Del Prado Elementary

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

The process for building a professional learning community at Del Prado Elementary has been a long journey.  It is one that started six years ago with very little appreciation of how instrumental it would become in improving conditions for learning and student performance.  We began by creating systems that would support the work within a professional learning community by first prioritizing collaborative planning time in the master schedule for grade level teams.  Even the small step of building in common planning time for 90 minutes each week posed a challenge for our school.    Because we average between 8-10 sections per grade level, identifying coverage for teachers every day during regular school hours without "extra" staff was a formidable task at our non-Title, K-5 school. With common planning in place, we still needed to broaden our understanding of results-driven professional collaboration to optimize instruction and achieve a guaranteed, viable curriculum across all grade levels.  This phase involved using a root cause analysis framework to identify achievement and instructional gaps along with specific tactics for problem solving in these areas.  We identified SMART goals as grade level teams and as a school to structure the improvement process along with creating norms for how teams would work productively collaborate.  It then became our mission to connect every component of our school improvement plan to the collective values shared for working as a professional learning community, including at our faculty meetings and during professional development sessions. We also connected our PLC at Work practices during classroom learning walks to assess the essential agreement evidences in addition to the performance appraisal system, data analysis sessions and leadership meetings.  

While our school consistently met annual proficiency thresholds, we were still struggling with meeting improvement goals for struggling students who failed to make learning gains, thus hindering progress for ALL students. Instituting a professional learning community culture at Del Prado was the key for increasing overall and lowest quartile learning gains in all subject areas, thereby increasing our total school accountability points.  With SMART goals in place, the actual work within teacher collaborative teams was framed within the four guiding questions focusing on content area standards and high-yield teaching strategies for student-centered learning conditions. Essential resources were also critical to the process.  This included ensuring ease of access to content area standards with grade level articulation crosswalks, test-item blueprints, pacing guides, DOK (Depth of Knowledge) cognitive and learning task charts, as well as curriculum resources during all collaborative planning sessions.  One of the greatest discoveries made during the root cause analysis process accounting for a lack of learning gains was that many were teaching either one to two grade levels below the standard, or never reaching the "level 3” cognitive target that the standard calls for on the learning scale (Marzano learning scales).  This led teams to a shift from planning activities around the curriculum to lesson planning from a backward design approach based on the four guiding questions.  As a result, teachers increased variability and frequency of monitoring methods for results-driven learning based on the standards.

The next step involved focusing on the "how" by developing the conditions and strategies for learning that would give students standards-aligned tasks to achieve the goal of what we want them to know and be able to do.  We also discovered in this phase, with our focus on complex text, task and talk, that one or more of these critical elements that ensure rigor and student-centered learning was missing from every day instruction.  This is where teachers truly put their heads together to create standards-aligned, versus standards-referenced, tasks that included daily flexible grouping for more personalized instruction.  To further support our teachers with creating standards-aligned tasks, we focused our professional development on learning high-yield strategies for increased student collaboration and discourse during instruction. We revamped our professional learning format so that all teachers actively participated in learning from their colleagues in a make-and-take fashion. 

Finally, our focus on what will we do for students who have or have not achieved the learning goal led us to collaboratively plan intervention, extention and enrichment.  This phase of planning presented complex challenges for teams as many teachers had to restructure teaching styles and pacing to allow for continuous formative assessment throughout the unit to support student needs on the spot, versus waiting until the end of the unit with much less time afforded for intervention, extension or enrichment.  Commiting to the instructional essential agreements plan helped us make these needed changes for the benefit of all students.

