Unionville Elementary School
- Number of Students: 240
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 73.3%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0%
- Percent of Special Education: 12.9%
- White: 92.9%
- Black: 2.1%
- Hispanic: 2.5%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 2.5%
- Other: 0%
Building a Shared Understanding and Commitment to the Work and the Process: Our PLC journey began in the Summer of 2011, when many of our faculty were able to attend a PLC institute. That experience was one that provided inspiration, energy, and incentive to start the work. Since then, our faculty has engaged in book studies, local professional development offerings, and article reviews to seek answers to questions regarding our collaborative practices. The principal monitors the work of collaborative teams and provides ongoing reminders of our collective commitment to ensure high levels of learning for all. In addition, our district identifies itself as a PLC district and regularly communicates the importance of the work, including the designation of weekly collaborative time. More than anything, though, shared understanding and commitment is gained and maintained through the day to day work of our PLCs. We personify the phrase "learning by doing,” engaging in practices that promote and represent collective efforts across classrooms, the school, and the district. Finally, our school district uses Marzano’s framework for teacher and administrator evaluations, which further emphasizes a shared understanding of many practices related to and embedded in PLCs.
Facilitating a Culture of Continuous Improvement: We are deliberate in our efforts to maintain high expectations for ALL. There are accountability measures in place to monitor student progress and the work of teams. We meet with each classroom teacher, once a month, as an intervention team (instructional coach, special education teacher, speech pathologist, school psychologist, principal, social worker, classroom teacher, special education aide, preventionists). This team discusses student performance, reviews intervention plans, and redesigns and reassigns support as is needed to ensure the student is making accelerated progress. All members of the team are expected to bring data to these meetings to help inform decisions. Additionally, the principal integrates the expectation for continuous improvement into the evaluation process, as each teacher is asked to define professional goals and to take action in reaching those goals. Finally, the structure of our Professional Learning Community supports teachers as they seek solutions to problems. Teams set quarterly goals for student achievement and report progress on those goals to the principal through their weekly PLC notes.
Building Teacher Capacity to Work as Members of High Performing Collaborative Teams: Teachers are engaged in a cycle of collaborating, teaching, and evaluating that allows them multiple opportunities to participate in action research. They hypothesize methods for generating high levels of learning, implement those methods, and test their effectiveness. The collection of data, through the use of CFAs, allows for concrete evidence related to the effectiveness of instruction. Our collaborative culture provides a rich learning environment for teachers, where they are continuously learning about and reflecting on the most effective strategies for generating high levels of learning. Therefor, teachers are engaged in ongoing, job-embedded, professional development.
Our Actions Related to the Four Critical Questions of Learning:
1) What do we expect students to know and be able to do? - Our school and district have done extensive work to come to collective agreements about our viable and guaranteed curriculum. There are grade level teams who meet at least once a week to plan for instruction and to clarify examples of the exemplars related to the essential learning. Essential learnings (ELs) are clearly defined for English Language Arts and Math at each grade level. These ELs are reviewed regularly and are revised as determined necessary by teams of teachers.
2) How will we know if students have learned? - Teams have written common formative (CFA) and summative assessments to determine student performance in relationship to each EL. Scales and exemplars exist to help teachers determine performance levels, which are reported on a growth based report card, using a 0-4 scale. At least 3 forms of each CFA exist to allow teachers to collect data before instruction (benchmark) and along the way. Teachers use other, less intrusive, assessments to gather information regarding the learning taking place (ex. observation, student interviews/performance assessments, portfolio review). Learning is defined as the knowledge gained or lost, as measured by assessments. Assessment results are reviewed by teachers, collaboratively and are used to plan core instruction and targeted interventions.
3) How will we respond if students have not learned? - Assessment data is reviewed, collaboratively, weekly. Students who do not show proficiency are assigned additional instruction in a tier II or III time, in addition to core instruction. We have 3 aides available to support these small groups, sometimes pushing in to classrooms to allow for classroom teachers to provided targeted intervention. Other times, aides provide the targeted instruction. Teams make decisions about which adults should be assign to each student or small group, depending on the pedagogical skill set that is needed. Aide support is flexible and the intervention schedule/human resources are reassigned regularly, throughout the year (in response to student need).
4) How will we respond if students have already learned? - When students show proficiency, they are moved on to skills/projects that provide appropriate challenge. Teachers utilize differentiation strategies and provide enrichment/targeted instruction during tier II and III time, which we call Arrow Time. Additionally, students are accelerated in math to provide an appropriate instructional match.
Collective Commitments: All employees in our school community have agreed to one another that our work will be focused on results. We agree that it is our vision to ensure that all children are learning at high levels. We agree that we will work collaboratively to achieve that vision and that we will deliver the instruction in the context of E.A.R.T.H., our curriculum framework. We agree to utilized the PLC at Work process to define success, to assess performance, and to design instruction.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Common Essential Standards and Related Documents
As a district, we have identified the essential standards for each grade level. We have also developed many supplemental materials (ex. scales, scaffolding documents, formative/summative assessments, and academic vocabulary lists) that are used universally in each and every classroom, in all 14 elementary schools (including Unionville Elementary). Standards are taught, assessed, retaught, and reassessed in a continuous cycle, with the goal of ensuring each student shows proficiency. We utilize a growth-based report card that communicates benchmark and current proficiency levels to guardians. All of these documents are reviewed and revised on a regular basis. There are mechanisms in place to allow collaborative teams to give feedback.
