Morris Middle School (2022)

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

Morris Middle School is committed to the Professional Learning Community (PLC) process. Over the last few years, we have implemented numerous structures that have been the foundation for building successful collaborative learning teams. When deciding on a place to start, we determined that comprehensive staff training was our necessary entry point. We slowly folded in the PLC model of looking at data and decided on a guaranteed curriculum by choosing essential outcomes. As our campus continues to train new staff members in the Solution Tree RTI and PLC methods, we analyze our implantation of both processes each year to ensure we are addressing our deficits and continue to reach our goals. Teacher surveys are sent at the end of the year to determine what areas of our master schedule worked and which need adjustments in order to maximize planning and intervention time. From this feedback and our training in both RTI and PLC, we have adjusted core class times to be 80 minutes in length, created an additional every other day collaborative learning team period for teachers, established an every other day enrichment/intervention period for students, and created common planning periods. 

Each year, we have added a new piece to our PLC process to look at student data and growth. We begin by reviewing data and its impact on campus changes. We also review our mission, vision, and collective commitments and take time to discuss our STAAR data and make purposeful goals. Team leads take these campus goals and use them to create individual team SMART goals, which are reviewed at each common assessment data meeting. Part of guaranteeing student growth is our organization and attention to detail with data. Within the collaborative learning team, we have data team meetings and structured conversations that focus on the whole student. We use PLC modeled learning team time to discuss best teaching practices for the EO’s that were chosen for re-teach, as well as, share data and calibrate our understanding of each student expectation.

One of the ways we collect data for these discussions in our learning team is by creating and implementing an Instructional Rounds schedule. In Instructional Rounds we collect data that gives us insight on our progress towards our campus goals and vision. We then take that data into the content learning team meeting and discuss ways to make our data stronger and our vision more clear. One of the roles of the learning teams at Morris is to backwards plan by creating a common assessment using the essential outcomes and looking at data to decide which teaching strategies or activities were most effective. Additionally, we adjusted our master schedule to allow for eighty minute daily blocks of math, reading, and science. This has allowed us to add an enrichment/intervention period every other day as well as an additional conference period to meet with teams in collaborative learning groups.

When creating a structure that is focused on student progress, it is important to create a strong leadership team that will run campus learning teams. Every six weeks, the Morris administration meets with the team leads to discuss growth and monitor progress towards campus goals. It is important in the PLC process for the leads to have full communication with the administrative team to ensure we remain on the same page and focus on one common goal. We also meet with new teachers each six weeks to facilitate their ongoing growth and understanding of campus goals and culture. We have the trainer of trainers model where we meet with team leads and ask them to go back to their teams to share data, staff development, and campus information. We have the mindset that communication is imperative.

Additionally, the leadership team links all training throughout the school year to our campus goals.  Walk-throughs, coaching cycles, data meetings, and pre-unit meetings address elements of our campus focus.  This year we are focusing on the unfair advantage each of us brings to the table and how we can better meet the needs of students when we use these unfair advantages to help all students, not just those in our classroom.  Detailed reviews of our data led to the focus on building literacy and providing academic growth for all students. Each member on the team plays an important role in this process. We share students in enrichment/intervention, and we share strategies. In addition to these processes, we meet weekly as a leadership team to discuss various items including where we have identified classroom and content learning team struggles.  We ensure we are all on the same page with collaborative team expectations and meet with team leads to maintain clear communication and focus.  This practice has helped support the growth of new and/or struggling teams.

We also have two campus intervention teachers that focus on student growth and data. We added the program this year to address our deficit in Academic Growth and Closing the Gaps. Intervention teachers attend all data meetings with the learning teams and monitor student data on essential outcomes (EO’s). In addition to meeting with the leadership team, the intervention team meets each week to discuss student progress and data as it relates to each content area and creates a plan that is personalized for a group of students that have indicated, through data, extra help is needed to master essential outcomes. They play a key role in providing small group, Tier II intervention for students who do not demonstrate mastery on EO’s. They also provide reassessment for students to determine who needs to be pulled again in class. We have also established a Tier III math and reading class aimed at improving reading levels and math fluency through LLI and teaching prerequisit skills to EO's. 

