East Valley School District #90

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

Over the past 4 years we have dedicated our district to the success of all students by implementing highly effective PLC's.  In order to do this,we knew it would take a huge commitment, both from a time and financial perspective, but one that we knew would be worth the effort.  We started by sending a large group of our staff (about 60 members) to the PLC at Work Institute in Seattle during the summer of 2016.  We followed this up by having Solution Tree associates come to each building to kick off the school year that August.  We then followed that up again with a second session for each building in February of 2017.  From there, we added a layer by involving Janel Keating with our Teacher Leader Cadre from fall of 2017 to the present.  Janel has worked with this team 4 times a year to increase their PLC knowledge and support teams within their buildings in improving the process.  In addition, we have continued to send large groups of our staff to the PLC at Work Instititue in Seattle each summer.  Furthermore, we have weekly meetings with our building/district administrators that dedicates 1 hour each week to improving the PLC process.  This has helped us to build a strong foundation of knowledge, structures, and supports to ensure continuous growth within the PLC process and thus student growth and achievement.  We are excited about the results we are seeing and are eager to see this continue to grow and positively impact our students.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

We have built several systems that allow us to monitor student learning on a timely basis.  Each of our PLC teams is expected to bring evidence of student learning in the form of data and/or student work every Monday (set-aside collaboration time) from their common/formative assessments from the previous week.  They then complete our Teacher Analysis of Common Assessment (TACA) form to analyze these results, reflect on the effectivness of their practice, make adjustments accordingly, and plan specific interventions/enrichments for the students based on the results of that data.  In addition to this, we look at our district common benchmark and progress monitoring data both at the building and district level following the same TACA process.  This all ties into our School Improvement Plan goals.  Lastly, at the end of each year, we follow the same TACA process with our State testing data to plan for the following year in order to better meet the needs of our students.

 

Additional Information requested:

  1. How have teams worked to identify the essential learning outcomes in at least mathematics and English Language Arts? Specifically, can you provide any information and/or evidence that this work has been done at the middle and high school levels?

Our District designated time during the Spring on 2017 for all teams, grades K-12, in all content areas, to work collaboratively to clearly define their essential standards.  This included release time during the school day and additional hours outside of the school day, depending on the team.   I have attached examples at the middle and high school levels for ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies to supplement the K-5 examples previously provided. 

In addition, we have built common units around these essentials standards K-12 to ensure instruction, assessment and intervention is focused on these standards (examples attached) and providing a focused, guaranteed and viable curriculum for all of our students no matter what school or what classroom they are in.  Since the initial work in the Spring of 2017, teams are provided time periodically each year (2-4 days, depending on the team) to review and revise their essential standards and unit plan work based on our analysis of State, District, and Classroom level common assessments, in order to refine and improve on what we learn from the data. 

To ensure this work is resulting in improved student learning for all students, each team utilizes their Monday collaboration time to focus on the analysis of the weekly common formative assessments outlined in their unit plans and create corresponding action plans to address the needs of those students who have yet to demonstrate mastery.  Our goal is for 100% of all students, in all classrooms, to demonstrate mastery of the essential standards by the end of the year.  In order to do so, we must intentionally plan re-teach opportunities to build student skill, and then follow up with re-assessment opportunities so we can see evidence of the mastery in an independent setting.  This is a cyclical process for each group of essential standards that occurs as an ongoing process throughout the year. 

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

We have ensured that all of our students are provided extra time and support that is specific to their learning needs, based on the anaylysis of the various levels of data mentioned above. 

At our elementary schools, we have a 'core and more' approach where all students receive their core instruction for both math and ELA in their primary teacher's room, with all levels of learners represented within this group, with differentiation strategies utilized to give access to the content for all learners.  The 'more' part is then follows where students are grouped according to identified needs and provided instruction at their level to either address their learning deficits or extend their learning.

At our middle school, all students receive core as described above.  For the intervention/enrichment portion of the day, we provide 'tiered' classes for tier 2 and 3 learners, as well as learners needing enrichment, to address their specific needs identified in the assessment data.

At our high school, all students receive core as described above.  For the intervention/enrichment portion, 3 days a week we have a built in period that students are invited to based on their learning needs.

 

Additional information requested:

  1. Can you provide a bit more information about intervention at the elementary level?

As mentioned in the initial application, structures are in place to provide extra time and support for all students specific to their learning needs.  The shift in our culture has been made to reflect a focus that all students in the system are ‘ours’, meaning that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they are demonstrating high levels of learning.  This is exhibited in the schools at a couple of different levels. 

