Freeport Elementary

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

   Our story is very unique. Five years ago, things did not look good for our school. Back then, we were a PK-4 campus and in an Improvement Required status. Our school (named OA Fleming at the time) scored the lowest across all subject areas and all grade levels in district /state testing. Unsuccessful strategies that were implemented were the use of a regimented, scripted curriculum that had no teacher autonomy, meetings held after school that were not focused on student learning and results, all which resulted in huge teacher turnover. The morale was low, and teachers were frustrated and stressed. These were dark times for our school and our district. Drastic measures had to be made to avoid being a dismal failure both to our students and to this community.  Knowing that leadership is key in transforming the campus and culture of the school, new leadership was sought.  The new administrators worked tirelessly to make some major changes, and one of the changes was transforming the PK - 4th elementary into a PK-1 Early Childhood Campus. Our vision was to create an early childhood campus that had a laser focus on early learning and closing the gaps for our high poverty population.  Our “sister” school, which is less than two miles away, would serve 2nd through 4th grade.  Our re-organized staff of teachers and paraprofessionals that were passionate about student learning stayed, and we got to work!  The new direction and purpose for our campus became literacy and teaching children to read on grade level. We believe that if a child can read, they can do anything! 

   Since that time, we have put in the work to transform our school into a high performing, engaging, and productive learning environment. We strive to ensure that our children are future-ready and that all of our students leave our campus reading on grade level or above! Our school is now one of the top-performing schools in our grade span in our district, yet we still have the same student population we have always had: a high percentage of students at risk, high poverty, and English learners. How did we turn things around so drastically and how do we experience success year after year? Our answer? By working together as a collaborative team, and having shared accountability for our students’ learning. Many of our staff have attended the Solution Tree Conferences in Houston and San Antonio, where they acquired invaluable  knowledge of the PLC process.  We budget our money to accommodate numerous teams to attend annually.  It’s our educational “revival” that gives us fresh ideas and positive affirmation. Our staff continues to learn and lead the collaborative and fundamental practices learned at the conferences. We are firm believers in the PLC process and we believe that ALL students can learn. The foundational elements of the Three Big Ideas and the Four Critical Questions drive our success. We have institutionalized the PLC beliefs; it is our culture and how we do business.  In the following essays are some of the strategies and practices that have been put into place at our school during the past five years. These practices transformed us from a low performing school with little success into “The Land of the Littles” a place where students and faculty learn at high levels and excel! 

Freeport Elementary Video-See what we are all about!

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

When we began our journey, our kids couldn’t read, our scores were the lowest in the district and the state had their eyes on us as a failing school. Having just gone through a huge change in staff and administration, it was time to find out exactly how much skin we were willing to put in the game. Taking an honest look at what we were doing in the individual classrooms and sharing our practices during collaboration was one of the most challenging steps in our transformation. With ten teachers per grade level, how were we ever going to get on the same page? Step number one, we had to agree on our Essential Outcomes, the “have to knows” in order for our students to be successful. What was the absolute hard line of essential skills 100% of our students will leave performing to mastery? Through some uncomfortable discussions and thoughtful reflections, we were able to identify the vital components of our curriculum. Our first step was to identify the “boulders”, which became our Essential Outcomes. These Essential Outcomes became the focus of our collaborative discussions. During our planning process, it helped us to create a unified vision of student success. No matter what classroom the students would be in, they would all leave having the same expectation of learning essential skills for decoding and reading. To ensure the students would all leave with 100% mastery, we used our teaching teams to create common formative assessments based on the essential outcomes. By collaboratively building our assessments as teams, we were able to narrow and increase the focus on student learning. Collaboration and sharing best instructional practices opened a new understanding of ways to teach the essential outcomes that included multiple learning styles, quality relevant station activities, small group teaching, tiered interventions and enrichment activities. Guiding us through this process were the four critical questions. This process got expanded district wide as our school faculty took the lead on creating the district wide skill based skills-based report card assessment for prek and kindergarten grade bands. While creating these assessments, our focus continued to be on our state Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and our Essential Outcomes. Using these key steps in the PLC process provided a building block of a solid viable curriculum that our professional teaching teams continue to build upon. 

With our Essential Outcomes identified and agreed upon, we needed to know our individual student’s baseline. Each of our teaching teams created a student inventory, focused on finding the individual student’s starting point. We used the data to provide interventions to either increase reading foundational skills or provide the students with reading enrichment. As new students enroll, within the first week, we use the student inventory to identify their needs, as well as a reading ability test, DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment). We don’t wait for the middle or end of year formal assessments to begin addressing student needs; we know the key to success is immediate early interventions.  In addition to the student inventory, we have teacher created common formative assessments which are aligned to our Essential Outcomes. We have monthly assessments through iStation that break the student reading understanding into multiple categories, a few include: vocabulary, decoding, fluency, comprehension, and phonemic awareness. We use the focused data to provide direct Tier 2 interventions facilitated by the full team of teachers as well as master paraprofessionals and interventionists. This Tier 2 times is built into the Master Schedule, and is faithfully adhered to. By breaking the needs down to the exact skill, we have been able to decrease on the students that move into Tier 3 interventions. Our method is to ensure students are taught standard by standard, unit by unit, lesson by lesson, and skill by skill. We know our kids, we know their needs and we take action! Common formative assessments provide additional data on the essential outcomes and interventions that would benefit the students. As with every campus, we use beginning, middle, and end of year district assessments that provide data on our students, but it is the frequent and current data obtained using the student inventory, iStation and common formative assessments that have helped our teachers and students provide the specific needed interventions. It is with purpose, passion and persistence that we have created systems that will not allow any of our students to fail. Our mission is for ALL students to succeed….ALL MEANS ALL! 