At Morris, we have the vision that “All Means All” when it comes to student progress. This ranges from the front office staff and how they greet parents and give information, to the instructional paraprofessionals who are in the classrooms working with students. We met with and trained the front office staff by bringing in a Chick-fil-A representative to discuss customer service and culture perception and impressions of Morris. In addition, we meet with and train all instructional paraprofessionals to be positive, attentive, and cognizant of student data. We ask that all instructional paraprofessionals attend content learning team meetings, as well as any content training, on district-wide staff development days.

The message we hope to always convey to staff is that it is not about what we can’t do on our own; it is about what we collectively can do better. To summarize, we have systems and data tools in place to facilitate continuous growth. Surveys, pre-unit meeting forms, data meeting templates, team SMART goals, an evolving schedule, system for the tiers of instructional and behavioral intervention, and an all means all mindset, ensures we are always looking for ways to improve.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Morris Middle School uses a three step systematic process to guide and ensure consistency in campus learning teams.

Pre-Unit PLC Meeting (Pre-Unit Meeting Tool)

The first step to monitoring student learning is the Pre-Unit collaborative team meeting. The content learning team creates the parameters of an instructional unit: timeframe, the standards taught, clarification on selected standards (including TEK deconstruction), and agreement on formative and summative assessments. The campus coach facilitates this meeting along with the team lead to ensure everyone understands the complexity of the standard and has clear learning targets for students. The teams then create guided questions, predict and plan for misconceptions and distractors, identify building block skills and agree on non-negotiable content. The most important part of these meetings is answering the four PLC questions: What should students be able to do? How will you know when they can do it?  What do you do for unsuccessful students? What do you do with students who master quickly? The answers to these questions drive our meeting for the remainder of the unit as we identify struggling students and plan for Tier II and Tier III intervention. Following this initial meeting we build and vet our common assessment.

Campus Dashboard – Tool to ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum (Dashboard Tool)

As teams meet every other day for collaborative planning, they agree upon the most essential outcomes and the supporting standards that will make up the upcoming unit.  After these standards are chosen, student-friendly learning objectives are written and agreed upon by the team.  Each team completes the campus Dashboard Tool, to ensure everyone is clear about the weeks learning outcomes. During the content learning team meeting, we focus on the PLC questions as we discuss how to teach the material. Instructional strategies are brainstormed, discussed, modeled and listed as a resource for teachers. The team will also use data from previous assessments to identify struggling learners. Tier II skills are chosen and agreed upon by the team. The intervention teacher participates in the planning of re-teaching EO’s. Timeframes for small group intervention are selected and the team discusses different instructional strategies to help student progress in the essential outcomes from a previous instructional unit.

Data Meeting

Data meetings are essential in creating a functioning PLC that meets the needs of all students. At Morris, instructional coaches prepare assessment data in a variety of ways to assist the data-meeting leader. This data includes comparisons of the previous year’s data by students and by teacher performance. Teachers are asked to bring a list of their students unsuccessful in essential outcomes, as well as baseline data (testing performance from the previous year) to track progress as well as mastery. Item analysis, which examines student performance question by question on assessments, is also conducted to identify instructional practices that demonstrate the appropriate rigor, teacher by teacher. This year we are including a data tracker that marks student progress and growth based on the prior year’s STAAR data. This is a new focus for our campus as we have moved towards closing the gaps for all students.

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


Morris Middle School has four major focus areas to address intervention and enrichment.