The first is within the classroom the student is assigned.  During the core instruction for all students, teachers differentiate in the tier 1 core instruction to ensure all students have access to the core.  This differentiated instruction is provided by our certificated teachers with the support of para educators.  We ensure that all students are receiving instruction in grade level content, but provide different levels of scaffolding and support to ensure access. 

The second layer is during the ‘more time’ which occurs within the classroom (not a pull out model), but students are grouped by need across the grade level team.  This is a ‘walk-to’ model, meaning the teachers within the grade level have students from each other’s homeroom.   We view this as their intervention (tier 2 and tier 3, depending on the level of the student) time as they will receive what they need, which may be below grade level, at grade level, or above grade level.  This intervention/enrichment time is provided by certificated teachers, with the support of para educators.  As mentioned, students are grouped by need as determined by common assessment data.  It is structured so staff with the highest levels of expertise and success (as determined by the data), are placed with the students demonstrating the highest need.   The higher the level of student need, the smaller the group size in order to give students the most individualized attention as possible. 

From here, data is frequently monitored to adjust groups as necessary to continue to meet the needs of all students and maximize student learning.  Our growth in this process over the last 3-4 years has been tremendous.  Staff is getting more and more specific in their data analysis, which drives revisions in their assessments in order to get the data they need to provide interventions as specific as possible.  This has continued to lead to improved results, in most areas, each year in our assessment data.

 

 2.  Please respond to the question regarding intervention at the middle school level?

As mentioned in the original application, the middle model is very similar to the elementary model, which we have found to be unique in a secondary setting.  What I mean by that is that every student receives instruction in their core class that is directly aligned to their essential standards and outlined in their unit plans.  Like the elementary, teachers provide differentiated instruction within the core to ensure all students have access to the core.  In addition to this differentiated instruction, each core classroom also has designated, set-aside intervention time to address specific student needs, which again, can be below grade level, at grade level, or above grade level.  This is primarily provided by the certificated classroom teacher, but we have also pushed in para support to those classrooms that have been identified as including the highest level of student need through our common formative assessment data.  

The tier 2 and 3 classes mentioned in the original application are for those students who have exhibited the highest needs as identified by various points of historical student data.   Students are ‘assigned’ to that ‘class’, but the groups within the class and the focus of those groups are fluid based on student need as identified by the weekly common formative assessment data.  We have supported this work by purchasing instructional materials that have a computerized, online component that creates personalized learning pathways specific to individual student need.  This tool is available in Reading and Math (K-8), and provides the opportunity for individuals to have meaningful, independent intervention instruction, while at the same time allowing the certificated classroom teacher and para educator can work with small groups or individuals who need the face to face support.  This blended learning model has assisted in us better meeting the needs of all students.   

I would say our strongest example of the growth of our staff in this process, as a result of our commitment to the PLC process, is the implementation of our co-teaching, blended funding model, classroom that began this year.  This classroom has special education and general education students that are assigned to the same core class, and corresponding support class, based on having very similar needs.  These classes follow the model described above, but is a departure from our previous traditional model of having Tier 3, non-special education students dispersed in various classrooms and special education students working in the classroom with the special education teacher.  By moving to this new model we are better able to ensure more rigorous core instruction and support focused on students mastering our essential standards for our highest need Tier 3 students.  

Furthermore, our middle school has implemented a school wide tracking model to track students in their progress towards mastering mathematics essential standards.  These tracking sheets are posted in each math classroom and students earn stars when they demonstrate mastery.  This allows individuals to see their progress and provides a visual reminder to all about who needs intervention, on what, and where they are at in their progression of learning as it relates to the essential standards.

 

3. Please respond to the question regarding intervention at the high school level? 

As described above, our core instruction, differentiated support, and intervention within the core is similar at the HS as to what is occurring at the elementary and middle school levels, as described in the previous responses.  As mentioned in the original application, though, the additional intervention time that is outside the core is different at the high school level.  The intervention period is running 3 days a week for 30-minutes each day.  This intervention time does include optional sections, but students identified through data as having a high need in a particular subject area, receive specific invites to specific interventions focused on their needs that they are required to attend. 

During the collaboration time each Monday morning at the HS, as teachers go through the TACA process to analyze their student data, part of the process includes identifying students who need additional support and planning how both the classroom time, and the intervention time, will be utilized to provide this support.  Students are identified by name, teachers determine who will be providing which support, and then invitations are sent through Google to specific students for those intervention sessions.  Roll is taken based on those interventions and school attendance procedures are followed for any students who do not attend.  ELA and Math are given priority for the invites.  Students who do not receive an invite, can instead attend one of the optional sections.  However, I do want to point out that our HS is an acknowledged area where we still see the largest room for growth in implementing highly effective PLCs.  The HS staff has been more reluctant to change from traditional practices and has been slower in the shift within their culture to better address student needs, although there have been some outstanding pockets of growth in certain areas.  We have identified various barriers within this and have created a targeted action plan with each our HS instructional leaders to ensure all teams continue to improve in order to better reflect our expectations of all teams.  I have included the templates we are using to create the action plans that focus the instructional leaders on the specific needs of the teams.  In addition, we have implemented ST Associate, Maria Nielsen’s 15-day challenge process to assist in simplifying the process and ensuring each team can get small wins within the PLC process.  We believe this will assist us in getting momentum with our HS teams by gaining positive reinforcement for successfully engaging in the work.  Our preliminary results have been very positive in the first 2 months of the year.

