Pasadena Independent School District

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

In 2013, our district committed to the PLC process by sending every campus principal with an assistant principal and campus team along with district associate superintendents and other district level administrators to the PLC at Work Conference in San Antonio (350 people).  And the rest, as they say, is history.  This district-wide effort of sending everyone to learn and hear the same message about creating Professional Learning Communities launched our interest and began the deep work and investment into creating strong PLCs at every level in Pasadena ISD with a focus on team collaboration resulting in improved student achievement.  The culture began shifting.

The energy was palpable and campuses began to work on their school PLC processes and building collaborative teams at each grade level.  As administrators launched this work by creating shared mission, vision, values, and collective commitments, we quickly determined that the PLC process was an ongoing cyclical process and the district had to provide consistent opportunities for professional learning, revision, and refinement.  We focused our attention on providing opportunities for new administrators to attend PLC at Work Institute and created a plan to support the work of campus administrators, teacher leaders, and teachers at the district level.  Knowing the power of a strong instructional coach in supporting teacher leaders, our district focused on monthly meetings for our campus coaches to support the campus PLC process.  

Campus Coaches are provided opportunities to grow their skills in coaching individual teachers and the collaborative teams and schoolwide PLCs they support.  Book studies such as Amplify your Impact and Make It Happen are used to provide our coaches with the tools they need to support the teachers who are leading the collaborative teams on their campuses.  In addition to coaching, district specialists work with campus coaches to understand and implement a solid Tier 1 instructional program by ensuring that the curriculum is solid, guaranteed, and viable.  Coaches work with teams to track their work through minutes, data meetings, and a variety of tools and effort to provide support “by student, by standard’.

In addition to providing ongoing professional learning for teachers and administrators, as a school district, we asked every school to begin work to modify their master schedule in order to create time for intervention or PIE Time (Planned Intervention and Enrichment) to provide just-in-time support and intervention for students.  While the process of changing the master schedule can be challenging, within two years, every school in Pasadena ISD had created time for Intervention and Enrichment during the school day.  

As we fast-forward to today, PLC practices are foundational to our work.   PLC structures are embedded in our strategic plan, discussed and shared at principal meetings, expected in our instructional coach training, and put into  practice in our weekly teacher collaborative teams.    Despite the unpredictable and devastating effects of CoVid-19 shutting down our schools, our PLC work became a shining beacon of light helping strong teams become even stronger during a time of what some refer to as “crisis teaching”.  Our teams moved forward with a rigorous curriculum as soon as students were back online. The PLC processes already in place launched our district into providing high-quality instruction, consistent feedback, and rigorous grading.   Are we there yet?  We will constantly be striving to learn more and do better for our students, but since 2014, the culture has shifted and we continue to grow and impact student achievement as a result of our continuous cycle of learning.  We feel confident that our continued work in this collaborative process has become a part of our school and district culture. This work will continue to manifest itself in making PISD a great place for students to learn and grow.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

One of the elements of our growth has been the realization that teachers, as the leaders of their individual classrooms, are the ones who can ultimately guarantee learning in the classroom.  Naturally, we use and dissect the various district and state curriculum documents to inform our teacher teams.  That said, our greatest successes have come from individual teacher teams using those documents as a support to their team-created essential learning outcomes.  When educators work together to establish pacing guides, essential learning outcomes, and common formative assessments, ultimately committing to each other as a team to use those documents, the curriculum becomes both guaranteed and viable.  

In addition to those promises made by individual teachers to their teammates, the use of data to inform instruction allows our teachers to provide intervention to students who need additional time and support.  The use of this “real-time” data allows us to provide time and support to students who haven’t mastered our particular essential standards.  Clearly articulating the essential learning targets for each course and grade level has been invaluable for our schools.  This creates an ownership of the curriculum and a strong sense of purpose amongst our teacher teams. A strategy we use in PISD to see learning in action is the use of Instructional Rounds.  This collaborative process focuses on a cycle of continuous improvement by customizing a problem of practice and utilizing a team approach to objectively offer input, solutions, and highlight promising practices.  

In terms of specific teacher actions, one key attribute  of many of the teacher collaborative teams is the ability to “swap” students based on student needs.  Teachers gather together in collaborative team meetings to discuss specific student needs and “draft” students based on those needs.  In this way, those teams can make the promise that, regardless of who the student is assigned as their teacher, they will receive the support they need from whichever teacher is most competent to teach that particular skill.  When Mike Mattos came to give our district convocation three years ago, one of the key messages was “our students” versus “my students and your students.”  A large number of our teacher teams have taken that to heart and have worked to establish practices that pair students with teachers who are expert at that particular learning target.

Finally, one area of dramatic improvement for our district revolves around helping all of our stakeholders understand the importance of quality Tier 1 instruction.   As a district we have been profoundly impacted by various practitioners who warn against starting the process by thinking of interventions for students who are struggling.  While we recognize the value of high impact interventions and enrichments, our first priority is to provide good quality instruction every day in every class.  

