Seneca High School
- Number of Students: 473
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 43%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1%
- Percent of Special Education: 14%
- White: 76%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 4%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 18%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 0%
At Seneca High School, the importance of continuous improvement is reflected in our vision statement, which is posted throughout our building and evident in our day-to-day processes:
At Seneca High School, our vision is
to promote student success through
high expectations and dedication
to continuous improvement.
High school faculty and staff members worked collaboratively to craft the statement, which reflects our shared values as a PLC community. Students at Seneca High School are not “let off the hook” when it comes to rigorous coursework, but these high expectations are also supported through an RTI process which the school has fully committed to systematically building and continuously improving.
The high school site shares a mission statement with the rest of the district, and by now it has become a mantra that should be familiar to all stakeholders: ”Every child, every day, whatever it takes!” Evidence of our mission statement can be found throughout the district: on our website, most stakeholder communications, classroom syllabus documents, T-shirts, and more. The district mission is constantly referenced during professional activities, and though phrased simply, it represents a serious and difficult challenge to our team.
Throughout our evolution as a PLC community, every change to the way we function has been made to serve the district mission and bring us closer to our building vision. The four PLC guiding questions provided a framework for these efforts. In our first year, teams worked to establish the groundwork for where we are today by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals at the team and building levels, creating and practicing meeting norms, and establishing essential standards in response to question #1. Work on action research began in earnest in year two, beginning with the collaborative creation of common assessments (question #2), and the process continues to be refined in our current work.
Our building was finally ready to tackle PLC question #3 in the following years, and we began to grow an RTI program of which we are now truly proud. Intervention processes were basic at first, but improvements were implemented gradually and steadily. As we became more practiced and confident in our systems for intervention, we finally began the work of replacing unstructured study halls with true enrichment experiences (question #4).
As a building, we are hitting our stride in this, our 6th year as a PLC. While the PLC culture is sustaining in individual buildings across our district, this year marks deliberate efforts to weave these cultures together through meaningful vertical alignment. Offerings for advanced placement and college-level courses have increased substantially, ensuring equitable access to challenging content to better prepare all of our students for a future outside the walls of high school. We continue to revise a successful RTI program that has served as a model for other districts, with a focus on extending enrichment opportunities to all students this year. Collaboration now extends to new community business partners, who regularly visit the school to share career insights and opportunities with all of our students through our RTI program.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
The process of identifying priority standards in each core subject team was, after establishing team norms, our first exposure to collaborative decision-making in collaborative teams. Though individual team members were always committed to following curriculum, there had not been an opportunity to discuss shared values through the prioritization of standards. Priority standards identified by collaborative teams, which are flexible and revisited annually, serve to focus the work done in response to other PLC guiding questions. As more core-area teams progress toward K-12 alignment of essential standards, further revision is anticipated.
In this, our 6th year as a PLC school, work continues toward vertical alignment of essential standards through all district grade levels. While priority standards have been identified for every course at every level, a full audit of their scope and rigor is now underway. This work continues to ensure priority standards are designated at each level to guarantee students don’t leave our building with gaps in their learning. Within SHS, those conversations have already taken place, but vertical meetings with core area teams from other buildings continues as we work to sustain our PLC process.
The Seneca R-7 district began the work of moving existing and revised curriculum to the BYOC (Build Your Own Curriculum) online platform three years ago, streamlining what had been documented in an assortment of formats. At SHS, collaborative teams have steadily cooperated to convert curriculum documents to this digital format. Most core subject and elective curriculum units have been uploaded to BYOC. This work is anticipated to continue beyond year six.
Prior to the implementation of PLC’s, assessments at SHS were developed, administered, and evaluated by isolated teachers. End-of-course exams, ACT, and ASVAB testing comprised the majority of the building’s “common assessments”, and while the data obtained from these benchmark assessments were analyzed, it was insufficient for the purpose of conducting action research. The task of creating common formative and summative assessments was challenging, but essential in getting our building to where we are now. High-quality professional development (including assessment and grading practices from the Marzano Institute and PLC training from Solution Tree) played an integral role in building our capacity to develop quality assessments and in broadening our collective understanding of what constitutes formative assessment.
Standards-referenced scoring has become the norm in our district’s elementary and intermediate schools, and our junior high school adopted the practice last year. At SHS, standards-referenced reporting is not yet mandatory, but an increasing number of teachers are converting assessments and rubrics to proficiency scales every year. As other buildings in the district converted to standards-referenced reporting on grade cards, SHS teams worked to reassess their culture of grading practices. Though SHS report cards still reflect letter grades derived from percentages, there are a number of teachers across departments who convert scores from standards-referenced proficiency scales to arrive at those grades. Even those who do not currently utilize standards-referenced proficiency scales understand the value of RTI and provide remediation opportunities for struggling students.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
At SHS, our systematic process for intervention and enrichment (RTI) has become a particular source of pride. Though much of the work described and evidenced here began with the PLC process, our district had been struggling for many years prior to implementing a meaningful program. A primary goal was always to provide extra help to students who needed it. In retrospect, the seeds for our mission (“Every child, every day, whatever it takes!”) had already been planted when we adopted the PLC model. In practice, none of these early efforts were successful.
