Sunset Elementary School

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

Sunset Elementary School’s PLC Story 

In 2010, Sunset School was one year away from being taken over by the state of Arizona.  Sunset School had not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2007, 2008, or 2009.  It was also labeled an Underperforming School. The Cartwright School District had adopted the PLC philosophy, but Sunset Elementary School had yet to of implemented this new learning and that which had attempted to be put in place was far from institutionalized.

Kristi Langley - Wells was appointed as principal at Sunset School in 2009.  Her primary goal was to raise student achievement.  The staff began their journey of raising their expectations for student achievement as they began their PLC journey.  The teachers and administrators met prior to the start of the school year for Sunset’s first annual retreat.  During this retreat, student data was analyzed, grade level SMART goals were established, and discussions/trainings took place on best instructional practices.  The staff built a common vision, mission, and Collective Commitments.  At the conclusion of the 2009 – 2010 school year, Sunset School made AYP and was labeled a Performing Plus School by the Arizona Department of Education.

During the 2010 - 2011 school year, the Arizona Department of Education began its new A through F labeling system.  During that year, Sunset School earned a B label.  Sunset School has earned an A label since the 2011 – 2012 school year.  The students consistently score above the Cartwright District average as well as the state average in grades 3, 4, and 5 in Math, ELA, Science, and Writing. 

Before the school year begins, the staff meets for two days to recommit to our vision, mission, and collective commitments. We analyze data and determine the needs of our upcoming students.  Staff development is determined based on the data – what teaching skills will improve student achievement?  Throughout our PLC journey, teachers have ingrained and implemented the 4 critical questions into their teaching routines.  Prior to each quarter, individual grade levels meet for six hours (3 hours for math and 3 hours for language arts) to deconstruct the state standards. Benchmark tests are developed, teaching strategies are discussed, data is analyzed, and timelines are planned. During the quarter, if students are not progressing adequately, grade levels implement intervention groups based on specific learning targets.  The teachers with the highest student test scores and the most experience teaching that skill, work with the students with the greatest need. Students who have reached mastery are challenged to work on the same skill but at a more advanced level.  The entire grade level team jointly develops the plans for ALL of the intervention groups. 

We continue to strive to improve teaching and learning at Sunset School. We realize this is an ongoing process. Teams meet weekly to focus on the 4 PLC questions.  By embracing a collaborative culture, focusing on learning, and focusing on results, we at Sunset School have built a process of continuous improvement which always put student achievement as our number one priority.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Cartwright School District Provides its teachers with a quarterly curriculum map based upon Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards. During each grade level’s Quarterly 3 Hour Planning Time (3 hours for math and 3 hours for language arts) the teachers determine a sequence and weekly timeline for teaching these standards. This schedule is then used to focus the planning during our weekly Collaborative Team Meetings.  This helps ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all of our students on every grade level.

 At Sunset School, student learning is monitored by both formative and summative assessments. During First Best Instruction, classroom teachers check for understanding throughout the lessons and then administer weekly grade level benchmark assessments (common formative assessments).  This allows the classroom teachers the opportunity to provide Tier 1 intervention.  After the grade level analyzes the weekly benchmark assessment, Tier 2 grade level intervention will be determined. 

Quarterly Galileo benchmark assessments are given in grades 1 through 5.  This test data is analyzed and acted upon during Grade Level Collaborative Team Meetings.  Students who have not attained the necessary skills are grouped based upon their needs for Tier 2 instruction.  Students who have fully attained the grade level skills on the benchmark are placed in groups to learn what that standard looks like at the next grade level.  During Tier 3 instruction, students are never pulled out of first best instruction to be given extra learning support (this includes special education instruction, as well). 

 The Curriculum-Based Assessment of Skills (CBAS) is given 3 times each year (beginning, middle, and end of the year) to students in grades 1 – 5.  During staff development time, teachers analyze this data and plan for instruction. 

 AIMSWeb reading assessment is given to students in kindergarten through grade 5. Teachers progress monitor their students (weekly for intensive students, bimonthly for strategic students, and monthly for benchmark students).  AIMSWeb is also given to students in kindergarten through grade 5 three times a year by the school testing team (beginning, middle, and end of the year).  The AIMSWeb data is analyzed by the grade level during their Weekly Collaborative Team Time.

 The summative assessment for students in grades 3 through 5 is the AzMerit state assessment.  Students are tested in math, language arts, and writing.  Fourth grade students are also tested in science.  Teachers analyze this testing data during the summer staff retreat.  Teachers analyze their students’ data from the previous school year to determine where there are gaps in student instruction so that they can plan how to improve instruction in the upcoming years.  Teachers also look at the data of the students they will be receiving in the upcoming school year, so they can prepare to meet the needs of these students.