 

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

Our ongoing efforts to create effective systems of intervention has proven to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding journeys in helping students reach educational success.  District and campus leaders work collaboratively to ensure that training and resources are available to teacher teams and school staff in order to fulfill our “All Means All” goal.  Using the RTI Pyramid framework, Pasadena ISD focuses on ensuring that students receive the academic and behavior support they need in order to succeed. 

District specialists work together to help campus staff understand and embrace the philosophy behind “All Means All”.  Curriculum specialists help teachers build a strong Tier 1 by providing training and focused efforts on effective PLC and collaborative team practices, including determining essential skills, answering the four critical PLC questions, creating an assessment cycle to monitor students, and planning ways to respond when students struggle with essential skills.  Through our district-created curriculum, teacher teams are able to create their own common formative and summative assessments that are aligned to our state standards and then use that data to identify individual student needs.

 Pasadena ISD has intervention and behavior specialists whose focus revolves around assisting campuses in establishing effective systems of support for students.  Since beginning our journey in the RTI process, we have been able to build Intervention Assistance Teams at each of our 67 campuses as well as blocks of time designed for intervention in each of their master schedules.  As a district, we provide quarterly professional development where intervention teams come together to collaborate and continue learning ways to support students on both sides of the pyramid.  Academic and behavior interventions are equally addressed during this time which is carved out to improve campus systems of intervention.   We have also provided opportunities for campus teams to attend the RTI @ Work Conference and have hosted several RTI @ Work Wired events during the summer for additional staff to participate in ongoing learning.  In addition to addressing students lacking essential or foundational skills, our teacher teams are providing extension and enrichment opportunities for students who demonstrate mastery (PLC Question 4).  These practices allow all students’ needs to be met and reduces group sizes for students who require more intense instruction.  

Such training has helped our district move forward in creating collaborative teacher teams who have a shared responsibility in helping students succeed.  Tier 2 supports are provided using flexible and timely grouping based on the results of their common assessments at every level.  Secondary campuses have also created Tier 3 intervention classes to help students receive the help they need in remediating universal skills, while still allowing them to participate in on-grade level interventions during the intervention block.  As we reflect on the progress we have made as a district these past few years, we realize we have flipped the RTI pyramid, both literally and figuratively.  We continue to learn ways to proactively assist our students and use this framework as a preventative measure in ensuring that students’ needs are met in a way that is most helpful to them. 

 

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

In Pasadena ISD, we have leveraged several practices that have yielded positive results and increased our district participation in implementing core PLC/RTI processes and practices.  This common district and campus vision and support for PLC and RTI have proven to be critical in our efforts to create an “All Means All” environment for our students.

PLC Teacher Leader Collaborative - The PLC Teacher Leader Collaborative began during the Fall of 2013 following the districtwide attendance at PLC at Work.  The PLC Teacher Collaborative began as a blended learning resource for campus principals and served as a book study through the book Learning by Doing.  Beginning in the Fall of 2015, a structured process was put in place for Team Leaders to come and dig deep into the PLC process by surveying the Learning by Doing book and providing collaborative time to discuss campus practices related to the chapter being discussed.  Each year we adapt the PLC Teacher Leader Collaborative to meet the needs of our leaders.  After attending a 15 Day Challenge Workshop with Maria Nielsen in 2018, we developed modules for our PLC Teacher Leader Collaborative and received great feedback from principals and leaders attending as they continue to lead and refine collaborative practices.  From 2015 to present, almost 1,000 teacher leaders have been trained in the PLC process through the Pasadena ISD PLC Teacher Leader Collaborative.

PLC @ Work & RTI @ Work Wired Summer Events - Teachers and administrators have actively participated in PLC and RTI Wired events over the past three summers in which 1,500 teachers and administrators have been trained.  The Wired events are a part of our culture and principals expect this training to be provided for our teachers on an annual basis.  The Wired events are the next best thing to attending the Summer Institutes and Pasadena ISD has found this as an affordable way to train seasoned and new teachers and to maintain our district focus on PLC.  This training has been automated in our district as the expectation that all first year teachers attend this training prior to their second year to onboard in PLC and collaborative team expectations.

Grading from the Inside - We are on to our next level of work by looking at grading practices in an effort to move from traditional grading practices to a new paradigm where students are assessed based on mastery of standards over time (rather than averages of performance).  This professional learning challenges many of our notions about grading, ranking, and assessing students and the mindsets are shifting as we learn and grow together in our thinking around Standards Based Grading.  Tom Schimmer has become a trainer and thought partner with PISD as he has worked with several hundred district administrators, coaches, and teacher leaders in order to navigate this grading paradigm shift for our secondary schools.  Interestingly enough, the training in the past year has provided philosophical structures allowing many of these practices to be put into place as our schools face the challenges of grading during CoVid-19.   