The first district calendar adopted to accommodate PLC work allotted three hours at the end of each Friday for work by teams. Though we still managed to establish the foundations for an exemplary PLC program, the schedule was not ideal when teams began to transition to the serious task of using action research to improve instruction. The brief meeting block left little time for in-depth data analysis. Additionally, we discovered that team members were as worn-out by the end of the day on Friday as our students were!
Three years ago, the district introduced a calendar that built-in two full Mondays per month for the important work of collaborative teams. This calendar has resulted in more thoughtful planning of PLC activities and increased time set aside for collaborative work that improves student learning: data-driven dialogue leading to deliberate and effective interventions and enrichment. The RTI structures our teams were able to put in place are a direct result of a PLC process that finally equipped us with the tools to implement not only meaningful interventions but also a variety of enrichment opportunities that didn’t seem possible when this journey began.
Seneca High School's RTI program relies on flexible student placement into intervention and enrichment settings that are amended every two weeks. A shared RTI spreadsheet allows for fluid student scheduling and teacher communication to ensure that students are getting help when and where they most need it. Students not requiring or requesting intervention help can choose from a dynamic variety of co-curricular enrichment opportunities, taught by teachers according to their passions and skills. This allows students in our small rural district to engage with content and activities normally found only in much larger districts.
The story of our building’s flexible RTI program, including data that documents our success, has now been told by SHS team members to audiences at the 2019 MOPLC conference, area curriculum directors, our district's school board, and even with other schools in the state that hope to emulate our practices. Members of the collaborative team continue to present, host building tours, and offer professional development to share what has worked at SHS.
Despite our successes, we continue to investigate ways to enhance our RTI program. Recently, team representatives attended an RTI summit and returned with promising ideas to share with the rest of the staff. Look for continuous improvement in the SHS response to PLC guiding questions #2 and #3 in the future.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Seneca High School has been committed to and continuously improving upon our PLC process since year one. In that time, we have experienced quite a bit of staff turnover, including three different building principals in five years. The fact that we are here now, seeking Exemplary PLC status, speaks volumes about the shared leadership of our building. Every collaborative team is represented in regular leadership meetings, and every new SHS employee is properly inducted into our PLC process, beginning with the summer PLC institute experience before the school year begins.
Initial PLC implementation efforts at SHS followed a typical “top-down” leadership structure. Administrators introduced the rationale behind PLC’s and secured high-quality professional development for team members. Ownership of the PLC process transferred to all team members within the first year, however, and it has remained in the capable hands of the teams ever since. Every teacher at SHS has attended at least one full PLC institute, and many staff members have participated in a number of PLC-specific PD opportunities. Newly hired teachers receive a thorough orientation to PLC’s through summer institutes and staff-led training at the district level.
Team norms ensure that every team member’s voice is heard, and procedures are in place to deal with conflict, should it arise. Transparency is ensured when teams (including leadership teams) share agendas, meeting notes, data protocols, and assessment resources on the school’s shared Google drive. Meeting notes and data analysis protocol reports from collaborative teams are regularly reviewed by leadership and administrative teams. Agendas for upcoming PLC days are “roughed in” by administration and leadership teams prior to meeting dates. While the majority of the time allotted for PLC days is protected for action research, there are also frequent and regular opportunities for horizontal and vertical alignment and communication.
Members of the high school PLC leadership team take an active role in agenda planning and facilitating the “opening events” on PLC days. Some activities are designed to foster community building, while others build capacity among staff members as skilled practitioners of the PLC process.
Shared leadership extends beyond the PLC process in the building and district as well. In-house professional development, led by staff members, has been increasingly offered and utilized in past years. Teachers are encouraged to offer and attend PD sessions within their building, as well as across the district, to share skills and best practice “specialties”. Another source of professional development is available in the form of instructional coaching. Behavioral, literacy, and instructional coaches are at the ready to support SHS teachers in the form of a more personalized type of professional development. Traditional PD opportunities are, of course, still available to teachers at SHS, but the ability to “feed our professional needs” in-house has transformed what PD looks like in our building.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
State of MO
The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma. As a PLC site, our building typically graduates a higher percentage of students than the state average. The SHS graduation rate was lower than the state average in 2019 due to our on-campus learning center (alternative school) allowing five students to come back and complete graduation requirements this year. Graduating classes typically consist of around 100 students.
Prior to the adoption of the PLC model, SHS students taking the ACT regularly scored below state and national averages. Since incorporating “ACT Boot Camp” for juniors during RTI time (in exchange for a school-funded test), students completing the experience have exceeded both state and national composite averages for two years in a row.
