Essential Standards (based on NVACS including Common Core State Standards) for both ELA and Math. All schools, and us will utilized these Essential Standards moving forward to ensure consistency throughout all our elementary schools.

Describe the strategies your school (district) uses to monitor student learning on a timely basis. (Recommended word count is 150–500.)

The strategies that we use at Brown Elementary to monitor student learning on a timely basis are: Smart Goals/Common Assessments, district expected Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) three times a year, and AimsWeb to monitor all students in interventions to decide next steps in the MTSS (RTI) Tier system. The tier system requires that we collect student data on a regular basis to evaluate how each student is achieving and what is needed to support each student. Teachers individually also use running records, Words Their Way, and multiple other formal assessments to monitor student growth and improvement. All grade levels are required to do a minimum of one common assessment/SMART goal for ELA and math per quarter. This year, with 1/3 of our staff distance learning teaching and 2/3 teaching in building, the grade levels have discussed how important common assessments and instructional alignment is to ensure that both our in building and distance learning students are receiving the same high quality instruction. All common assessments/SMART goals are aligned to the curriculum plan and state standards. Our grade levels are at a minimum 3 teachers and maximum of 5 teachers this year. Utilizing the Common Assessments kept our grade level teachers aligned and maintained high levels for learning for all of our students both in person and distance learning. We were thrilled with our students progress on MAP from Winter 2019 to Winter 2020, however our SBAC scores dropped and we realized that we will need to continue to really answer the question did our students learn the content and what will we do if they did not this year to improve our state testing scores after dealing with this pandemic and exclusions and students changing from in building to distance and back and forth. The 21-22 school year, all students are back in the building learning and we are hoping that we can maintain that throughout this school year. 

In the past few years, we have had up to ten teachers in one grade level that worked/collaborated together to create NVACS aligned common assessments for all the students in their grade level. When our state required districts to incorporate Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s) as a percentage of teacher’s evaluation, we spent professional learning time looking at the SLO requirements and what we were already doing with our SMART goals/Common Assessments. We realized that the SLO aligned with what we were already incorporating and continued to utilize the 4 Critical Questions in our SLO’s. Our district requires one SLO for the school year. The SLO counts as one of our two common assessments per quarter for each grade level. The Plan, Do, Study, Act framework is also a continuous reminder that we need to not only collaborate together to create and teach the common assessments based on our Essential Standards, but also come back together to look at student data, develop a common grading policy throughout the grade level, look at how did our students performed on the assessment, and then decide next steps and possible improvement of instruction and lessons for students based on the results. 

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

At Brown Elementary, we have created and implemented systems that continuously improve our instruction. We created a master schedule (see attached) that has core instructional blocks and intervention blocks for all grade levels. (We have two master schedules for this year, one that aligns with not being able to use the lunchroom for lunch breaks, and one we will utilize if we all return to the building when the pandemic has ended.) Our core instructional time is sacred; all students participate in core, grade level instruction. Students should not miss core, grade level instruction. During the intervention times, students have specifically designed interventions geared to their individual needs. We also utilize our MTSS (RTI) System/Team. Our MTSS team meets bi-weekly to discuss students who may need more Tier 3 support/interventions. Student data brought to the meeting will demonstrate that the student has been receiving Tier 2 support and interventions and as a team, we decide what the next steps are for each individual student. Our grade levels meet and discuss all of their students and specifically the students receiving Tier 2 supports and interventions at least once a month. Our district utilizes Aims Web Plus as our monitoring assessment tool, however, this year with 1/3 of our students distance learning, we will be utizing aligned common assessments weekly and bi-weekly to monitor student growth. Teachers use this Aims Web and our common assessments to monitor student improvement, along with MAP data, and informal assessments. We utilize ELA intervention programs that our district has provided for interventions for both our Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels of support. The two programs are LLI (Literacy Leveled Intervention) and Phonics First. This year, we our in our 2nd year of implementing a new ELA series, that now has an intervention piece. Our distance learning teachers are going to pilot this intervention and see how it compares to our LLI and Phonics First interventions. Several of our teams share students during intervention time based on student data and results over time, to ensure students are receiving the instruction that they need on a regular basis. Our staff will use these three programs for our ELA interventions, continue to use Dreambox for math interventions and our MTSS team is working this year to create a baseline data point for writing by grade level and will be working on creating a writing intervention that will include graphic organizers to provide writing interventions this year. The MTSS team meets and discusses students and decides if another intervention should be put into place or if special education testing is necessary on a bi-weekly basis.