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

At Sunset, we recognize the importance of ‘Just-in-time’ intervention.  We have built in common intervention periods four days a week for all grade levels.  During this time, school support personnel “push in” to the classrooms to provide additional instructors and create smaller learning groups.  Benchmark data is recorded in prior to our weekly Collaborative Team Time.  This benchmark data is analyzed to determined groups.  In some instances, students are assessed on upcoming skills so prerequisite can be front-loaded.  The teachers determine the length of time students will participate in intervention before repeating the benchmark test, the specific skills to be focused on in each group, the materials to be used for instruction, and which teacher will work with each group of students.  Students who have mastered the standard are challenged to meet the standard in the next grade level of apply the skill in more advanced problems. 

 We also provide before and after school intervention groups for additional help for struggling students.  However, students are never removed from their classroom for remediation during first best instruction.  This is true for our special education students, as well.

 When not supporting grade level intervention times, our support staff is providing additional small group instruction (Tier 3 intervention) based on helping students meet benchmark goals.

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

At Sunset, our staff is highly committed to ensuring our students have options. Teachers serve as grade level/team chairs. They are responsible for weekly grade level Collaborative Team Time and weekly Intervention Meetings.  New teachers are supported and mentored by their grade level team.  Teams have a, “We’re all in this together” attitude.  Grade level chairs help facilitate at staff development meetings. They meet together weekly (as the Leadership Team) with the school administrators to discuss concerns across grade levels, as well as first best instruction.  Grade level chairs participate in quarterly book studies with the Leadership Team. 

 Teachers are placed in grade levels strategically, based on their strengths and needs of the grade level.  The goal is to ensure high performing teams on every grade level to meet the needs of all students.

 All Sunset teachers participate in yearly book studies focused on improving instruction. Teachers set personal goals and are given time to implement new learning. Administrative walk throughs are used to recognize these achievements. 

 Schedules are made to ensure weekly Common Collaorative Planning Time for each grade level.  Teachers are also provided with half-day substitute twice each quarter to plan for upcoming ELA and Math instruction.  The Collaborative Team Planning times are focused on determining common vocabulary and stepping stones to reach mastery of the standards. Teachers use state indicators to determine what mastery looks like.

 PLC is ingrained in all we do at Sunset School. It is a part of our school culture and a point of pride for us.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The Sunset Staff (Administrative, Certified, & Classified) have repeatedly scored at 90% of higher on District Parent, Student and Staff Surveys.

Sunset has repeatedly been recognized for having the Lowest Staff Turn-over Rate in the Cartwright School District.

Sunset students have over the past 7 years scored at or above the State of Arizona Average on state assessments.

Sunset has repeatedly been in the top two schools for Reclassification Rate in the area of English Language Learners - as noted by AzELLA Scores.

Sunset has consistently been at the top for Special Education achievement based on State and District Assessments.   

7 Straight Years of A Rating by the Arizona Department of Education (2011 – 2018) *

• 2018 Featured School in the A For Arizona State Newsletter.

• 2018 – 2010  Sunset School in top 10% of schools for Arizona Letter Grade Points.  Sunset's AzMerit Scores ranked 3rd out all schools in the state of Arizona.

• 2018 Cartwright School District used Sunset School’s 3 Hour Planning Process to provide districtwide support.

• 2018 National Board-Certified Teacher

• 2018 Statewide Rodel Principal of the Year 

• 2018 Early Literacy Grant Recipient

• 2018 and 2016 Cartwright District Lowest Teacher Turnover Award 

• 2018 MATHLEAGUE.ORG   DIVISION 5   First Place Sweepstakes Team

• 2017 MATHLEAGUE.ORG   DIVISION 5   Third Place Sweepstakes Team

• 2017  Featured School in State A For Arizona Tours of Successful Schools


• 2017 Cartwright School Psychologist of the Year Award

• 2017 Sunset School received “Results-based funding.”  This is a 3-year monetary award given to schools who score in the top 10 percent of all Arizona schools on the AzMerit State Assessment.

• 2017 Governor Ducey visited Sunset School because of their high state test scores

• 2016  Math Championships, Valley Championships Elementary Schools    2nd Place

• 2013 - 2017 USDA Healthier US School GOLD Level with a signed letter from First Lady Michelle Obama

• 2017 Technology in the Arts Grant

• Donors Choose Grants (numerous teacher recipients)

• 2013, 2015 - 2019 Energy Star Certified Buildings  

• 2012 - 2016 Arizona Department of Education Prestigious Title I Reward Label: “Highly Performing School”

• Numerous Superintendent’s Award of Excellence (All Staff, Students, & Parents)

 * 2018 – 2019 Official Scores and Ratings not yet released.