These steps were not accomplished all in one year.  Rather, we dissected one of the four guiding questions in manageable phases to achieve our goals. A key element for ensuring each step was followed with fidelity involved my own personal commitment as the principal to attend and support every single collaborative planning session.  I viewed this, along with my assistant principal, as sacred time spent with my teachers.  My role in the process would vary by providing modeling, redirecting, resource management, problem resolution and questioning so that teachers ultimately owned the work both individually and collectively.  Listening to their challenges and removing barriers were my critical tasks to help teachers achieve much needed buy-in with the process.   As a result, this reflective inquiry process has really become the principle method by which all elements of our school improvement plan are completed with success each year at Del Prado Elementary.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Student monitoring is one of the most critical parts that must be included in lesson plans in order to benefit from a continuous reflective and improvement model.  At Del Prado, we created a tiered system of monitoring for teachers to better conceptualize the implementation timeline and methods for implementing both formative and summative assessment.  Each lesson plan had to include a monitoring method to answer how we would know if students learned the standard.   This helped teachers identify learning struggles and achievement gaps, plus enrichment needs in a timely manner.  Methods for student monitoring varied widely based on the design of the learning task. They included exit tickets, think-pair-share, observation with anecdotal notes of student discourse, reading running records, cooperative learning activities with accountable roles, student products, teacher/student consultations, use of Google classroom technology to provide real-time feedback and a host of other methods.  These methods typify daily student monitoring so that instruction could be modified based on the data.  For monitoring students’ writing progress, teachers also implement scoring calibration sessions during collaborative planning sessions.  Both teachers of gifted and non-gifted trade anonymous writing samples to provide rubric scores and calibrate their assessments to maintain viable and guaranteed writing expectations.

In addition to daily informal monitoring, teachers are required to administer a variety of FSQs (Florida Standards Quizzes) per unit.  These are directly aligned to the unit content area standards and provide an additional level of monitoring equivalent to common assessments.  Teachers often customize these FSQ's, or common assessments, based on varying the versions and frequency of administration as teams deem necessary.  The content of the common assessments correlate to the cognitive complexity load of the standards they address and include various performance objectives collectively decided upon by teacher teams.  Once teams come to consensus on the content of the standards-aligned common assessments, they are administered to students consistently throughout teams and results are analyzed using reports disaggregated at various levels, such by individual and standard strands, question item analysis and percent of students who performed above and below proficient threshold, as well as lowest quartile. The collaborative discourse during these team analysis sessions focuses on tracking results back to instructional strategies, techniques, resources and flexible grouping modalities that did or did not provide enough support for all students. Decisions are subsequently made on how to reinforce or re-teach using a different approach, extend learning time, alter student groupings for possible intervention, or incorporate other instructional resources. Teachers have become apt to share their expertise with each other based on assessment results, thus fortifying the continuous improvement model practices that yield results in our professional learning community.      

 Finally, end of unit assessments provide a summative look at student progress.  They are formatted like the FSQs and provide data for report card progress.  The school district also supplies computer-based diagnostics on a quarterly basis to accurately project expected performance on the state administered FSA assessment.  These data are analyzed during collaborative planning sessions, as well as during individual data chats held between administration and teachers at critical points during the year.  

 

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

Based on the data derived from active monitoring, teachers plan ahead for intervention, extension and enrichment needs. As stated, our lesson plans include sections for addressing all three of these areas with relevant tasks based on cognitive levels of the standard being taught. Flexible grouping based on daily monitoring is a required element of instruction during the ELA and Math blocks.  The typical model of instruction includes a fluid delivery of whole group and small group instruction. Separate tasks are planned for students needing intervention at a lower cognitive level of the same standard so that students may receive intensive support at a skill-based level.  For example, math instruction is based on the standard at three levels – concrete, representational and abstract.  For students who need intervention based on a formative method of monitoring, they are supplied more concrete models during small group to build their comprehension before being released to do the work of the standard at higher levels based on performance evidence.  Students requiring extension deemed as additional opportunities to practice the skill or concept are supplied this as part of the flexible rotation model, as well. The flexible group rotation model releases up the teacher to provide small group and one-on-one support for students needing intervention or extension. The same model is required for ELA with extension support beyond the 90-minute block during a structured daily intervention of iii (immediate intensive intervention).  Students requiring this level of support are grouped according to reading levels and switch teachers to receive daily intensive instruction during a 30-minute time period.  The Leveled Literacy Intervention program is utilized along with other resources to support daily customized intervention and extension.  The "iii" model is fluid as students' progress is reanalyzed every six weeks to determine if the intervention is still needed. 