Another way we provide students with additional time and support for learning is our district provides stretch run funds that are to be used to prepare students for our state testing. We have non-full time teachers who come in and provide reading/math instruction/interventions during 3rd quarter for all students K-5 that will benefit from additional interventions based on the data we’ve collected throughout the year. These interventions are scheduled during our master schedule intervention time. The purpose is to continue to give students the interventions needed to succeed based on the MTSS process and give them an extra intervention to help them master grade level standards.

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

As a staff, there are several ways that our high-performing, collaborative teams focus their efforts on improved student learning: team meeting agenda that incorporates SLO/Smart goal data based on Essential Standards, grade level norms, and yearly goals. The first piece of building teacher capacity is to create a meeting agenda that focuses on the 4 critical questions. This is an expectation for every team to discuss common assessments (SMART goals) at each team meeting. Focusing on the critical questions helps to ensure we are discussing and collaborating to decide what we want our students to learn based on our standards. Using this student data to not only drive our instruction but also help solidify what type of supports and/or interventions students may need based on the standards that are being focused on. Another way that we build teacher capacity is that we create norms as a team that each teacher/staff member needs to follow at each meeting to ensure that we stay focused on looking at student data and improving our instruction as needed. Norms are revisited at each team meeting and improved or updated as needed. After administration attended the PLC at Work Institute in Salt Lake City in October of 2018, it was taken to leadership that we needed to add the piece of what do we do if someone is violating the team norms. Our leadership team added ‘pen up’ which became the code to alert everyone that we needed to pause our conversation, revisit the team norms for a moment, and then continue on with a focused discussion around instruction and learning. This piece of violating norms and how to respectfully stop and move forward in the right direction was then added to the team norms to give people a respectful way of letting members know we need to refocus on the right work. Along with utilizing a meeting agenda and norms in team meetings, we also incorporated yearly goals for each team. In past years, I have also incorporated both the Critical Issues for Team Consideration from the Learning by Doing book. Our teams go through the 18 statements and rank themselves. Following the ranking activity, grades levels decide what goal the team will work on for that school year. We also revisit this mid-year and at the end of the year to see how teams are progressing on their collaborative goal. This form has been utilized by all staff for the past 5 years. It gave our teams various ways to improve their collaboration and utilize their time wisely. This year I changed it up and used The Trust on Our Team Survey from Taking Action. I had the staff actually fill it out individually first anonymously and then come together as a grade level team and discuss the descriptors. Each year, we have new staff come in to each grade level. This is a way to have everyone align themselves to their new grade level team and become a stronger, collaborative unit. I will also be having the staff retake the survey at the end of the year and then have them compare the beginning of the year and end of the year surveys and discuss important pieces that will help them decide next steps for next year.