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

During our PLC journey, we attended the RTI at Work conference in January 2018. Prior to that we read and were familiar with the practices of quality tiered interventions. However, we came to the realization that we were missing an essential piece to the RTI puzzle. Although we were addressing the needs of Tier one and Tier three effectively, Tier two interventions were lacking. Immediately upon return  from this conference, we met as a team and collaboratively revamped our intervention schedules based on the knowledge we received from this workshop. Using student data and teacher input, we created a structured framework for Tier two interventions, and built it into the Master Schedule.  Although the school year had already started, we immediately incorporated our new Tier 2 block of time into our daily schedule. Presently, we have intervention time built into our day as most schools do in our district. However, we feel that our process is more in-depth for our “littles” especially. Teachers drill down the data, have collaborative discussions amongst their team and then determine the best intervention for each student. This all happens during our collaborative discussions. Once student needs are identified, a team of strong dedicated professionals take action. It is the collective responsibility of our staff, including teachers, interventionists and support staff to respond to student learning needs. Data is continuously monitored through a variety of assessments so it changes based on the progress of the individual student. Our master schedule reflects the specialized  systems that have been put in place for our student intervention needs. RTI time is highly valued and respected.

In response to critical question number four, we must also address the needs of our students performing at high levels. Based on our data many are performing above grade level. As professionals, we understand the obligation to meet their needs as well. We offer enrichment opportunities through Tier two advanced lessons, Learning Zones, STEM Nights, Afterschool Dance Program, STREAM Program, Spatial Temporal (ST) Math Club, Accelerated Reading Club, Latino Literacy Nights and Academic Nights. Students are challenged to reach beyond their advanced knowledge to gain a deeper understanding of complex material. As professionals, we know that students will rise to our expectations, and we want to provide enrichment opportunities for all of our students.
 

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

In order to transform our school into a successful Early Childhood campus, we knew that building teacher capacity through collaboration was key. With the reconfiguration of two campuses coming together, our first goal was to create teams that functioned as one unit. One of the first steps taken was to send a team of teachers and administrators to the PLC Conference in 2015. During our first year, collaborative meetings were heavily led by administration, where they planned and conducted the business. Teachers did not have complete buy-in to the process and they became dependent on administration for the planning and leading of these meetings. Looking back, there was quite a bit of “co-blaberating” going on in the early years of our journey.  We knew that we needed to do the work to better ourselves in order to get the results we wanted from our students, but did not know exactly how. In order to arm staff members with first hand knowledge of the PLC process, each year we sent teams of teachers to the conferences and workshops. This team of teachers would later become our FES Guiding Coalition. We would put the practices and strategies learned at the conferences into action, little by little. We embedded Professional Learning Community @ Work professional development into our campus staff meetings as a way to continuously share knowledge about best practice and processes.  As the years went on, our staff became better equipped and empowered by the knowledge gained at the PLC conferences. With our new structure and team in place, we were challenged again in 2017 by another reconfiguration to double our student numbers and staff, but that did not stop us from what we had set out to do. We embraced our new staff members, trained them and armed them with knowledge of our processes, and continued our work. By the end of 2017, our administrators were no longer leading the meetings. Collaborative meetings became true collaborative meetings, and not “co-blaborative” meetings, with teachers taking the lead. The process has been slow, but consistent, and we have built  teacher confidence and autonomy by sharing the responsibilities of planning and leading the collaborative time together. Teachers truly understand the PLC process and they have expanded their understanding and comfort level with leading collaborative discussions. Our teams are self directed, with continuous improvement as the goal. Teams form norms and hold each other to those norms. Each member of the team has responsibilities (commitments) and holds each other accountable for their commitments to the team. Our SMART goals and Essential Outcomes serve to keep our teams committed to the right work and keeps us laser focused on what needs to be done. Collaboration is not just spent in a meeting setting, but has now reached all areas and times of the day, and includes discussions with our paraprofessionals, as well as our support staff. We collaborate during meetings on Tuesday, in the hallways, and during teacher lunch breaks. It is the way we do business, and it is our new norm. In 2018-2019, we happen to have a large influx of new teachers, and we knew they would need extra support. In order to support our new teachers, we held after school sessions, “New Teacher Academy”, on site once a month after school. During these monthly after school sessions, new teachers were provided an hour for job embedded professional development, time to share best practices and challenges, and time for reflection. These sessions were facilitated by our Assistant Principal. There were 9 teachers that participated during Year One with 7 teachers returning for Year Two. Two teachers chose to transfer to other campuses, so 100% of our new teachers stayed in the teaching profession that we hired in 2018-2019. For our next school year (2020-2021) we will have no teacher openings, with 100% teacher retention! Teachers are happy and productive on our campus, and have all chosen to stay at Freeport Elementary. Having a consistent staff has made a huge difference in the quality of the instruction being provided to our students, and that has helped us be a successful PK-1st campus. 

Highest Staff Attendance in 2015-2016 for the district 

DOW Grant Recipeints-2017-2018

BISD Education Foundation Grant Recipients 2018-2019

BISD Education Foundation Grant Recipients 2019-2020

Sustaining PLC Rating 2018-2019

Sustaining PLC Rating 2019-2020

 

 

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