Greenbrier Eastside Elementary
- Number of Students: 373
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 55%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1%
- Percent of Special Education: 13%
- White: 88%
- Black: 5%
- Hispanic: 4%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
- Multiracial: 1%
- Other: 0%
Eastside has been steeped in the PLC process for three years as part of the Arkansas Department of Education's PLC Pilot Program. At the beginning of our PLC journey, Eastside had recently gone through 7 years of 7 different admin teams. The school was underperforming relative to other schools within the district. Teachers were working in isolation amidst a variety of inconsistencies and lack of clarity. While the teachers cared about their students, the culture within the school was focused on compliance. Designated collaborative time was not used to focus on student learning, but as a vehicle to deliver information to the staff. One of the first steps was to establish a Guiding Coalition. These members became empowered through the six coaching days of the PLC Coaching Academy. As part of this academy, we realized the need to revisit our mission statement. All of the staff collaborated to pen Eastside’s mission which now states, “Our mission is to build a strong educational foundation while meeting the unique needs of our students.” To realize that mission, we set a unified vision and established collective commitments.
Building on this foundation and the learning of our staff, we have centered the work around the 3 big ideas: meaningful collaboration, a true focus on student learning, and a laser-like attention to results. Through ongoing coaching and support, the staff has come to embrace and implement the work that this entails, and have seen the benefits of following the process for student success. The guiding coalition has transitioned from being an event-planning body to a purposeful capacity-building group that guide the work within the collaborative teams and support schoolwide processes to achieve our mission. We have moved from a culture of individuality and random acts of improvement to a systematic continuous cycle of collective inquiry (Plan Do Study Act). In this process, teams use the four critical questions to guide their work. They analyze/clarify each essential standard, identify evidence of proficiency as they design their common assessments, and develop a plan from their results to ensure that all students receive additional time and support as needed to master the standard. The staff is eager to try new strategies and change the “way things have always been done.” Teachers are not afraid to look at their own practices compared to other colleagues to become more equipped professionals in this work. Our learning serves to improve student learning. If the evidence shows that students aren’t learning, we make changes to our teaching practices. If students are showing growth, we celebrate! We celebrate with the student, with the team, parents, and with the whole staff.
We have embraced the idea of the kids being “all of our kids." In the first year, a teacher said in a collaboration meeting, “In the beginning of the year, I didn’t truly understand how that would even be possible. Now, I see it! We are helping kids from various grades and classes in our own rooms. The kids have become all our kids!” Another teacher shared, “We have always worked hard, but now we are doing the right kind of work.” Eastside staff has moved from operating in strictly compliance to now total commitment to the students and the process.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
As a school, our work was guided by the four critical questions of learning. One of our first "ahas" in the process was our need to clarify what students needed to learn and what proficiency looked like against the standards. After reviewing the district-developed power standards, we identified the need to engage in developing essential standards using the REAL (Readiness, Endurance, Assessed on High Stakes Assessments, Leverage) filters. Furthermore, there was no consistent picture of proficiency across grade bands. As a school, we engaged in identifying essential standards and learning targets, which we vertically aligned, paced and developed aligned units of study. Teacher teams constructed a shared picture of proficiency for each essential standard and paced them across the year.
By answering the 4 questions and using the PLAN-DO-STUDY-ACT process, our teams have created unit plans to ensure that the essentials were addressed across the year. Within each plan, essential standards are unwrapped into learning targets, common formative and end of unit assessments are created, and best practices for instruction are identified. These assessments are used to determine whether students learned the essentials, and helped to target student supports as appropriate, and are used to monitor student progress toward the mastery of standards over time. Additionally, the school uses ACT Aspire end of year, ACT Aspire interims, and NWEA MAP to monitor student learning.
Each team has a shared Google drive, where they house all items such as CFAs, unit plans, and results spreadsheets of kid by kid, skill by skill. Additionally, teachers use a common team meeting room in which data can be found wall to wall tracking the progress of individual students who receive interventions, as well as grade level SMART goals anchored to essential standards. Not only do teachers have the knowledge of this data, but they have empowered students to track their own learning and set goals through the data binders which are created in all grades. Twice a year, we have student-led parent conferences. In years prior to students owning their learning, this was a process of many instructional days lost in prepping kids on how to talk to their parents. With data binders in place, this has been a seamless process since kids already know how to talk about their learning using data.
Staff saw a need for not only students with academic deficits, but also students lacking in social/emotional behaviors. Our team of specialists (e.g. music, PE, counseling, keyboarding, library, art, enrichment) identified Tier 1 essential behaviors based on the school's PRIDE acronym (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dependable, and Engaged). Once they were defined by the team, each specialist took an essential behavior to teach and gather evidence within their specialized content. For example, the enrichment teacher focuses on perseverance due to the challenging tasks that students are presented in her classroom. She engages students in reflecting on their level of perseverance within the task and helps them identify strategies for persevering when tasks are difficult. The focus on the PRIDE dispositions has already begun to transfer to the general classrooms.
We continue to refine our systems to ensure that we know where each and every student is in their learning so that we truly have a guaranteed and viable curriculum.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Prior to the beginning of our PLC journey, Eastside had a district-prescribed Tier 3 intervention time (PROWL) established. At the time, this remediation focused primarily on students who had been retained and only served a limited number of students, leaving several hundred students idle for 30 minutes of the day. Teachers remarked that they never felt like school started until after PROWL was over. To make this time more purposeful and productive for all students, we began asking these critical questions: who really needs support, who is actually receiving support, what do their supports look like, who is providing the support, and what are the other students doing while students are receiving the support?