Master Schedule

As our campus has grown using the PLC process, we identified elements in our master schedule that could change to increase time for intervention. Our students are scheduled into classes using multiple data points, such as historical assessment performance, reading comprehension level, MAP Math and Reading RIT scores, and Tier III student data (the campus criteria for Tier III is that a student is operating at least years below grade level in Reading and Math). On campus, there are three options in the master schedule if a student has been identified as Tier II and Tier III: Every Other Day (EOD) enrichment classes, Reading-based Social Studies classes, and four campus intervention teachers. Two will pull during a student’s self-directed learning period to provide intervention on EO's. These groups are fluid and change after each common assessment. Tier III readers are placed in an SDL class with a reading intervention teacher who strictly follows a literacy-based curriculum to build students reading levels. Likewise, students who are identified as Tier III in math are placed in an SDL math class where the teacher focuses on math fluency and teaching perquisite skills to essential standards.  Intervention teachers use data from the common assessments to pull students out of enrichment classes for Tier II intervention. This is the 3rd school year in which Reading, Math and Science content classes consist of 80 minutes of instructional time.  The intention is that every content teacher on campus also schedules Tier II, skill-based tutoring and Tier III, remediation for struggling students during their normal class day.

Self-Directed Learning (SDL) and Mentoring Classes

Every content teacher on campus has an EOD enrichment class that is used for mentoring and social emotional learning.  During this time, we focus on behavior intervention, mentoring, and social emotional learning. Students’ complete counselor lessons, meet with their teacher to set goals and discuss progress, and have time to work independently on assignments. Students also have a self-directed learning period. Student having been identified to have significant deficiencies in mathematics are purposefully scheduled with a math content teacher for additional time and support.  During the math content team meetings, specific activities and instructional strategies are chosen for their enrichment classes. For students who struggle with specific concepts or standards, the Math Intervention teacher schedules students for small group instruction strategically during this time. Students who show consistent mastery of reading and math content are purposefully scheduled with a science teacher who is charged with providing engaging STEM activities for skill enrichment.

Intervention Teachers

Math and reading each have an Intervention Teacher who monitors and tracks how often a student has received intervention tutorials, what content was covered during the intervention and makes sure they are reassessed after an adequate amount of tutorial time. These teachers also track the usage and success of accommodations and supplemental aides so they can refer these tools for use in the classroom by the general education teacher. This year we have added Tier III reading a math class to in an attempt to close the gaps created by loss of instruction with COVID last school year. 

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

Although we have many ways we work collaboratively to build the capacity of all team members, in this area we will focus on the four we feel are most impactful. 

Internal Campus Instructional Rounds 

Twice a year, a team of teachers is selected for internal campus Instructional Rounds. They will spend either half or all of the school day walking through other classrooms and using data collection tools. The tools are designed specifically to capture data focused on our campus problem of practice and instructional emphasis for the school year. Afterwards, the data is analyzed for instructional patterns and S.M.A.R.T. goals are created for campus instructional improvement. The data artifact is provided to instructional teams and individual teachers, and this information is used in content team planning.

Campus New Teacher Cohort

To build new teacher capacity we ensure each new staff member is connected on our campus. Every teacher new to Morris Middle School, or new to teaching, is required to participate in a cohort where the goal is to add management tools, instructional strategies and other necessary components to teaching.  The group meets every six weeks after school with a new instructional focus for modeling and discussion. Additionally, each staff member new to teaching is provided with a campus mentor. These mentor/mentee teams attend district PD and conduct observation cycles and reflections with one another.

Team Lead PLC 

Our campus is also focused on building school leaders. Every content team leader meets with administration at least once every six weeks to hone their leadership skills and discuss the status of their content learning team. Professional Learning Community (PLC) theory and practice are discussed and applied to individual teams for discussion and growth. Additionally, pre-unit planning, intervention needs, and assessment and data tools are discussed and evaluated for efficacy and adaptation.  

Classroom Restructuring Based on Teacher Data

After benchmark testing, data is analyzed as a campus, teacher by teacher.  Instructional strategies are presented and modeled by teachers showing strength in essential outcomes. As a team, intervention strategies and a restructuring plan is created in which students are placed with teachers showing strength in their weak instructional areas. Students will receive intensive instruction based on the highest need EO during this time. This is only done to solidify the belief that all of the students on campus are “our” kids and that we have a shared responsibility that extends beyond their traditional schedule.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The 2021-2022 school year was the first school year of state accountability since the 2018 school year. Our consistent focus on implementing the PLC process supported us in earning an A rating and five state distinctions last school year. Our focus on growth and collective responsibility for students also allowed us to exit all state safeguards listed for our campus in the 2018 school year.