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

We are proud of our gains in many areas of our data journey.  For our purposes here, we have broken our highlights into four subgroups:

  • Grades PK-2

  • Grades 3-5

  • Grades 6-8

  • Grades 9-12

NOTE:  The Texas state average of Economically Disadvantaged students has held steady for the last several years between 56% and 60%.  Our district average has steadily risen to 86% for the same time frame.  

PK-2 - Highlights include  95.6% of our 2018-2019 PK students demonstrating emergent literacy skills in writing as well as 94.4% of those students demonstrating proficiency in math.  Both of these numbers are roughly eight percentage points higher than the statewide average.

3-5 - Our statewide accountability data shows that we have steadily demonstrated at or above state average in both reading and math for 3rd and 4th grade while closing the gap with the state for both subjects in 5th grade. 

6-8 - Our PLC processes have manifested themselves plainly in our Mathematics scores as we’ve seen steady growth in all three of these grade bands.  We have also shown an ability to close the achievement gap in reading as compared to state averages.

9-12 - While we have shown steady growth and an ability to close the achievement gap at these grade bands in reading, perhaps our greatest achievement is what is occurring in our Algebra classes.  Last year, 90% of our students achieved mastery in Algebra (compared to 85% at the state level).  Just three short years ago, 75% of our students were achieving mastery.  This 15% jump represents a significant number of students whose school/career arc has been changed because of the success they achieved in the gateway class of Algebra.  We attribute this success to  the strength of our “tight” Algebra collaborative teams on each campus and the Algebra PLC work being systematic across the district..  

Additionally, we are proud to say that, even with the huge trial of COVID 19, we had a significant jump in the percentage of students scoring a qualifying score (3-5) on the AP exam.  This jump in percentage occurred in 10 of the 14 AP exam subject areas.  

Finally, in Step 8 - Additional Documentation of this application, we are providing a document with graphs that summarize our district performance on Texas standardized testing over a three year period in Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Science.  These graphs average our performance as a district in grades 3 through 11 and provide a visual depiction of growth over time in the following subgroup areas: ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged, english language learners, special education.  These graphs paint the picture of our district growth that we attribute to our focused work in developing “tight” PLC processes.  These PLC processes helped us maintain our overall growth even when the state increased the rigor of the standards and the expectation for student achievement. 

 

3 Model PLC Schools in Pasadena ISD in 2019-2020

  • Earnesteen Milstead Middle School

  • Morris Middle School

  • V. W. Miller Intermediate School

Pasadena ISD was a Featured Schools District on Solution Tree Webinar - A Streaming Success Webinar with Bob Sonju - September 11, 2019

Ranked #2 in Algebra out of Region IV Schools (54 school districts in the Greater Houston Area - Houston being the 4th largest city in the nation)

Pasadena ISD was one of 28 Texas school districts named to the College Board’s 8th Annual AP® District Honor Roll for 2017. 

Thirty-one Pasadena ISD schools help boost the City of Pasadena to the No. 9 spot on the Education Equality Index’ list of best cities for academic performance on state standardized tests among low-income students.

Pasadena ISD’s Personalized Learning program was recognized at the state level by Raise Your Hand Texas as an exemplary blended learning demonstration site and provided a $500,000 grant to expand the program’s reach among students in the district.

Pasadena ISD earned a “Met Standard” designation from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Campuses that fall under a “Met Standard” school district are eligible to earn distinction designations, awarded for achievement and progress in the following areas:

  • Academic Achievement in English Language Arts/Reading;

  • Academic Achievement in Mathematics;

  • Academic Achievement in Science;

  • Academic Achievement in Social Studies;

  • Top 25 Percent:  Student Progress; 

  • Top 25 Percent:  Closing Performance Gaps; and 

  • Post Secondary Readiness.

Bush and Meador Elementary Schools were named to the 2017–18 Educational Results Partnership (ERP) Honor Roll for outstanding academic achievements.

Pasadena Memorial High School earned a bronze medal after being named one of the best high schools in Texas by the U.S. News and World report.

Lewis Career and Technical High School senior Elexis Hernandez was one of four students selected for publication into Pioneer Research Journal for her article hypothesizing a special sensory device that can be reprogrammed to help other senses. After her research was published, she was accepted to Yale with a full tuition scholarship.

J. Frank Dobie and Pasadena Memorial High Schools recently advanced to the state competition of the Texas Academic Decathlon after ranking ninth and thirteenth in the state, respectively.

The J. Frank Dobie High School Latin Club placed first overall at the regional competition of the Texas State Junior Classical League (TSJCL) and advanced to state.

Beverly Hills Intermediate - National Online Pentathlon Winners:

  • BHI’s 7th grade team placed 2nd in the Nation in a field of 16 competing teams.

  • BHI’s 8th grade team placed 1st in the Nation in a field of 17 competing teams.

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