Abe Lincoln Elementary School

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

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School is a predominantly Hispanic, high-poverty, Title I school in Cicero, a near-west suburb of Chicago, Illinois. The school's demographics are 98.3 percent Hispanic, 1.2 percent White, 0.1 percent two or more races, 0.1 percent Black and 0.2 percent Asian. The school also has 94 percent of students reporting as low income, 51 percent as English Learners, and 18 percent with an IEP, according to the 2018-2019 Illinois State Board of Education School Report Card. Currently, there are 899 students enrolled at Lincoln. 

The community at Lincoln School is committed to the PLC at Work process as it continues to strive for excellence in everything it does. The school first embarked on the fantastic PLC journey in 2016. At this time, the PLC at Work model became a District initiative to increase student achievement by using collaborative PLC teams as the engine of improvement. 

Members of the administrative team and teachers from each grade level attended a PLC at Work Institute in Tampa, Florida. There, a vision for the future began to take shape, as Lincoln’s leaders learned how highly effective collaborative teams worked. Keynotes and breakout sessions helped the team build shared knowledge about what it takes to be a successful Professional Learning Community. Subsequently, the team was able to use collaborative time to draft the school’s anticipated PLC team structure and plan. 

Armed with the PLC framework, books, and other resources recommended by presenters, Lincoln’s team began to develop a plan to reculture Lincoln School as a Professional Learning Community. The School Leadership Team (SLT) formed a guiding coalition determined to instill the belief that all students can learn at high levels. In early August, before the opening teachers institute, the school’s Leadership Team set out to operationalize the PLC plan.

At the 2016 opening institute day, all of Lincoln’s teachers learned about the Three Big Ideas, Four Critical Questions and Six Key Characteristics of a PLC. Teachers attended a keynote address and then were assigned to breakout sessions. During the breakout sessions, teams were introduced to the processes and tools included in the newly created PLC Handbook. As a follow up, during Lincoln’s "team time," school leadership reinforced how the school would "get started" with collaborative teams. Lincoln’s foundational approach establishing the TEAM Cycle was unveiled, and teachers learned how we would support establishing norms, setting SMART goals, creating common formative assessments, collaborative planning, data analysis and student intervention.   

During the year, members of Lincoln's Leadership Team, specifically the PLC committee, refined the initial framework of the Lincoln School PLC Road Map. The PLC Road Map allowed the school to show how we were creating a shared understanding and commitment of excellence through team collaboration. In October 2016, members of the Leadership Team provided Lincoln staff with follow-up professional development that reinforced that PLCs are “as easy as 3, 4, 6.”   

In February 2017, Lincoln's staff re-normed its professional learning community. Together, the school reviewed the Three Big Ideas of a PLC, Four Critical Questions and Six Key Characteristics. Next, each team created a long cycle SMART goals, and revisited the data analysis protocol. Additionally, administrators obtained feedback from the staff to determine potential roadblocks. It was essential to gather input from staff on the cycle template that would be used for both literacy and math. Lincoln's Leadership Committee communicated the implementation of a collaborative observation walkthrough tool that would be used to improve the team collaboration process. They discussed utilizing team time for supporting students in need of enrichment and interventions, and later presented an online resource toolbox to teachers. This would be where staff would be able to obtain information on strategies to use in all academic areas. 

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Lincoln kept the momentum going. The year began with the reimplementation of its PLC process by focusing on areas of opportunity discovered through both the Critical Issues for Team survey and the PLC focused-learning walks. In October of 2017, Lincoln’s Leadership Team reviewed feedback from the PLC survey and began planning "What's New and What's Next with Collaborative Teams?" Next, administrators provided training to support the creation of common formative assessments. Finally, based on team feedback, the meeting agenda tool was refined. The revised tool asked the team to be more intentional aligning actions to the Four Critical PLC Questions.  

Moving into the 2018-19 academic year, Lincoln reviewed its PLC implementation survey, FLW data, and end-of-year Critical Issues for Teams data to refine its roadmap. Mike Bayewitz, a consultant from Solution Tree, and District 99 supported the work Lincoln was doing as a school. Subsequently, Lincoln re-addressed its mission, vision and collective commitments. Team leaders attended targeted professional development. Additionally, Lincoln’s Leadership Team provided professional development to support areas of opportunity identified through the critical issues for team survey. Finally, the Leadership Team started to refine the school’s Power Half Hour, a daily 30-minute intervention, and enrichment support period based on students' needs.  

