Estacada School District

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

For several years in the Estacada School District, we had practiced “PLC Super Lite”. At best, we had one or two teams district-wide trying to practice the DuFour Model of PLCs, while the rest of the district spent many hours meeting, talking about students, planning instruction, discussing field trips, brainstorming fundraisers, etc. It was clear that as a system we failed to focus on the four key questions of a professional learning community and the three big ideas that drive PLC work during our designated time.  

However, in 2016-2017 we began to go “all in” as a district to systematically institute the DuFour Model PLC and made the following key changes:

  • We invested heavily in PLC staff development by sending 10-15 staff a year to a national PLC conference, and hired Tim Brown to lead an on-site full day of professional development for our entire district.

  • We have dedicated at least two full days a year to refine, revisit, adapt, and further develop our teams in the PLC process and do the work that needs to be revisited annually.

  • We created a two hour PLC time every Wednesday with a student early release event.

  • We combined our two K-5 schools to increase collaboration for PLC meetings. This allowed us to have 5-6 teachers per team as opposed to 2-3 professionals per team. 

  • Created a shared Google folder for all teams to share their team documents and district templates

  • Collaboratively created templates for the following:

    • Backwards Unit Planning

    • Essential Learning Standards by Term

    • Scope and Sequence for courses or subjects

    • Data analysis forms for common formative assessments

    • Team meeting notes 

    • Team Norms

  • Increased the amount of time for professional development and placed the PLC process as the recipient of the majority of our professional development.

  • Established a weekly administrative team meeting to reflect, plan, and measure the effectiveness of our PLCs.

  • Invested approximately $712,000 in 2018-19 school year in PLC professional development (This includes staff time allotted to our PLC work)

Through the careful selection of leaders and teachers and application of a PLC lens throughout the hiring process, we have added a strong cadre of collaborative, risk-taking, results-oriented staff that have assisted our teams in moving forward in our PLC journey. PLCs are not what we do for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon, but rather how we think and approach student learning all day, every day.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The creation and implementation of a guaranteed and viable curriculum is an ongoing process that is reviewed and refined each year as our professionals better understand our students’ strengths and weaknesses. In addition, we continue to refine the needed rigor to attain proficiency and purposefully reflect on our prior years experience. Beginning in August our teacher teams evaluate the national, state, and professional standards for their grade levels and content areas, our previously identified essential learning standards, student results from the previous year on SBAC, NWEA’s MAP growth data, and all local common formative assessments. 

A significant amount of time is allotted for this work and we utilize Larry Ainsworth's guide to assist us in our collaborative work by asking the following questions:

  1. Does the standard have endurance?

  2. Does the standard have leverage?

  3. Does the standard prepare students for success at the next level?

  4. Will the standard prepare students for success on high-stakes external assessments?

Mid-year we have time allotted for our teams to evaluate their progress towards the essential learning targets and make any small adjustments needed based on our current data from MAP and our common formative assessments. Once again, in June our teams re-evaluate their year and begin discussing our essential learning standards for the upcoming year based on our latest data and full year’s experience while it is fresh in our minds before we break for summer. 

As our teacher teams continue to collaborate on what we want our students to learn we are also deliberate in our development of frequent common formative assessments to monitor student learning on a timely basis. Each of our four schools have standards-based report cards and evaluate student progress on student proficiency towards our essential learning standards. All assessments are designed to measure student growth and proficiency toward standards and our common formative assessments are utilized to assist in identifying students who are in need of additional time and those who need enrichment standard by standard. We have developed a common formative assessment data analysis template that our teams use to identify- student by student and standard by standard- a student’s progress.

 

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

Along with daily formative assessments in the classroom, and the use of our teams' common formative assessments, our teachers utilize data from MAP and Dibels to timely identify students in need of interventions and/or enrichment. Once a student is identified we have set up a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) specific to each building. Regardless of building, our students are provided the needed supports, standard by standard and student by student, within the regular school day in our work to ensure that “all” students learn at high levels.  

Three of our schools have sent a team of teachers to a RTI at Work conferences and they have all newly designed their systems to be put in place next year.  Our older system placed the responsibility of providing assistance to our Tier 3 students on specialists only. In addition, few of our Tier 2 students needs were being met. Therefore, each school has established a new process where teachers and collaborative teacher teams provide Tier 1 & 2 supplemental support for students in identified target areas of the essential learning standards. In addition, each building has a school-wide team that plans and executes a program to address students in Tiers 1, 2, and 3 during a structured time within the school day to all students in need regardless of special program participation. These school-wide teams ensure that all students are learning and providing everything from behavioral, attendance, and motivational supports, to intensive remedial support designed to make sure that “all” means “all”.

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

In the 2014-2015 school year our district embarked on creating our first district strategic plan in more than a decade. This plan was inclusive of all aspects of our district and included a strong emphasis on the development of Professional Learning Communities. For the first time, our district and community placed a high priority on high functioning professional learning communities district-wide. As a result, in the 2015-2016 school year we began looking at the hard reality of our student learning data, prioritizing the DuFour model of PLCs, training new and more experienced staff in PLCs, and focussing on results. More importantly however, we made the DuFour model of PLCs a district initiative and no longer allowed schools and collaborative teams to opt in or out of this initiative.

During the summer of 2017 we had a new superintendent join us and in his own words shared that, “The Estacada School District was ALL IN with the Dufour model of PLCs.” As a result, we have invested heavily in the training of our teachers and administrators in PLCs while limiting other initiatives in order to maintain this focus. We brought our two K-5 schools together to work collaboratively in teams of 5-6 professionals and we provided two hours a week on Wednesday to do the DuFour model work. 

This work has been guided by “Learning By Doing” and we have collaboratively created important GoogleDoc templates to assist us in doing the work, sharing the work, and evaluating our strengths and weaknesses together. Every newly hired teacher is provided a copy of “Learning By Doing” and PLCs and Standards Based Learning and Reporting are two major areas we develop in a four-day onboarding event for all new staff. We also have periodic meetings with teachers soliciting feedback on how to improve the PLC process and conduct surveys of staff and parents soliciting feedback on how to improve what we do. Or leadership team last summer, including our instructional coach, completed a Fishbone and Driver Diagram in order to identify how we can strengthen our PLC effectiveness. This work was utilized to guide us in our “all in” efforts and allowed us to respond quicker to teacher and team needs. 

Prior to last school year “PLCs” meant two hours a week to most staff members. Today I am proud to say that “PLCs” is an attitude and belief that is present in the Estacada School District at least 8:00-4:00 five days a week.

 

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