Additionally, all students are also placed on a personalized path of support using computer-based instruction to address learning gaps after administration of quarterly diagnostics. One of the daily rotations within small group includes computer-based instruction to provide additional time on task for remediation or enrichment. The small group rotation model provides the differentiated means by which teachers and support staff effectively address intervention and enrichment needs for all students.

Moreover, students exhibiting a need for intervention are identified early on based on the MTSS model (Multi-tiered Support System) and as decided upon by the data analysis of the School Based Team using data-based probes, reading running records, common formative assessments, and other diagnostic resources.  The small group rotation model provides Tier I core instruction interventions provided by the grade level teacher during ELA and Math blocks.  Students who may require Tier II level of support receive extended instructional time provided by the teacher and support services staff during the content area blocks and based on an inclusion model.  Others may require intensive intervention and extension through Tier III services provided beyond the regular instructional blocks by reading specialists. The MTSS model of intervention and extended time support is also fluid and student progress is analyzed on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis based on single and standard strands.  Therefore, students may shift from varying levels of support based on their performance required by the standards and subsequent learning goals.  

Yet another means by which extended learning time is provided is through before and after school tutoring time.  Student data is analyzed during grade level collaborative planning time and as a leadership team at critical milestones during the year for Math, Reading and Science. We analyze reading running records, previous year FSA results, common formative and summative assessment trends, teacher observational notations, quarterly diagnostic predictor results, student work samples, and other data resources to ensure extended learning time and intervention are provided to students exhibiting academic risk factors.  The Morning and After School "Panther Den" is offered three times per year in 9-week sessions for all three content areas with a focus on additional practice and instructional reinforcement presented in multiple learning modalities by our own Del Prado teachers.  

 

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

Building high performing teams is an on-going process at Del Prado based on the continuous improvement model.  As grade level and special areas teams, we continuously assess our performance as teachers along with school leadership using student performance results as a basis for determining our own level of effectiveness as a professional learning community.  Special areas teachers are particularly instrumental in supporting our PLC at Work practices as they also collaborate regularly and plan backward-designed, standards-based lessons with learning goals, monitoring methods and formative assessments to track progress within their own content areas while integrating cross-curricular standards for reading, writing and math as appropriate.  Since grade level teacher teams meet daily at 1:30 in an alternate format before the day concludes, special areas teachers provide coverage for classroom teachers for the last half hour of the instructional day.  They assist teachers with additional instructional reinforcement during this time.  Special areas teachers who are certified in multiple areas also contribute with strategic extended time support in classrooms during the first half hour of the day before their classes begin, and during "Panther Den" tutoring before and after school. This bridge of support helped build a sense of staff community and edifies our commitment as professional learners that we ALL are truly responsible for the academic success for ALL students.  

Student feedback and performance evidences, teacher input and parent reflection during School Advisory Council and multi-media portals are all used to track our progress on meeting SMART goals for individual teams and those set for the entire school in academics, culture and safety.  To keep performance at the forefront of our work relative to academic progress, we posted data charts on the walls of our strategic planning room by grade level and teacher for the purpose of building collaboration and student-centered conversation as teams.  At first teachers were a bit hesitant to openly share student performance results in this manner.  However, once we included as part of our collective commitments that we are responsible to ALL students and to our supporting our colleagues, we were able to cross that barrier by shifting to productive conversation based on student needs during data analysis sessions.  In addition, having all essential resources on hand helped streamline our work and increase productivity.  To ensure this responsibility did not fall on just one person, we decided to assign rotating roles during collaborative planning sessions so that everyone had a part in providing essential resources for shared accountability.