In the fall of 2017, over half of the students at Eastside were reading below grade level, making this a critical area for our intervention efforts. School leadership and the teacher teams began by identifying the students needing intensive support in reading foundational skills (i.e., phoneme awareness, decoding, phonics) using data from high stakes and diagnostic literacy assessments. Based on this data, we began re-envisioning how we could structure a system to support a significant number of struggling students, using quality practices, with highly-trained staff while we did something meaningful with those students not requiring support.
Our current reality is that all students, including those who are identified as having special needs, are either receiving intervention/remediation in reading foundational skills or enrichment during the first 30 minutes of the day. PROWL time is highly focused time that uses flexible groupings based on frequent, embedded assessments, and has clear targets for student learning. We use an all hands on deck approach, with the most qualified teachers, including SPED teachers, working with the students demonstrating the greatest needs. Our specialist teachers (e.g., PE, Music, etc.) all play a role in the process, whether it's providing direct instruction to a small group of struggling readers, or working with an enrichment group. Through this refined system, we have reduced the number of students reading below grade level from over 50% to 31%. We're on the road. We are also working on refining our model of service delivery in special education, using a co-teach model in first and second grade.
While PROWL time was focused on ensuring Tier 3 supports, we recognized the need to develop a specific Tier 2 time for the learning of grade-level essentials. Once we had firmed up our practice of designing and using common assessments, we also refined our intervention/extension system by revamping our schedule grade by grade to embed specific Tier 2 time for both literacy and math. This allowed for additional support teachers to push in and help create smaller student groupings for interventions and extensions. We have also become more intentional in our different types of support for "will v. skill" students.
Most recently, staff recognized the need for all students to receive enrichment, so PROWL was reduced to 4 days weekly, with Fridays now being devoted to student-selected "clubs." The clubs are structured around real-world skills and offer students choice to engage in activities that don't require traditional academics for success. Clubs have provided an opportunity for students to have a say in their day. An unforeseen side benefit has been reduced absences on Friday.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
In order to build capacity across teams, the guiding coalition has worked to build shared knowledge and empower members of the collaborative teams. As a result, Eastside’s collaborative teams consistently focus on student learning of the essential standards. They use the Plan-Do-Study-Act model to identify and unwrap essential standards for each of their units of study, determine common assessments, and design the plan for implementation. These initial conversations have contributed to raising and clarifying expectations for student learning around the essential standards and ensuring that everyone on the team is clear about the level of rigor and the aligned evidence they will be looking for in their students’ learning. Teams set SMART goals for their units and monitor the results.
In grades 3-5, there is only one teacher per subject, so the teachers are members of vertical teams in either literacy, math, or science. This vertical configuration required us to use a different protocol that would engage everyone but also build on the value of looking at progressions in the standards and shared expectations across the school. Now, the vertical teams work together to look at the progressions and give each other feedback on their assessments, the results (looking at student work), and strategies for supporting students or extending their learning. Lately, we have collaborated as a grade level team to create common assessments and set SMART goals on common essential standards linked to word study!
All teams also monitor the level of proficiency on essential standards on an ongoing basis as well as use the ACT-Interim assessments to ensure that students are making progress toward proficiency.
Teams use data from their common formative and end of unit assessments to see which students have learned and when they haven’t, they determine the best interventions and deliver them during Tier 2 time. The team members are constantly looking at their practices to see which are most effective. From year to year, their instruction has improved because of this process, which has then led to students learning more.
The work of our “specials” teachers (e.g., PE, music, art, library, tech) has shifted since our implementation of PLC. Together, they have focused on Tier 1 instruction of the social skills and behaviors established throughout the school, and have identified common assessments they use within their specific content instruction.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
We take pride in serving the students of Eastside Elementary including our at risk learners! The staff is equipped with skills and training to assist these students' needs. One fourth of our population is considered highly mobile with move ins and move outs occurring weekly. We have the pleasure of being the elementary school in our district that is home for all foster students in Greenbrier. Although these circumstances make things difficult, it truly is rewarding to see these students succeed! One student that receives special education services and is a foster child experienced great success in taking the ACT Aspire Interim tests this year (which he had never taken before). His response when meeting benchmark in two areas was, "I've never done anything like that before!". Thus, this is the reason we all do what we do, to help all kids succeed. This is directly tied to our mission of helping students succeed with all their unique needs.
- Eastside has been featured three times on the All Things PLC website. Below are the links to these articles.
- The Journey to Collaboration at Eastside March 2018
- PLC The Chance of a Lifetime for Eastside Elementary December 2018
- PLC: The Catalyst for Change at Eastside Elementary April 2019
- Eastside was asked to write an article for AAEA (Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators) in October of 2019
- Eastside has received the A letter rating from the state for the past three years.
- Eastside has received reward money for three years in a row.
- 2016-2017 School Year - Top 6-10% Performance in the State $20,013.84
- 2017-2018 School Year - Top 6- 10% Performance and Growth in the State $39,664
- 2018-2019 School Year - Top 6-10% for Performance in the State $19,350.00
- Niche named Greenbrier Eastside Elementary as the #4 out of 500 schools for Best Public School Teachers in Arkansas.
- Schooldigger rated us #35 in the state out of 487 schools. (4 years ago we were ranked 109th.)
- The school continues to be a model for the district and surrounding districts, many of whom have come to observe the work in action.