Closing the Subgroup Achievement Gap on State Assessments:
Achievement Data for the Missouri Assessment Program has been in transition for several years. Over the past 7 years, the assessments and the standards being assessed have changed in Missouri. As standards changed, the results of the End-of-Course assessments were evaluated at the state level and, in some cases, the results were even thrown out. This has caused the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to issue a caution about using the data as a method of comparison from year to year.
The subgroup comparison data provided in the attached files shows the results of the MAP assessment for the past 2 years. The disaggregated data for 2017 was not reported from the State. We have included our subgroup data for each year compared to results for the State of Missouri. The State defines a subgroup as having 30 or more students who fall into that category. The subgroup data for Seneca High School lists only 2 years of data because of changes that occurred in the assessment program. As you can see from the data, there are gaps in the reports because of fluctuations in the number of students who were listed within a subgroup. The largest subgroup in our school is consistently our free and reduced lunch population (FRLP).
SHS subgroup data demonstrates that, in five of six available comparison sets, the gap between our FRLP student scores and overall average scores is significantly smaller than the state’s average performance gap. In 2018, SHS students in the FRLP subgroup scored higher than the state average for all students on two of the three end-of-course assessments administered. For the assessment data available, SHS students in the FRLP subgroup scored an average of 7.2 percentage points lower than the total school population, while FRLP subgroups across the state of Missouri averaged a 13.9 percent score deficit. Through initiatives like our enhanced RTI program, ACT “Boot Camp”, and expanded upper-level course offerings, SHS will continue working to close this subgroup performance gap as a collaborative team.
Improved Equity through AP Course Offerings:
Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, SHS pursued an initiative to increase the availability of rigorous AP-level courses to all students wishing to take them. This included relaxing prerequisite and teacher recommendation requirements to increase equity. While the first round of AP test score data showed mixed results, as expected, our small school was able to offer twice as many AP-level courses last year than it had in the previous year, and nearly five times as many AP exams were taken by SHS students.
Providing Extra Help When and Where it is Needed:
SHS collaborative teams began tracking the number of failing grades for students when targeted placements for extra help were introduced to our RTI program. Though comparison data to other districts is unavailable, a look at our early progress demonstrates the effectiveness of the program.
Faculty and Staff:
Presentation at Missouri Powerful Learning Conference: "RTI: Our Journey to Targeted Intervention and Meaningful Enrichment" - 2019
Facilitation of RTI training for another MO district - 2019
SWC/MSSU Dr. Al Cade Educational Service Award - 2018
Missouri Outstanding Agriculture Education Teacher - 2015
Secured $30,000 matching grant for technology - 2019
Board Memberships: Crowder College Board of Directors and Newton Co. Library Board of Directors
MO Sports Hall of Fame Inductee - 2016
Seneca District Teacher of Year- 2018 and 2019
Academic and Co-Curricular:
A+ Scholarship Graduates
Scholarships (Total Offerings for Graduating Seniors)
National Merit Finalists: 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
Science Fair: Missouri Southern
2017- 3rd Place Plant Division
2016-3rd Place Technology-Science Division
2016- 3rd Place Plant Division
Crowder College Engineering Day
2019- 2nd Place Ping Pong Ball Launch
2019- 1st Place Simple Machine
2019- 1st Place Team Math Challenge Results
2019- 3rd Place Tennis Ball Catapult
NEO Math Competition
2018- 1st Place
2019- 7th Place
1st in Division at NEO Competition - 2019
1st Place Conference Knowledge Bowl Team - 2017
2nd Place Districts Knowledge Bowl - 2015
2019-20 District Officer Representative
2018-19 6 Top 10 finishers at FBLA State competition
2018-19 2nd Place NEO Business Day Competition
2018-19 FBLA District 18 Qualifiers for State
2017-18 District Officer Representative
2017-18 FBLA District 13 Qualifiers for State
2017-18 Created website for Modoc Tribe in Miami, Oklahoma
2017-18 2nd Place NEO Business Day Competition
Year-long Living to Serve Grant - 2019-2020
Student received $1,000 SAE Grant - 2018
3-Star National FFA Chapter for last 7 years in a row
10 American Degrees in the last 5 years
2017-18 State FFA Officer
2014-15 State FFA Officer
State Gold Emblem Chapter for last 7 years in a row
15 State FFA Degrees in the last 5 years
Missouri Outstanding Agriculture Education Program-2014
Athletics (last 5 years)
Track: 10 State Qualifiers
Golf: 4 State Qualifiers (girls and boys)
Cheerleading: State Champions 2016 & 2017, 4 All-American
Football: 4 Academic All-State
Wrestling: State Champions 2016, State Wrestler of the Year 2015 & 2016, 2 Academic All-State
Softball: 4 Academic All-State
Cross-Country: 1 All-State
Volleyball: 6 Academic All-State
Fishing: PTA Championship Tournament 7th Place 2019, NYFA Championship Top 10 2018 & 2019, NYFA Shootout Qualifier 2018
SHS also added 3 MSHAA sports offerings in past 3 years: 2018-Girls Wrestling, 2019- Dance Team, and 2017- Bass Fishing.