Mountain View Elementary
- Number of Students: 312
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 39%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 4%
- Percent of Special Education: 15%
- White: 77%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 17%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 3%
- Multiracial: 1%
- Other: 0%
In the Fall of 2019, we recognized that we were not upholding our Mission or moving towards our school’s vision. Subsequently, our guiding coalition met to review, revise, and recommit to our Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals. At this time, we made some major shifts to the way we were doing our work. We began to focus on learning and results. Additionally, we sought to change our culture.
In order to focus more effectively on high-leverage instructional actions, we began using data to inform our decisions and improve our instruction. We made a commitment to stop admiring our problems and begin focusing on solutions. Previously, our favorite past-time had been lamenting the fact that we were in a “tough school” through a myriad of examples. Adversely, we engaged in opportunities to generate ideas for responding to complex problems Additionally, we evaluated our test results and, correspondingly, our teaching practices in relation. We sought opportunities to support one another in our efforts to improve. We built teacher efficacy by identifying and sharing effective methods through our collaborative teams.
Our school schedule was revamped to ensure adequate time was allocated to all levels of intervention. Teacher teams were provided with a daily common prep in addition to two hours of collaboration on Wednesdays. One of these meetings was dedicated to addressing the four critical questions, while the second focused strictly on interventions. School-wide expectations were put into place for progress monitoring and setting individualized goals for students. Teachers conferenced with students regarding their progress toward goals as well.
Our teacher leaders are feeling more confident leading their teams. This is evidenced through their actions. While engaging in the hiring process this summer, the guiding coalition ran the interviews and selection process with minimal input from the principal. Despite reviewing forty potential candidates and interviewing more than ten impressive applicants, the committee was unanimous in their recommendations for hire. This was possible as a result of their work through the past three years. They have become clear on what they are seeking in future colleagues as they strive to align their beliefs and efforts. Another example of this is the support they give to each other. Teacher leaders and grade level teams have adhered to their collective commitments and hold each other accountable. They support one another in such a way that it is difficult to discern which teachers are mentors and who the newcomers are. As a school, we recognize that it is possible to be tough minded and adamant about protecting our purpose and priorities while building a positive school culture.
Currently, we are striving to build unit plans for our GVC. Teacher teams collaborated across grade levels to ensure that their identified essential standards are appropriately selected using the guidance provided in Chapter 5 of Learning by Doing. Standards that demonstrate leverage and endurance were identified. Teachers then referred to state assessments to ensure that they would encounter these skills and concepts. Each grade level selected standards based on this criteria to ensure students mastered by the end of their respective grade levels.
Mountain View is functioning as a true professional learning community. Everything we do is continuously evaluated by leadership teams and improved upon to ensure that we provide an environment where all students learn at high levels and teachers believe they can make it happen. When obstacles are placed in our way, such as a pandemic, an influx of students moving in, or disengaged parents, we adjust to address the problem. Each year we get a little better at achieving our SMART goals. Each time we reach a goal, we celebrate. Next, we set a more aggressive goal and work on achieving it.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Teachers at Mountain View are actively engaged in various stages of the teaching assessing cycle. Over the past three years our grade level teams have identified their essential standards and continuously refine their Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC) for each grade level. In order to have a clear understanding of the process for identifying the appropriate essential standards for each grade level, all members of our guiding coalition studied pages 81-86 in “Taking Action”, read chapter 5 in “Learning by Doing”, and watched “Busting Myths: Not All Standards Are Essential” featuring Mike Mattos (available on All Things PLC, Global PD). These great resources proved invaluable as teachers sought to conceptualize and appropriately implement the prescribed process by which to identify our school’s GVC.
As a step in this ongoing process, teachers answer the question, “What do we want all students to know and be able to do?” In response, teachers write a learning target and determine the success criteria. As teacher teams build their unit, they identify best practices for instruction and seek to incorporate effective strategies. Additionally, they address the question of “How will we know if they learn it?” by creating common formative assessments (CFAs) which are aligned to their learning targets and success criteria. As they review student performance data from CFAs, they analyze the results in multiple ways. They compare which classes performed the best; what concepts were and weren’t taught well; and which students need additional support. Oftentimes, teachers perform an item analysis to determine whether their students were able to engage in responding to higher depth of knowledge (DOK) questions.
Using evidence from their assessment analysis, teachers determine how to adjust their instruction for Tier I and how to support students in need of additional support through Tier 2. These actions answer the question, “How will we respond when some students don’t learn?” Students are given multiple opportunities to learn and master grade level content. Teachers recognize that students with deficits in learning and learning disabilities may need many repetitions and explicit, systematic instruction in order to master content. As a result, they consistently evaluate their own practices and seek to improve. Consequently, we are enjoying an increase in the number of students that are allowing us the opportunity to answer the fourth question, “How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?”