As Lincoln has now entered its fifth year as a PLC at Work school within District 99, all members of the school community continue to be active participants in creating an atmosphere of excellence. At Lincoln, students have truly become leaders of their learning. Over the past five years, Lincoln's data has shown a steady increase in student achievement. Components that have contributed to this change include common plan times, utilizing a school-wide template for each unit of study, creating common formative assessments based on unit priority standards, following specific data protocols for analysis, and ongoing professional development. In addition, student-centered learning is taking place in all classrooms. This includes 30 minutes each day for intervention and enrichment support based on students' needs. 

At Lincoln, the shared vision is to strive for excellence every day, in every way continuously. As the school continues its journey of improvement of student achievement, school leaders must continue to evaluate school processes and make adjustments when needed. If leaders continue to do the same thing, the school will get the same results — and Lincoln wants different and better results. The entire school is committed to promoting and supporting the PLC process to influence a mindset toward change and growth daily. 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School has created and implemented systems of intervention and enrichment for all learners. Through this commitment and additional time provided throughout the school day, the school’s academic growth has dramatically increased in reading and math. 

This designated block of time is referred to as Power Half Hour. Teachers create and share instructional opportunities during PLC meetings in the areas of reading, writing, math and test-taking strategies. Students are placed in appropriate, flexible groupings based on academic data, teacher observations and data from online based instructional programs obtained through the PLC process. These groups of students change frequently, as the data used from the different data points change. Teachers complete a specific learning guide that targets the needs of students in a basic skills group, intervention group, meeting group and enrichment group. Teams work together in a Co-Planning Guide that allows for vertical alignment of instruction. Teachers reference standards to target specific needs and skills according to their level of proficiency. These daily, 30-minute blocks provide teachers with the additional time needed to support and enhance student learning.

Lincoln’s guaranteed and viable curriculum lends itself to the workshop model, which allows teachers to differentiate their instruction based on their students’ needs and work with small groups of students.  Our Literacy Interventionists push-in to classrooms to support students during small group instruction, as a Tier 1 level of support. They also work with students in need of supplemental intervention by providing additional instruction at Tier 2 or Tier 3 throughout the students’ instructional day. Students within our co-taught special education program are now receiving additional literacy support from their classroom teachers, ESL teacher and reading interventionists, with the use of our new guided reading program Literacy Footprints. 

Lincoln recognized the need for further professional development on meeting the needs of its gifted learners and students with individualized education plans (IEPs). In response, two additional collaborative teams were created and met outside of school hours. The Gifted Learners PLC studied resources through the professional book, “Differentiating the Curriculum for Gifted Learners,” by Wendy Conklin. The team implemented compacting charts which allowed teachers to break down units of study by standard and identify students who showed mastery on the grade-level team-created pre-assessment. Teachers also utilized Choice Boards and Menus, Tiered Assignments and Questioning, Learning Contracts, and Orbital Studies to meet the needs of gifted or advanced learners. 

The school also created a co-teaching PLC group in response to NWEA and PARCC data for students with IEPs. This collaborative group of staff members met monthly and utilized resources through the professional book, “30 Days to the Co-taught Classroom,” by Dr. Paula Kluth and Dr. Julie Causton. Co-teachers were able to analyze academic data to plan for instruction targeting students with IEPs. They were also provided with training on the different co-teaching models. Through this work, co-taught classroom teachers created Individual Learning Plans for their students. Students were made aware of their learning goals and received individualized support in reaching them. Strategies learned in this PLC were deemed best practice in initiating a culture of collaborative excellence. 

Through collaboration efforts, Lincoln strives to meet the needs of all learners and provides multiple opportunities to further student learning during the school day. These initiatives have guided the school’s decision-making, and provided its grade-level teams with the feedback and data needed to plan for the future. 

 

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

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School has created and implemented systems of intervention and enrichment for all learners. Through this commitment and additional time provided throughout the school day, the school’s academic growth has dramatically increased in reading and math. 

This designated block of time is referred to as Power Half Hour. Teachers create and share instructional opportunities during PLC meetings in the areas of reading, writing, math and test-taking strategies. Students are placed in appropriate, flexible groupings based on academic data, teacher observations and data from online based instructional programs obtained through the PLC process. These groups of students change frequently, as the data used from the different data points change. Teachers complete a specific learning guide that targets the needs of students in a basic skills group, intervention group, meeting group and enrichment group. Teams work together in a Co-Planning Guide that allows for vertical alignment of instruction. Teachers reference standards to target specific needs and skills according to their level of proficiency. These daily, 30-minute blocks provide teachers with the additional time needed to support and enhance student learning.

Lincoln’s guaranteed and viable curriculum lends itself to the workshop model, which allows teachers to differentiate their instruction based on their students’ needs and work with small groups of students.  Our literacy interventionists push-in to classrooms to support students during small group instruction, as a Tier 1 level of support. They also work with students in need of supplemental intervention by providing additional instruction at Tier 2 or Tier 3 throughout the students’ instructional day. Students within our co-taught special education program are now receiving additional literacy support from their classroom teachers, ESL teacher and reading interventionists, with the use of our new guided reading program Literacy Footprints. 