Yet another gap that we discovered during our root cause analysis phases is that were not maximizing the instructional support of our ELL (English Language Learner) and ESE (Exceptional Student Education) support staff during classroom instructional time.  We noted this gap based on observations during instructional rounds, lagging student performance trends (see resource section- working school improvement document - by subgroup) among certain sub-groups whom required services, and by reanalyzing our master schedule for optimal methods to group students and provide their services.  Based on staff consensus, we decided that ESE and ELL teachers would benefit by increasing their knowledge of grade level standards so that their support for students did not revert to basic review of skills or monitoring for time on task efforts during support time.  To accomplish this, we made changes in the schedule such that ESE and ELL teachers would be able to attend grade level collaboration sessions and be included in standards-based lesson planning.  ESE and ELL teachers benefitted by deepening their knowledge of the individual grade level standards, and grade level teachers were able to glean valuable intervention techniques previously not known.  This single change also enabled ESE and ELL teachers to increase their ability to track student progress in a timelier manner.  They also collaborated within their own ESE and ELL content areas to analyze performance of students whom they serviced and create their own backward-designed lesson plans based on the grade level standard being taught with incorporation of the students' IEP skill or language-based goal(s). 

 Finally, we added non-negotiable evidences for ESE and ELL staff during our instructional rounds as administrators and teacher teams so that we could consistently analyze our effectiveness on instruction and student learning as an entire staff.  The results of instructional rounds are regularly shared during collaborative planning so that reflective conversation takes place based on trends with continued focus on improving student learning conditions.    These data along with a regular stream of student performance results and the input of our leadership team that meets weekly all help us monitor and adjust tactics to maintain our commitment and adherence to the SMART goals and collective commitments created at the beginning of the year.   

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

All public elementary schools in Florida are issued school grades based on a point system of performance in certain categories derived from the annually administered (FSA) Florida Standards Assessment. These include points earned for percentage of students achieving proficiency thresholds in ELA (English Language Arts), Math and Science (5th grade), in addition to percentage of students making learning gains in ELA and Math, plus those students in the lowest quartile making learning gains in those subjects.  For schools like Del Prado where half of our student population is enrolled in the gifted program, meeting overall proficiency does not often pose a challenge at the earlier grade levels.  However, it gets harder to support gifted and non-gifted students who are not making adequate yearly progress as evidenced by their deficiency in learning gains as they progress through the grade levels.  Therefore, it's not uncommon for "A" rated schools like Del Prado to decline in school points earned if viable solutions are not in place for supporting struggling learners.

As stated, our commitment to professional learning practices became instrumental for Del Prado in closing the instructional and achievement gaps for our teachers and struggling learners, thereby increasing our overall school points earned. The following breakdown of our school grades report over the past three years shows the overall upward trend.  A modest decline in ELA achievement can be attributed to Del Prado being selected as one of 5 pilot schools to learn and implement a new literacy curriculum in grades K-3 (CKLA) in Palm Beach County as the 11th largest school district in the nation.  We are proud of our overall steady increase and attribute that success to our commitment to the work that embodies our professional learning community. 

 

Year 

ELA % Level 3

Math % at Level 3

Science % at Level 3

% Making Learning Gains in ELA

% Making Learning Gains in Math

% of L25 Making Learning Gains in ELA

% of L25 Making Learning Gains in Math

Sum Points Earned

State Reported School Grade

FY16

 82

84

78

57

63

54

45

463

A

FY17 

 85

86

73

68

61

64

54

491

A

FY18

 86

84

80

73

71

64

59

518

A

 

Florida "Five Star School Award" - 2013-2019

Each year the Florida Department of Education awards schools that have gone above and beyond in with incorporating community members and family into the school environment to increase student learning.  To be recognized for this achievement, schools each year must achieve the benchmarks and criteria in these five areas:  Community/Business Partnerships, Family Involvement, Volunteerism, Student Community Service and School Advisory Council. Schools must also earn a grade of “C” or above or a school improvement rating of “Maintaining” or “Commendable” for the year being recognized.

 

Top