Central Valley High School
- Number of Students: 610
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 68.5%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1.6%
- Percent of Special Education: 14.4%
- White: 68%
- Black: 2.3%
- Hispanic: 15.7%
- Asian: 2%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.5%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 9.2%
- Multiracial: 2.1%
- Other: 0.2%
PLC stopped being a place or a meeting, but a culture. Central Valley High School’s PLC journey began in 2011, with the shift from traditional department heads to PLC leads and learning communities. The district committed funds to train instructional coaches and leaders on campus, and as a leadership team we began the pedagogical shift from “staff meeting Mondays” to collaborative time focused around student learning. Over time, multiple members of the staff completed training to better understand research-based methodologies in curriculum design, assessment, data analysis, and intervention. These best practices were then supported throughout the year by mini-trainings followed by work time and accountability, thereby building the capacity of the staff and establishing the necessary shared understanding.
One of the challenges we faced as a smaller school was how to build meaningful teams. We tried different configurations --department, grade level, STEM/Humanities. We encountered and overcame numerous hurdles during this time. Without common assessments, it was difficult to make collaborative goals. We would analyze available district data, but because California does not assess until 11th grade, it felt more like an autopsy. Various steps were taken to improve progress. In 2016 the district invested in NWEA to measure all grade levels’ growth and proficiency in reading and math. Individual teachers were now able to pull rosters of their own students to see the impact their instruction had, thereby increasing buy-in and accountability. Additionally, we administered a schoolwide writing benchmark to grades 9-12, then trained the entire staff to score writing samples with a rubric. We compiled and analyzed this data in grade-level teams. The end result was a common language regarding literacy skills, clarified understanding of proficiency and defined vertical alignment needs.
The CVHS PLC process truly took flight in 2016. Administration and staff made a commitment to the production of our guaranteed viable curriculum, the Central Valley Guarantees or CVGs, which are published for all of our stakeholders and constantly utilized and revised. This helped to solidify our laser-like focus on the learning targets and levels of thinking we expect students to demonstrate, and how to best measure student proficiency. With these in place, we were able to implement our Tier 2 intervention model, Achieve. Every other week students have a special schedule in which an intervention hour is built in. Achieve allows time for pre-teaching, reinforcement, and extension of expected learning targets. Struggling and advanced students alike have extra time with teachers to process and apply new concepts and accomplish more rigorous coursework
Data reveals a marked improvement in student achievement with the implementation of the PLC process. State CAASPP scores have increased substantially in the last four years; our A-G completion rate for seniors has increased while the number of Ds and Fs across grade levels have decreased dramatically; NWEA cohort data shows upwards of 30% gain from the number projected to meet or exceed proficiency when they finish their freshman year and when they complete the CAASPP test their junior year.
The staff at Central Valley has always demonstrated the ability to build positive relationships with our students; committing time and resources to create a structure that allows us to individualize instruction for students in a timely, personalized way solidified the shared commitment to our informal PLC motto, “Never Surrender”.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Describe the process that your school uses to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum. (Recommended word count is 150–500.)
The task analysis documents performed by every teacher and subject areas, Central Valley Guarantees, were developed over an entire school year through intensive work on behalf of the teachers. Release time was provided and instructional coach support was available.
CVGs are based on Richard Stiggin’s KRSP model in which each learning goal is deconstructed into specific, scaffolded targets based on levels of learning-- knowledge, reasoning, performance/ skills, and products. Teachers also identify key academic and concept vocabulary to target with direct instruction. Engaging in this process has increased the rigor of our courses, solidified common commitments within and across departments, and has improved our vertical alignment agreements.
Using these CVGs, teachers are better able to design formative and common assessments to check for understanding and identify effective instructional practices around common points of confusion. This data drives our tiered interventions and provides specific examples of student mastery. We are also using them to design proficiency rubrics and as a basis for evaluating how well our grade books and grading practices are in line with what it is we are asking students to know.
Many teachers have started to use them as a metacognitive piece with students, helping students take ownership of their progress towards mastery. This has proven to support student learning and engagement.
These working documents are fluid so that each learning goal can be altered if or when the need arises. CVGs are regularly updated and published on the school website for parents/guardians to see so that all stakeholders are clear on what each student must know when they enter a specific class.
Describe the strategies your school uses to monitor student learning on a timely basis. (Recommended word count is 150–500.)
Teachers at CVHS use numerous strategies that both increase engagement and monitor student learning. Since this has been a site area of focus, we’ve completed a number of mini-workshops on effective ways to check for understanding. As a 1-1 technology school, we have a number of digital assessment tools teacher frequently use such as Google Quizzes, Socrative, turnitin.com and Kahoot. Teachers also use other strategies such as exit tickets, whiteboards, and student perception surveys.
Much of our focus has centered on how to effectively design these formative assessments to better reveal levels of understanding or common points of confusion and what to do with the results. We are continuing to work towards better aligning our classwork, homework and formative checks with the level of mastery that is ultimately required of the students. We’ve also introduced strategies that help teachers use these checks to give students more effective feedback. Grading strategies for CFUs such as “Favorite No” and “Highlight Errors” reinforces the growth mindset and inspires student ownership. Teachers not only know what each student understands but is able to respond and reteach.