 

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

As described in our PLC story, we have utilized various levels of support to support building high performing, collaborative teams to improve student learning.  These strategies include;

1) Outlining very clear expectations and 'look-fors' aligned to each of the 4 DuFour questions

2) Providing ongoing, high levels of professional development including the PLC at Work conference, Solution Tree Associates, and district teacher leaders to support improvement within this work.

3)  We have created buy-in with key teacher leaders by continuing to focus on this work over a long period of time and supporting them in becoming 'experts' in this work.  This has provided us with model teams to highlight and utilize to continue to grow other teams.

4)  We have focused on bulding the capacity of our principals as instructional leaders in the PLC process by dedicating weekly time to support their growth in giving them the knowledge, tools, and strategies to work with their building teams in improving.

5)  We have stayed the course.  This is hard work that takes time in order to be successful.  We have not brought in initiative after initiative, but have continued to concertrate our efforts on building high performing, collaborative teams.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

We do not have State level/accountability data for PreK-2, certain subject areas, or at certain HS grade levels, so that is not included.  I am able to provide district level data if necessary, just let me know.  As can be seen by the attached accountability data, in almost every area, at every grade level, over the included 5 year span, we have made significant growth in the amount of students reaching proficiency or beyond.

Additional information requested:

  1. Did the District receive any updated data from the 2018-19 school year? If so, please share the most current information about student progress. Also, can you comment on 3rd, 7th, and 10th grade and offer any insights regarding the performance of sub groups? If  gaps exist between subgroups, what is the plan for closing those gaps. 

Our District has since received our 18-19 Science data, which I have added to the original student data achievement sheet and re-attached to this email.  In addition, I included data from the Office of Superintendent of Instruction in the State of Washington that breaks down trend data at each of our schools and for the overall district, by subgroups.   As can be seen, most data points show a general upward trend demonstrating improvement.  However, there are areas where the trend is either inconsistent or is not moving upward.  We utilize this data to examine our programs and systems of support, and have created action plans to better address the needs of students who are not demonstrating high levels of learning in the growth and achievement data.  These inconsistencies are exactly why we have invested heavily in the PLC process, both from a financial perspective and from a human resource perspective.  We believe that being great in the collaborative process will ensure consistent growth and achievement for all of our students in all of our classrooms, not just in certain pockets.  If additional data is need that goes beyond this, I can certainly provide that, just let me know what specifically you would like to see. 

As you pointed out, 3rd, 7th and 10th grades are 3 of the areas we are focused on improving.  As we have analyzed data and examined the trends, we believe there are several reasons for some of the inconsistencies.  These issues include where the teams are at the implementation of the PLC process, as well as other outside factors.  These 3 grade levels in particular are grade levels that have some strong teachers, but are not yet strong in the PLC process, so the team as a whole is not as strong as they could be.  

In response to these teams, and teams like this, we have worked with our administrators, as the primary instructional leaders in each building, to identify the team(s) within their building that has the highest need of support, create an action plan, and join that team as a regular member to provide leadership and support to ensure a more productive, high quality, collaborative environment.  I have attached the resources we are utilizing for that.  We are excited about the initial progress we have seen from these teams over the first couple of months of the 19-20 school year. 

Another primary issue in the 3rd and 7th grade teams in particular, is staff turnover.  Our 3rd grade team has welcomed 7 new staff members of the 12 total 3rd grade teachers across the district in the last 2 years.  This has led to opportunities for growth in both the content knowledge of these individuals and the trust and respect necessary for a highly effective collaborative process.  The 7th grade team is similar in that 3 of the 8 staff members are new within the last 2 years, with the 17-18 school year also having 2 of those staff members out for significant amounts of time on maternity leave.  Since that year, though, 7th grade has made tremendous growth in the 18-19 school year, which we expect to continue based on what we have seen in common formative data to start 19-20. 