Student’s benefit from teachers providing feedback in an effort to ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills identified as necessary to be successful throughout their education and beyond. The results of the last three years of data testify to this truth. At each assessment period our students perform better than before.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Mountain View teachers and support staff recognize the moral imperative to ensure that our students receive appropriate interventions when they do not acquire the skills guaranteed by our viable curriculum. Our approach allows us to require students receive additional time and support for learning without missing core instruction in essential standards. Students are progress monitored according to their proficiency in standards. When a student is identified as not making appropriate advancement toward individualized goals, our team adjusts based on the data of screeners, diagnostics, curriculum-based measures (CBMs), and/or common formative assessments (CFAs). Following the adjustments recommended by response to intervention, our adjustments to interventions encompass instructor, program, intensity, duration, and frequency.
First, we seek to differentiate instruction for students through small group reteaching. When a student is not demonstrating proficiency in a grade level standard, despite multiple efforts to adjust the instruction and reteach the concepts with additional scaffolding, feedback, and support; we include the student in a Tier 2 intervention program. At this time, we provide instruction through an explicit, systematic intervention program. This varies by grade level and student need. Groups run between thirty and sixty minutes in length and occur four to five days a week.
In the event that a student continues to demonstrate deficiencies, we look to adjust within Tier 2 first and determine if the result was impactful. Our collaborative teams decide whether the student should be moved to another instructor’s group. We analyze their engagement and performance data to determine whether the student would benefit from an alternate instructional program or needs to continue the current one. Changing a student to a different group with fewer students is considered to increase the intensity. When the team determines it may be prudent, we add time to the instruction (duration) or have the student receive multiple versions of the lesson (frequency) at two different periods in the day.
We continue to monitor the student’s performance during the next few weeks and decide if the adjustments to the student’s intervention plan are having the desired result. When the student does not demonstrate above typical progress, we add Tier 3 intervention to their plan. This is where our school has made substantial improvement over time. Currently, we are able to offer students Tier 2 and Tier 3 support without interrupting their core instruction. Additionally, we are coordinating services between Tier 3 and our special-education department to ensure that all students are offered the instructional programs that are best fit to their needs. Many of our students benefit from receiving Tier 3 intervention lessons twice a day on the same lesson topic from two different practitioners.
The coordination of services we have planned for allows our students who need comprehensive plans of systematic interventions to succeed. We are ensuring that through our multilayered systems of interventions, students receive sufficient time and support.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Mountain View teachers work as members of collaborative teams on a regular basis. Teacher efforts are grounded in improving instructional practices to increase student achievement. Teachers on each grade level team benefit from a daily common prep period and weekly collaboration period in addition to our sacred, designated weekly time to discuss and address the four questions as members of a professional learning community. Our guiding coalition and behavior intervention teams meet regularly to review data and plan for school-wide improvement as well.
Every Wednesday morning our teachers meet for an hour before school to engage in discussions with their colleagues regarding their instructional practices, results of assessments, implications for improving instruction, and efforts to support students in learning at high levels. Teacher teams follow the teaching assessing cycle to improve individual instruction and expand student learning. Common formative assessments are created and aligned to our guaranteed and viable curriculum. When students demonstrate that they have not mastered the material, teachers analyze data and instructional strategies. Subsequently, students are grouped by specific needs and retaught to ensure that we guarantee mastery of our essential standards. During collaboration periods, teachers set specific measurable goals according to grade level, classes, and for students as individual learners.
At this time, the entire school meets in the library. Similar to other effective PLC schools, our agendas are guided by the four critical questions. Something that sets Mountain View apart is that there is no definitive distinction between grade levels or departments. It is not uncommon to see multiple grade levels huddled together planning to reinforce their GVC through vertical alignment. Additionally, the special education teachers move fluidly between grade levels discussing student learning with general education classroom teachers. They work interdependently to improve instruction and support students at the center of their efforts. For example, the speech-language pathologist provides input and suggestions for small group lessons with teachers to support the development of phonological awareness for students with deficits. Additionally, our mild-moderate special education teacher provides interventions to students on her caseload while braiding services for students in need of intensive interventions that have not been identified as eligible for an individualized educational program (IEP).
Educators at Mountain View seek opportunities to learn from each other and improve their practices. Every member of our school supports our mission of “ensuring that all students learn at high levels” by behaving as practitioners who engage in action research to meet the needs of our students. We do this because we truly believe “they are ALL our kids”. We honor our collective commitments and commit to maintaining the positive, proactive culture of our school.
Achievement Data Files
Utah Spotlight: The goal of the Utah Spotlight is to offer Utah educators inspiring stories of educational strategies that impact student learning in dramatic ways, and importantly, designed to encourage and support educators in enriching their own practice. It is an opportunity to shine a light on inspiring and engaging practices in education with ideas worth spreading.
Teacher Effectiveness: The state office of education reviewed Mrs. Tervort's data which demonstrated consistent student achievement over time. They observed and recorded her instruction to include in a video collection of high leverage practices in action to be shared with other educators throughought the state. Mrs.Tervort is a kindergarten teacher who has consistently moved over 60% of students from well below benchmark to above with an average of 90% of her students making above typical progress. Many teachers at Mountain View have improved their practice by implementing her recommendations. Now teachers across the state can too.