Lincoln recognized the need for further professional development on meeting the needs of its gifted learners and students with individualized education plans (IEPs). In response, two additional collaborative teams were created and met outside of school hours. The Gifted Learners PLC studied resources through the professional book, “Differentiating the Curriculum for Gifted Learners,” by Wendy Conklin. The team implemented compacting charts which allowed teachers to break down units of study by standard and identify students who showed mastery on the grade-level team-created pre-assessment. Teachers also utilized Choice Boards and Menus, Tiered Assignments and Questioning, Learning Contracts, and Orbital Studies to meet the needs of gifted or advanced learners. 

The school also created a co-teaching PLC group in response to NWEA and PARCC data for students with IEPs. This collaborative group of staff members met monthly and utilized resources through the professional book, “30 Days to the Co-taught Classroom,” by Dr. Paula Kluth and Dr. Julie Causton. Co-teachers were able to analyze academic data to plan for instruction targeting students with IEPs. They were also provided with training on the different co-teaching models. Through this work, co-taught classroom teachers created Individual Learning Plans for their students. Students were made aware of their learning goals and received individualized support in reaching them. Strategies learned in this PLC were deemed best practice in initiating a culture of collaborative excellence. 

Through collaboration efforts, Lincoln strives to meet the needs of all learners and provides multiple opportunities to further student learning during the school day. These initiatives have guided the school’s decision-making, and provided its grade-level teams with the feedback and data needed to plan for the future. 

 

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

Collative teams at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School focus on improving student learning through the Three Big Ideas (focus on learning, build a collaborative culture and focus on results). Since implementing these PLC practices, Lincoln has become a high-performing school within District 99. Lincoln students are excelling in the areas of reading and math, and staff have fully embraced the growth mindset and are open to continuous growth. All staff members participate in student learning by providing support for one another. For the 2019-2020 school year, Lincoln’s specials teachers provide academic support to all classrooms in reading and math. These teachers have participated in professional development on providing small group instruction in order to increase academic achievement. These practices have allowed Lincoln to create a school-wide culture of excellence. 

Data analysis has allowed the Lincoln community the ability to target areas of need and enhance learning. The School Leadership Team creates quarterly surveys to gather feedback from staff, students and parents about the school’s progress. These surveys provide everyone the opportunity to have a voice in school improvement. In addition, students are given the chance to rate their learning and provide feedback on their academic experiences. The vast majority of Lincoln staff reported in their surveys that they have a strong comfort level with the following areas: the Four Essential Questions, the Three Big Ideas, creating SMART goals, identifying priority standards, developing CFAs, and implementing interventions and enrichment opportunities. These tools are proven to drive student performance and achievement. 

Our Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports Team, which consists of our school psychologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, literacy interventionists, instructional coaches, school nurse, ESL teachers, administrators and classroom teachers, meet once a week to discuss students in need of support in one or more of the following areas: academics, behavior and attendance. The team discusses students on an individual basis by identifying their need(s), the data to support the area(s) in need, what the teacher has already done to support the student and identify supports that can be provided by members of our team in order for the student to be successful. The appropriate data tracking systems will be established and a time frame will be decided upon at each meeting. A follow up meeting will be scheduled to reconvene and discuss the progress each student has made with the plan that was created and the data that was collected. 

Since beginning the PLC process with fidelity, Lincoln has shown 17 percent growth as measured by the MAP assessment (Domo, 2019). During the 2014-15 school year, 21.5 percent of students were meeting national norms. The most recent data shows that 38.7 percent of students are meeting national norms. Following Lincoln’s first year of PLCs, student performance increased by 8.8 percent. These huge improvements in achievement encouraged Lincoln’s community to move forward with the PLC process. Due to this commitment, Lincoln has become the highest-performing school in Cicero District 99. (Domo, 2019)

District 99 has set goals for strategic planning to enhance student learning and encourage growth. Lincoln continues to implement collaborative teamwork in all areas of the school. The building works toward creating a culture of excellence, where students will become lifelong learners. Students will continue to be leaders of their own learning by following their teachers’ examples. Lincoln has provided students with universal access to personalized learning devices and individual hotspots for internet access.  As a result, students receive the opportunity to strive for excellence every day, and in every way through collaboration."

 

Abe Lincoln received a Commendable rating from the Illinois State Board of Education in 2018 and 2019.

Abe Lincoln received the highest rating of Well-Organized for the Illinois State Board of Education 5 Essentials Survey for the 2018-2019 school year.

 

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