Collaborative Problem Solving and Regular Review of Data
Collaborative teams meet weekly to review the most current data and to build instructional plans around the needs and strengths demonstrated by students on formative assessments. Our weekly intervention team meetings happen in addition to grade level collaborative team time (dedicated time on Wednesday mornings). We refer to the intervention meetings as “Team Talks.” We meet with each classroom teacher, once a month, during Team Talks (instructional coach, special education teacher, speech pathologist, school psychologist, principal, social worker, classroom teacher, special education aide, preventionists). This team discusses student performance, reviews intervention plans, and redesigns and reassigns support as is needed to ensure the student is making accelerated progress. All members of the team are expected to bring data to these meetings to help inform decisions.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Response To Intervention (RtI)
Unionville Elementary utilizes a RtI model for designing instruction, monitoring effectiveness, and assigning interventions. We have invested a lot of time and effort in making sure our tier I instruction is strong. We always start with an examination of tier I instruction and make changes, as needed. Students who do not show proficiency are given additional and/or different instruction to ensure they mastery of all essential skills.
We have two full time preventionists (aides) and one special education aide assigned to support teachers in delivering tier II and III interventions. We are mindful of putting the most experienced adult with the students who need the most support, though this is not always possible. The addition of preventionists to the intervention teams greatly increases the teachers’ abilities to give students the support they need in a timely manner.
Dynamic Intervention Schedule
The principal is the creator of the master schedule and intervention schedule, and she realizes that a good and effective intervention schedule should be fair, but will not ever be equal. The schedule and the assignment of preventionists is not static. The schedule is in constant flux, responding to the most critical needs across the school environment. These decisions are made as a result of the review of data.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Dedicated Collaborative Time with SMART Goals
Every certified staff member in our school is a member of one or more collaborative teams. There is time each week, on Wednesday mornings, when everyone is engaged in the work of PLCs. Teams are assembled in meaningful clusters and focus their work on the guiding questions. Each team is required to set quarterly SMART goals, which focus on improved (high levels) of leaning for all students.
Teams are required to produce notes and to submit those notes to the principal, each week. The notes are taken on a form, which was designed by the principal to support teams in working on the right work. Each notes form is personalized for the team, including their specific team norms, their SMART goals, and a current list of their students, receiving Tier II or III instruction. The notes sheet asks team members to report on the data being reviewed the related guiding questions, the instructional strategies discussed, status of progress for those receiving Tier II and III instruction, and reasons to celebrate. The routine of filling out the notes sheet has helped teams habitualize the behaviors of high performing collaborative teams.
We are intentional about celebrating. Each classroom has ways in which they empower students to track their progress toward learning goals. We have found this to be very motivating and a great tool in developing growth mindset. Tracking progress on individual learning goals gives many opportunities to celebrate improved student learning.
Teacher Evaluation Model
In our district, we use Robert Marzano’s teacher evaluation model, which helps to emphasize many of the critical components of a high performing team. A few of the related elements are: Providing Rigorous Learning Goals and Performance Scales, Tracking Student Progress, Demonstrating Value and Respect for Low Expectancy Students, Attention to Established Content Standards, Promoting Positive Interactions with Colleagues, Mentoring Other Teachers and Sharing Ideas and Strategies, Seeking Mentorship, and Participating in School Initiatives. The principal utilizes the evaluation model to further emphasize the priorities of the school, PLCs being the structure (and way of being) that is woven into all we do.
In addition to the learning done in teams, we engage in book studies and in other professionl development opportunities. Each year, our school district holds professional learning days for teachers. Learning regarding PLCs is always an option. Teams and individuals are encouraged to attend these trainings, as need is demonstrated. Our district sends new administrators and teachers (when funds allow) to PLC Institutes.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Unionville Elementary School began the process of becoming a PLC school in the fall of 2011, 7.5 years ago. Much growth has been experienced in both the collaborative pracitces of our teams and in the academic achiement of our students. In the spring of 2012, 72.6% of our 3rd-6th graders were proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) according to state standardized tests (ISTEP), and only 81.8% were proficient in Math. The last time we took ISTEP was in the spring of 2018, when 91.2% of our students showed proficiency in ELA and 86% showed proficiency in Math, 18.6% and 4.2% gains, respectively, over the 6 year period. In the spring of 2019 a new standardized assessment was adopted in Indiana (ILEARN). We have recieved numerous awards and forms of recognition as a result of this growth, including: 4 star school status, "A" school designation, and the recent receipt of the title National Blue Ribbon School.
Since making a commitment to the PLC at Work process our school has recieved the following awards and recognition:
4 Star School
Indiana "A" School
Indiana Department of Education STEM Certified
2018 Indiana Outdoor Classroom of the Year
2019 National Blue Ribbon School
2019 National Terrel H. Bell Leadership Award