Our biweekly Achieve period is an opportunity to discuss these results and ways to intervene. Teachers decide whether a whole class reteach is required or if a session should be offered for a smaller group who need it. Departments discuss which instructional practices, activities or curricular pieces might be most effective.
In addition to regular monitoring of progress within the classroom, District and teaching staff utilize data from NWEA assessments which are administered in the fall, winter, and spring as a way to gauge both overall and strand growth in English and math. This helps us evaluate if as a system we are supporting growth in these core areas. It is also used as a basis for goal setting by staff and students alike. CAASPP data from our state eleventh-grade assessment is reviewed in the fall and we use the strand data to set site goals for student learning. In the spring, junior and sophomore teachers use IABs (Interim Assessment Blocks) and the resulting data to monitor progress and to review and reteach as needed prior to the CAASPP assessment.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
CVHS has successfully implemented systemic support at all three tiers of instruction.
Within the classroom teachers are constantly using methods of best practice to adjust instruction so that all students can reach mastery. Many teachers utilize our established academic tutor program. These juniors or seniors are enrolled in a course they’ve already completed to provide additional support to underclassmen. They attend regular training that includes effective questioning, tutorial sessions, learning styles, and resistant behaviors. Additionally, the district is funding after-school tutoring in math and English held by a credentialed teacher.
We are most proud of our Tier 2 program, Achieve.
Achieve Video: https://youtu.be/iSFmT2KpaMw
Our Achieve schedule requires that teachers consistently evaluate student progress towards mastery and intervene as needed. On alternating collaborative meetings, teachers use formative assessments, common assessments, and Aeries data to design targeted intervention sessions that support the current needs of students. Departments meet to determine which areas need to be addressed for each grade level and decide how to allocate open and closed sessions accordingly. Within departments, sessions can accommodate more than one grade level or course offering to better target specific levels of mastery. As the student selection process begins, the staff moves to grade level teams. This enables teachers to determine which intervention is most crucial for each student that particular week. Students who are not preselected by a teacher are able to self-select one of the open sessions the following day. By the end of the second day, every student is enrolled in either an open or closed session for that week that is specific to their learning needs. Because this is systemic and constantly changing, our entire staff is continuously engaged in increasing student learning.
This additional support has helped students be more successful in college preparatory and advanced course work. CVHS has partnered with Shasta College to offer numerous facilitated college courses on our campus. Students are enrolled in an online UC/CSU transferable college course, but meet daily with high school teacher within the same subject area. Our staff is able to work in concert with the college instructor to review assignments, front-load concepts and provide necessary support through the writing process. The past year and a half of implementation shows this to be a highly effective model for our demographic, and we’re now investing in this program more than AP sections when possible. Coupled with the additional support during Achieve, an average of 82% of students enrolled in a facilitated course earned college credit last term.
Tier 3 lab courses in math and English have helped close significant skill gaps for our incoming freshmen. Students enrolled in the course are more than two years below grade level as measured by NWEA scores, and are not receiving other support such as modified courses or study skills. Teachers of these courses are trained in intervention strategies and utilize a curriculum that identifies and targets skill deficits. Furthermore, after each administration of NWEA, individual strand data is loaded into Odysseyware which helps teachers identify and assign support specific to individual needs in a timely way. Students are involved in setting goals, and these regular assessments provide an opportunity to celebrate gains.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
All of our collaborative meetings center around student learning as determined by evidence. In order to establish common purpose and facilitate authentic moments for cross-curricular discussion, our department groups meet in shared space under our collaboratively composed norms. We are regularly looking at district data, student work, grades, discipline data or common assessments to gauge student achievement and the quality of our learning environments. Balancing direction, autonomy and support with evidence-based accountability has fostered an environment in which reflection and growth are valued.
Both departments and teachers regularly set goals for completion of products, implementation of strategies and desired student outcomes.
Individually, as part of our various mini-workshops regarding site targeted instructional practices, teachers complete self-reflection and set goals to be shared with administration and instructional coaches. This establishes a starting point as they work with Instructional Coaches throughout the year. After delving into fall NWEA and/or CAASPP strand data, teachers formulate individual action plans for increasing achievement by selecting literacy, math and/or listening speaking areas to emphasize and support within their courses. When students are reassessed in the winter, all teachers analyze NWEA quadrant growth data to gauge the improvement of both low-achieving and high-achieving students. This helps to cement two belief systems; we expect growth of all of our students and every teacher on campus has a role to play in this growth.
Department leads have all attended Solution Tree PLC Institute trainings and have self-selected others regarding Instructional Leadership such as RtI at Work, Common Assessment, Grading Practices as well as lesson study through our local office of education. By building their own capacity they are better equipped to facilitate conversations that will focus around student achievement and will look in depth at both student work and district data. Leads meet monthly with administration and instructional coaches to share department goals, progress, and to give input to future team needs. They are front-loaded with upcoming topics and training in order to determine how best to implement within their subject matter in a way that accomplishes department goals and utilizes expertise within their own group. High school leads have also worked with leads at the middle schools to improve 6-12 alignment and increase student achievement.