The 10th grade team is a bit of a different scenario.  As I mentioned previously, the HS staff has been more reluctant and moved at a slower pace in changing their practices and shifting their culture, which has caused the growth rate in student achievement to not be where we would like it to be.  In addition, at the HS level we are seeing huge gaps in learning around pre-requisite skills necessary for success at the HS level.  This is due to our previous system not adequately addressing the essential standards at earlier grade levels and ensuring mastery prior to moving on to the next grade level, which is why we have committed to improving the PLC process.  We believe that we have grown tremendously in this area, both in the lower grade levels and at the HS level, which will lead to an increasing rate of students demonstrating mastery on the State assessments.  By having better systems in place earlier, students will have less learning gaps and be more prepared for the higher level content.  This, in conjunction with an improved and more focused intervention system at the HS, will lead to higher levels of success in 10th grade.

Lastly, regarding sub group performance, the SBA analysis charts that I have included show a breakdown of that data.  As is the case with our ‘all students’ group, most data points show a general upward trend, with some inconsistencies within that.  In addition, some subgroups that are smaller in size jump all over the place due to the fact one or two students can greatly change the percentage.  As is described above, as we do with our ‘all students’ group, we analyze this data regularly and create action plans to address the needs identified in these areas.  Specifically, one area that caught our attention the last couple of years is our ELL student subgroup.  As you can see, the gap has grown in this area.  As we looked at this deeper, though, although our achievement rate in the SBA of these students has not trended upward, our ELL progress rate on the ELPA 21 has been strong.  This has led to the conversation about our ELL students entering our system with lower and lower language skills.  Because of this, we have strengthened our PreK work and added a kindergarten early entrance classroom (5 months of additional Kindergarten instruction – prior to starting their ‘regular’ Kindergarten year) for our students with the highest needs based on our Kindergarten screener.  In addition, we have expanded our training and support of teachers to implement Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) strategies in the classroom to provide more robust support all day, every day for these students.  Other examples of addressing sub group performance gaps are the co-teaching, blended funding model, classroom at our MS I explained above, the implementation of Tier 2 and 3 support classes at the MS, and the adoption of the 95% group phonics intervention program at our elementary schools.  Each year, through data analysis, we adjust and/or add various levels of support to better address the needs of students identified within our data of not making the growth and achievement we would expect to see.

 

 2.  See request for additional information in #6 above.

I believe that my response to question #5 addresses most of topics requested in question #6 as well.  However, the addition to this would be with regards to our 10th grade math scores.  We believe there are several factors at play as to why these scores are below the state average.  The first is what I have discussed above regarding the HS staff.  The reluctance to change their practice and shift their beliefs is very evident within our HS math department for most individuals.  To address this, our HS principal has chosen the math department, particularly the Algebra I and Geometry teams, as her focus teams.  Because these teams did not have a strong leader within, and was not consistently following our expectations of the PLC process, she has taken on the leadership role within that team on a weekly basis and created an action plan to address their deficiencies.  This action plan includes a strong unit plan designed around the essential standards, common weekly formative assessments that drive their Monday collaborative discussions, creating a targeted action plan to address specific student needs identified in the data, and then sending specific invites to intervention time to these identified students requiring them to attend the interventions to ensure mastery.  In addition, these teams are working with a math specialist to expand the types of instructional strategies utilized in the classroom to ensure high levels of learning by all.  Furthermore, as I previously mentioned, to ensure this team was able to find small successes in this process to reinforce the expected behavior, we utilized Solution Tree’s Maria Nielsen’s 15-day challenge to help simplify the process and make it more manageable for this team.  We found that this team, along with most of the HS teams, were overwhelmed in trying to implement the PLC expectations with multiple preps, for multiple ‘teams’.  As we have reviewed the results of the first 15-day challenge for the two math teams, we are very encouraged by the student growth and achievement results.  This was very rewarding for the staff as well, who have all chosen to continue to break the process into smaller, 15-day challenges over the remainder of the school year. 

Another factor we believe has impacted the HS math scores is, as described above, the fact that really this is where ‘the rubber meets the road’ in terms of learning gaps.  Because our previous system, prior to implementing effective PLC’s, was not effective in adequately addressing ALL students’ learning needs, HS students have major gaps in their learning which greatly impacts their ability to be successful in 10th grade core content.  We believe that as our system continues to grow in effectively meeting students learning needs at our lower levels, students will be more prepared with less gaps and higher levels of required pre-requisite skills in order to improve their chances of being successful in the HS core content.

We have had our schools recognized by the State for several awards.  These include;

Moxee Elementary - Washington Achievement Award Winner and School of Distinction (7 times in 6 years)

East Valley Elementary - School of Distinction (2016, 2017, 2018)

East Valley Central Middle School - School of Distinction (2016, 2017, 2018)

East Valley High School - Highest Graduation Rate in ESD 105 (2017) - remaining in the top 3 for multiple years

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