Carter Lomax Middle School

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

Our PLC story began during the summer of 2013 with a group of dedicated team members that were intrigued by the PLC process. That August the process that intrigued us, was introduced to our staff with the theme, “Building School Culture Where Learning Thrives”. A foundation was built the first year with a focus on the goal or outcome of our campus becoming a PLC, developing elements of the PLC process, and implementing the three big ideas related to developing collaborative teams and common vocabulary across the campus. Throughout the first year we dedicated time during faculty meetings, staff development training and team meetings to dive deeper into the three big ideas and shifts in the fundamental purpose of our work. This was the start to our cultural shift.

Through the past eight years, we have continued our journey with our campus PLC and grown so much. Every step and every year, we have used the cycle to reflect, focus, plan, execute and repeat. We have tailored our plans to establish and improve all areas of our campus that are meaningful, relevant and engaging for all stakeholders. 

At Carter Lomax Middle School, it is our mission and commitment to learning for all that drives our culture of continuous improvement. We are successful by utilizing the self-directed learning cycle we teach and use with our students. Our collaborative teams (campus team, content teams and departments), begin by diving into the data to celebrate our wins and focus on our areas to grow. With our wins or areas to grow, we set a SMART goal. Our “win” focuses on the extension and enrichment of the student’s learning and our “grow” focuses on closing the gap. From our SMART goal, we then develop a plan to achieve this goal. This plan may include collaborating with other campuses, researching an instructional strategy to present at a professional development session for the staff or bringing in a district coach for assistance. While implementing the plan we document our steps to show evidence of what we have learned as we monitor each student’s learning.  Finally, we take time to look at the next set of data and reflect on our process. Our learning cycle can be as big as using state testing data or as small as a content project. We all, including students, use the cycle to grow our habits of success which keeps our collaborative teams focused on learning for all.

To ensure time for this process, our master schedule was crafted so content and grade-level teams have daily-embedded time to collaborate. With norms established in the meetings and every team member having a role to play, the time is intentional and focused on student learning. The master schedule also includes enrichment time (Reads/Solves class periods), to provide time for the teacher and student to further work on “win” or “grow” activities.  The extra class period plus morning office hours, gives our students the ability to strengthen their self-directed learning cycle by creating, implementing and reflecting on their SMART goals.  

With our staff and students working together through a focused cycle of growing and learning, our mission and vision for the campus is in our reach for success. Because of our firm belief and commitment to the PLC process we were able to seamlessly adapt to the new learning format that our campus was forced to adopt due to the pandemic. Throughout it all, our success is evident through the distinctions Carter Lomax Middle School has acquired.  TEA has recognized our work for the past four years with Carter Lomax Middle School receiving 5 of the 6 star distinctions.  We are one of only two campuses in the nation to receive the RISE Award from Summit Learning for our leadership and exemplary execution of Personalized Learning.  The PLC Process and collective inquiry into best practices, focus on student learning, and consistent work through campus collaborative teams has provided the pathway to continued success at Carter Lomax Middle School.  

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Carter Lomax uses a self-directed, personalized learning platform for every student. Our curriculum is divided into two parts: Focus Areas which are basic foundational skills that the students work through at their own pace and Projects/Concept Units where students apply those basic skills to real-world scenarios and improve cognitive skills. Carter Lomax teachers consistently write and vet the curriculum which is housed in the Summit Learning Platform every year. 

Throughout the year, our teachers meet in Department Collaborative Teams, at a minimum of once a week. While meeting, Administrators, Instructional Coaches, and teachers use our Project and Concept Unit Internalization Guides to plan. The collaborative team begins by looking at the final product or assessment for the entire Project or Concept Unit. Then the collaborative team looks at the rubric. The next step is to look at what the students need to learn from the Project or Concept Unit, and then figure out day-by-day what research-based strategies and activities need to be used to get the students to a level of mastery for the Final Product or assessment. We discuss misconceptions, prior skills or focus areas needed, and possible workshops that may need to take place and document everything in the department minutes.

Personalized Learning provides our educators with quality data on a daily basis. This empowers teachers to monitor student learning in real-time and adjust to a wide range of student needs each class period. Analyzing data is at the center of our collaborative teams. Teachers in department collaborative teams use Summit Learning platform data to make decisions about planning at every meeting. They identify common grade-level themes within the data and plan partial-group instruction to address those themes and document in their agendas and minutes. Data can easily be broken down within a topic by objective, which allows teachers to identify gaps and make specific plans to address them. Department collaborative teams assign tasks to each individual that addresses a component of the four critical questions and trust and collaborate with one another around solutions to those questions. They also identify areas to celebrate and reflect on the strategies that led to success. 

Grade level teams (GLT) use Summit Learning platform data to monitor student learning as well. They look for trends in their team data and discuss strategies to support student learning. They talk about schedules and ensure that students have access to the teachers they need most during enrichment time. They also use the data to identify missing habits of success and discuss how to facilitate the habit’s growth during teacher/student mentoring. Data and these discussions are tracked in grade level team agendas and minutes. 