This year we formalized department goal setting by composing SMART goals for the 2019.20 school year. Department goals include working collaboratively to compose and refine Central Valley Guarantees, our guaranteed viable curriculum, or drafting more common assessments or proficiency scales as we delve deeper into the impact of grading practices on student motivation and achievement.
Teachers at CVHS regularly examine student work, identify points of confusion, evaluate assessment quality and develop effective instruction/curriculum as a way to continually improve and monitor student learning.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
A crucial step in fostering a culture of continuous improvement at CVHS centers around reinforcing teachers’ belief that the instructional decisions they make have a tremendous impact, no matter what our students’ backgrounds are and that we are collectively responsible for the success of each and every one of our students. With a 68.5% socioeconomically disadvantaged rate, our staff has to be “stronger than poverty” in order to overcome the achievement gap. In this regard, our campus has been very successful. Since the 2016-17 creation of Achieve (for implementation the 2017-18 school-year), A-G completion has had a 42% increase, the number of Ds and Fs has decreased significantly and CAASPP scores have increased 225% in Math and 18% in ELA within our socio-economically disadvantaged student subgroup. Our achievement gap has become virtually non-existent. Central Valley High School stands out as 1 of only 122 California high schools given the similar schools ranking of 10 out of 10 in 2018. This was especially rewarding as there were 10,229 California schools included. Only three years prior, when we'd yet to implement our Tier 2 program, we were ranked a 5, then improved to a 9 in 2017. This requires a steadfast commitment to the PLC process while empowering our teachers to seek constant improvement as we strive towards greater heights.
In 2018-19, we stayed above the 60% mark in students meeting and exceeding standards in English Language Arts. Although we experienced a slight drop in 11th grade achievement data compared to the previous year’s testing results, we were encouraged after analyzing the exceptional progress of this specific cohort group. We observed a 40% increase in students reaching proficiency from their last state assessment in the 8th grade. Additionally, the same set of students achieved a 23% increase in students scoring at the advanced level (from 4% to 27.91%). As we continue to focus on individual student gains, our efforts are not always evident between testing administrations but rather cohort groups. The aforementioned results reveal how much growth has occurred since their arrival at Central Valley High School. With this in mind, we embrace the challenge of improving our achievement level upon each testing administration regardless of obstacles such as the existing skill sets of incoming students.
Through authentic reflection as a teaching staff, we will be relentless in our support for student learning and expectations. We are committed to overall school alignment in grading practices which will clearly illustrate what we consider student proficiency and mastery of skills. Cross-curricular support will be intensified in an effort to provide all teachers with the resources and skills to ensure our students reach their potential. Articulating with our District’s middle schools will be a primary target of our teachers and instructional coaches to improve the foundational skills of incoming students. With this intensified focus we anticipate ongoing growth.
While our sample of students taking the ACT and SAT is not statistically robust, we have observed a correlation between student achievement on standardized assessments and SAT/ACT scores. Our scores in 2017-18 rose nearly 5% from 2016/17 (23.1% from 18.6%) which reflect the relative achievement levels of each testing administration. Our class of 2018, which jumped nearly 15% in our CAASPP annual assessment, experienced a similar gain as stated earlier. Due to the implementation of additional interventions and a cross-curricular focus, our students have received a concerted approach which aims to eliminate gaps in learning while promoting strong links between subject areas.
Alternating collaborative meetings are structured around analyzing data to improve instructional practice and alignment of learning goals. The Leadership Team--comprised of administration, Instructional Coaches and Department Leads-- plans ways to support these topics that are in line with district and site goals and are research-based best practices. Typically at the beginning of the year leadership identifies two or three areas to tackle and implement with fidelity. To make professional development meaningful and to increase buy-in, instructional leaders on campus continuously seek input from the teachers as to aspects of their practice within these areas they want to improve upon.
Over the last few years, these workshops have included topics such as deconstructing standards, communicating learning targets, designing assessments, scaffolding techniques, using exemplars, grading for mastery, and increasing motivation by building students’ self-efficacy. Instructional coaches lead mini-workshops, and then department teams meet to apply as appropriate for the needs of the department. Future workshop days focus around analyzing the impact of those endeavors, planning adjustments and celebrating successes. (See "Professional Learning" and "PLC In-house Website Snapshots" in evidence)
Additionally, teachers have opportunities to view these best practices in action. Observation rounds are designed around highlighted instructional practices; teachers who want to learn more about a technique are able to observe a colleague with notable strengths in that area. We are also working to build our CVision library in which we record teachers on campus and publish the videos to our website of resources.
CVision Sample: https://youtu.be/fvqXplY9Lus
The staff regularly celebrates teacher’s accomplishments with students and/or successful implementation of strategies with recognition at meetings and within the principal’s weekly newsletter to staff. Continually focusing on the positive impact of our focused work as revealed by data and evidence fosters a positive learning environment and a growth mindset for staff and students alike.
- California Distinguished School Award, 2019
- Awarded CCSA similar schools achievement ranking of "10", 2018
- Awarded CCSA similar schools achievement ranking of "9", 2017