Our professional development before the 19/20 school year focused on The Opportunity Myth article that was presented to our district last year. This discussion/training helped us review our collective commitments as a staff, for our team meetings and create our final collective commitments for students that also fell under our H.O.P.E. format. (High expectations, Organized implementation, Postive community, Engagement)

Moving into our 2020-2021 school year, Covid19 Pandemic protocols and procedures were presented to our school board and the decision was made to have families choose between in building learning full-time or distance learning full-time. This required creating a 'Back to Building' team of staff members that looked at all new protocols and procedures to create what the norms of school looked like in building and distance learning. Our academic focus that was decided by this team of staff members was that we would need to slow down and focus this school year's instruction on our Essential Standards and SMART goal/Common Assessments to ensure both in building and in distance learning students are mastering those standards. During the week of PD prior to students starting, our grade level teams had required trainings from the district along with updating grade level curriculum plans, essential standards, SMART goals/common assessments, and SLO's as needed and focusing on Chapters 9 and 7 of Learning By Doing, specifically rating themselves on the PLCs at Work Continuum: Turning Data into Information, and Responding to Conflict. (see attached examples of GTM Checklists)

After piloting and completing our SPP spring of 2021, we are continuing our focus on Collective Efficacy, and vertical alignment of all common assessments. Our main focus is a quote regarding formative assessments that we all chose as the basis of our teams this year: “Deeper learning is enhanced when formative assessment is used to 1.  make learning goals clear to students 2. continuously monitor, provide feedback, and respond to student’s learning progress, and 3.  involve student in self- and peer assessment." -Learning by Doing


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The data attached includes K-5 school-wide data and district (Washoe County School District) data.

  • Brown SBAC 20-21 School Year
  • 2020-2021 Data compiled to be the only elementary school in WCSD that piloted the new School Performance Plan format/framework. 
  • 21-22 Smart goals for SPP created during SPP Pilot process
  • Brown 2019-20 School Profile Book 
  • SPP Needs Assessment Results
  • School Performance Plan Partial Data for 19/20 school year due to Covid and state testing cancelled.
  • 2019-2020 Quarterly Scores that align to our SPP goals
  • Parent Climate Survey 2020
  • Distance Learning Survey 2020
  • 2019-2020 Annual Accountability Report
  • 2020-2021 School Performance Plan Smart Goals
  • 2018, 2017, 2018 NSPF Brown Framework
  • SubGroup disaggregated Data for 3-5 SBAC and K-2 DRA
  • Kindergarten through second grade has the past 5 years of DRA scores. 
  • MAP data is school data only.
  • The 3-5 data demonstrates state testing, SBAC, scores for the past 5 years. This data shows state CRT's and converting to SBAC compared to WCSD. For 2014-2015, schools did not receive indivdual school scores/data, district overall is represented. 
  • School Performance Plan (SPP) for the past 4 years and the data collected in house to align with SPP. We came very close or have met all of our school-wide SPP goals for the past 4 years.
  • SPP one page summary for past 2 years. We met and exceeded our SPP goals for 18/19, & 19/20 and are working on SGP focusing on our SMART goals/common assessments aligning with our 5 essential standards again this year. We truly feel that is what helped our increase in both proficiency and growth this past year. 
  • School Climate Survey 18/19, 19/20
  • Distance Learning Climate Survey 19/20
  • See attached graphs of overall ELA/Math 17-18 data













Jan 20/21: District email regarding how our Kinder students utilizing DreamBox: Of the 50% of children using DreamBox, most (and almost all) are on track. Just wanted to say nice job to your teachers who are integrating this as a tool. It shows their hard work of getting students ready for 1st grade.

Fall 19/20 Washoe County School District Award: Inspiring Elevation Gains in Student Achievement: Sustained High Growth Across Subjects

NSPF 5 Star School for the previous 3 years (We went up 6 points the 18/19 school year, 90 out of 100.) No rating for 19/20 due to Covid.

National Model PLC School 2019, 2020

Nominated for School of the Year, 18-19 (New WCSD project this year)

Our Student Council was nominated for Student Group of the Year, 18-19 (New WCSD project this year)

Our Student Council were recognized by the Reno Aces Fundraising Program & Greater Nevada Credit Union for raising funds for the past 2 years. They placed 2nd and 3rd is highest fundraising in the community. 

We were voted by the school board to stay off the Multi-Track Year Round Calendar for both 17-18, 18-19 school years due to the highly organized and efficiently way our very over-crowded school was operating.