Since 2017, the number of special education students at Morris has increased and it is now a student group that has a greater impact on our accountability data. With these changes in our student population, we have moved to the co-teach model and have seen growth in using this system.  Teacher teams are planning collaboratively for instruction and formative assessment in order to meet the needs of all of our students.  

Overall enrollment showed a significant decline in sixth grade during the 2017-2018 school year, which led to staffing changes. However, the percentage of Special Education students and Limited English Proficient students in sixth grade remained the same.  You will notice increases in both the math and reading data the following year, because with the staff changes, we were able to create a culture of collective responsibility and attribute the gains to the power of these teams collaborating and intervening for students as a team rather than individually.  The percentage of students in special populations continued to show growth since the 2018-2019 school year.

Both sixth grade reading and math teams experienced turnover and movement at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. In the 2018-2019 school year, our 6th grade math team consisted of four first year teachers and one veteran. We focused on building capacity through school wide systems of intervention and by-student-by-standard Tier II instruction for students in need, twice weekly collaborative team meetings and mentorship of our new teachers and we were able to maintain achievement levels.

We also shifted to a full campus model for personalized learning in the 2021-2022 school year. This created a big shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on student learning.  Students learn using an online platform that measures cognitive skill building through student projects, teacher mentoring, peer mentoring, and building students Habits of Success through the process.  Students coming into fifth grade came from elementary schools with experience navigating the platform through this instructional model and exhibited self-direction in reading and collaborating with peers and teachers to create projects.  

Additionally, we have seen a rise in the number of LEP students including those identified as "new-comers" enroll at Morris Middle School. These students enter US schools for the first time in 5th or 6th grade and typically speak Spanish or Vietnamese. In Texas, fifth grade students can take their assessment in Spanish. However, in sixth grade, students must test in English regardless of their language proficiency level. We work to improve phonological awareness, fluency, and comprehension of our first year LEP students in fifth grade knowing they will test in English in sixth grade.

This school year we did not have SSI, a second testing opportunity in May for 5th grade students. Previously, the time between the first STAAR test in March and the second in May was used to provided intensive and targeted intervention for STAAR failures. In the 2020-2021 school year, all students only tested in May. The data included is final with all test administrations. Additionally, although 50% of our students were virtual during the 2020-2021 school year, we had 98% of students come to campus to test. The state average for test partication was only 88%.

Due to retirements and relocations, we have four new members on our math and reading teams. We have focused our training in the PLC model and used time to immerse our new members in the campus All Means All philosophy. We are excited to see the continued positive impact this mindset has on student success.

We have used common assessment data, MAP data, and STAAR Interim data to track progress of students and highlight needs for RTI. Although common assessment score gaps between learning formats are closing, we still see gaps in overall performance due to students not completing the normal content in the 2019-2020 school year as a result of COVID campus closures and virtual learning in 2020-2021. Last school year as many student returned to campus for the first time we shifted focus to SEL and behavior interventions as a support to combating learning loss. 

While we have had some shifts in our demographics, enrollment, and learning format options, the commitment of our administration, faculty, and staff to the PLC Process and to refine our collaborative team and intervention processes, we have seen the culture shift and more students who are successful both academically, socially, and emotionally at Morris Middle School.

In the 2021-2022 school year Morris Middle School was recognized with the CREST Award for Counseling and has been identified as a TASSP Nationally Recognized Schools to Watch Campus. These awards are presented to schools who focus on the collective responsibility for academic and emotional education of students. Implementing the PLC process and using data and feedback to refine our systems led us to earning an A rating in the Texas Accountability system, along with five state distinctions. We are also currently a PLC Model School. 

Previously after working on building our PLC systems for two years, we earned two state Distinction designations, one in Science and one in Post-Secondary Readiness in the 2018 school year.  These were the first two Distinctions earned in over six years. Additionally, we were in the first quartile for master level performance of our comparable state campuses in 5th grade math and reading.