Instructional coaches use the same data in their collaborative teams to identify areas to direct teacher growth. When administrators or instructional coaches walk classrooms they meet to monitor and analyze data to frame their expectations for the various classes they visit. After walking classes, administrators and instructional coaches debrief and reflect on what was observed with regards to teacher actions in response to the Summit Learning platform data. In all collaborative teams, the data that is used to monitor student learning is the guiding factor in discussions and decision-making.  

During the pandemic, our collaborative teams met virtually to make adjustments to the curriculum to deliver instruction in a virtual format. All of our curriculum was still taught and covered. Students were still able to complete their work on the platform. Teachers were able to meet virtually in collaborative teams and GLTs to analyze data and identify next steps based on the four critical questions.

 

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

At Carter Lomax, the holistic needs of all of our students come first. For the last year the pandemic has added challenges that have called on our strategies to evolve. There are several systems in place to ensure that the mental health and academic needs of our students are met. Our campus has a well rounded Response to Intervention (RTI) committee that allows advocating for students in a manner that puts their best interest at the forefront of all discussions. We use data to support tiered interventions for our students based on last year’s academic performance. At Carter Lomax, we customize schedules to ensure that intervention needs can be met during the school day with minimal impact on current curriculum being taught.  

Another system in place is our social emotional lessons being delivered every week to all students. These lessons help provide strategies to support a healthy school culture and climate. Our lessons are delivered to empower students with individual needs like character traits, habits of success, and Conscious Discipline strategies. Counselors also regularly meet with higher needs students that are referred by way of campus staff to provide more custom supports as needed.

As stated above, Carter Lomax strives to meet the needs of all students, which includes those who need an opportunity for extension as well as intervention. We have several opportunities for all students to grow based on their needs. Although some students participate via Google Meets, we are still offering before and after school opportunities for tutoring and enrichment for all students. We currently deliver all of our academic instruction through the self directed learning platform which has a built in curriculum that supports all student needs. Some students may need a different approach and their teachers along with instructional coaches have workshops with them to support their individual needs.

At Carter Lomax, we meet weekly as an administrative team to ensure our teachers and staff have the proper tools to help students reach their full potential. We have taken the concept of growth mindset and truly applied it across all areas of our campus. This has allowed for great growth not only for our students, but for our staff as well. Our campus was recognized for our holistic approach by being awarded the State of Texas, Counselors Reinforcing Excellence in Texas (CREST) award for the 2019-2020 school year, celebrating our commitment to the whole student.

 

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

The steps we have taken to build the capacity of our teachers started with the training of our instructional coaches with the book from Solution Tree called Amplifying the Impact of Coaching in PLCs.  The instructional coaches started by modeling the PLC process necessary to develop the mindset needed to become effective collaborative teams. As the year began, team members were given ownership by allowing them to identify their purpose as a member of the collaborative team and work together to script their mission statement that reflects the voice of all collaborative team stakeholders. To continue our commitment to construct an effective collaborative team our principal had our executive director of curriculum come to the campus to train our department leaders in the importance and the positive impact that could be achieved through collaborative teams. The team leaders adopted norms that encourage collaboration and the process for effective collaborative teams is centered around the four critical questions. We then work with collaborative teams by building our strategy implementation guide or SIG.  The SIG is the foundation for keeping our goals clear and our practices aligned. From there, we identify the elements that will help us become more focused on specific strategies for working with students of different levels.

Throughout the pandemic our collaborative teams were able to transition these strategies virtually which has impacted the success of our remote learners. Our goal is to have a deeper understanding of how to successfully implement all four critical questions throughout the team process to meet the needs of all learners. The Carter Lomax PLC and individual collaborative teams consistently have a growth mindset and reflect as a campus and within individual teams on how to continue to grow as teachers and leaders to provide the very best for the students at Carter Lomax.  

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The 2017-2018 school year was our first year to be a schoolwide personalized learning campus. We saw a 31% increase in our 5th reading special education (SPED) scores, and an 8% increase for 5th grade math SPED. There was a 10% and 11% increase, respectively, for 6th grade math and reading in SPED. There was a 17% increase in the 5th grade reading scores for our English language learners (EL) and a 12% increase in 5th grade science. There was a 39% increase for our ELs in 6th reading and 10% increase in 6th math. 

During our second year being schoolwide personalized learning, we were able to maintain our scores and continued to increase them in 6th reading for SPED and 6th math for ELs.

Along with our state testing data, our students take the NWEA MAP Test three times per year. This is a norm referenced test that we use to monitor growth. Every year that we have given the test to students, there has been growth from fall to winter and winter to spring. During the 2019-2020 school year, we were only able to give the fall and winter tests, but our Campus Mean RIT score showed growth. 

We did test students in fall of 2020, and about 50% of our students were still virtual at the time. There was a decrease in growth from winter 2020 to fall  2020, but it was expected with school closing in March of 2020, and our campus moving to remote learning. However, even with the decrease in the fall and several students learning from home, we showed growth from fall 2020 to winter 2021.

 

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