Coulson Tough K-6 School

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

The work of Professional Learning Communities began at Coulson Tough 6 years ago.  We started by doing a book study, but really became vested and built momentum in the work after attending a PLC at Work Summer Institute. It was during the institute, while listening to Rick DuFour, that we became excited and motivated to truly impact our campus for our students. We returned home from the institute in San Antonio eager to engage our staff in beginning the work together.  

Our school was already a high performing campus by state assessment measures.  We had all of our state distintinctions, our scores were some of the highest in the state, but were we really doing the right work?  When we had several crucial conversations together and looked at our high population of English Language Learners as well as our unique special education programs, we realized ‘all’ didn’t really look like all at our school. Our data showed that there were not only differences amongst populations, there were large differences between teachers on a grade level.  So, we worked to uncover areas where we knew we could become better. 

We really dug into our motto, mission, and vision and realized many of the staff members didn’t know what these were or what we were really about as a school.  The critical work to change this lack of focus involved the whole staff and took us a couple of years.  We conducted small group teacher meetings, sent out and studied the results of a variety of surveys, spent time in discussion with teams, and looked at data in different ways. We realized our staff needed to know and believe the direction we were going was best for all students.  We wanted them to become the loudest cheerleaders for our school and our work. Our work on our motto, mission, and vision ended up kickstarting and framing our PLC work ever since.

We changed our motto first. We wanted it to be a reflection of what we are really about. Rick DuFour put it best in saying that our motto should be something our staff, parents and students know and become excited about.  We created our new motto- Learn.Grow.Excel.  We have it posted everywhere in the school and even use it as our attention signal in all K-6 grade levels.  It’s on our doormats, it’s on the walls of every classroom, our newsletters, and even our new school logo.  Any staff member in the building can say “Learn, Grow” and the children respond “Excel!” It’s wonderful to see how they get excited about it too! We want this to be engrained in our subconscious as we work together to live it out. 

Next came work on our mission. We read the book Mindset by Carol Zwick and even taught the concepts to our students.  We realized perhaps we needed to change our own mindset at times as well.  Then, after attending the next summer’s PLC conference and feeling the inspiration and passion which comes from doing the right work, we dug in and changed our mission.  We worked diligently to ensure that our mission shows what we believe, what we do at our campus right now and every day.  Our new mission became: Guaranteed exceptional learning and growth for all students.  This is who we are and what we promise our students, parents, and our community.  It reflects the work in changing our thinking to “we" over "me." Our talk is about "our students" instead of "my students" and it shows by the way we work together.  There were many hard and difficult conversations we had to have as a staff, but I have loved watching the passion of our teachers and staff members come out during these times.  It has been through collaborative, ‘big picture,’ goal minded work like this that we began to not only understand one another, but also value one another for our shared passion so much more. 

Once our new motto and mission were in place, we then felt we needed to change our vision too so that it reflects the work we truly aspire to.  Our vision became: To be globally recognized as a professional learning community that provides excellence in academic, cultural and character education and prepares K-6 students to be positive leaders in a 21st century world.  Over the past 6 years, we have continued to bring teams of teachers to the summer PLC Institutes, each year we grow in our knowledge of how we can continue to ensure all of our students are learning at the highest levels possible. 

Now, we make all of our decisions through the lens of our mission and our vision, weighing all choices to ensure they truly meet these criteria.  It's how we do business at Coulson Tough.  The first item on our agenda at each team meetings is to review our motto, mission and vision, helping us to keep focused on what we strive for at our school.   Anyone could ask a staff member at any time what our motto, mission and vision are and they can not only tell you what they are, they will give you the ‘why’ behind who we are and what we do. Our staff members light up as they talk about our school and what we believe in for all of our students.  Our staff is so proud of the school we have become over the past 6 years. Evidence of this pride and ownership is most evident on our interview committee where the group of staff members that volunteer to serve on this team creates questions carefully crafted to ask potential candidates to best assess the important qualities we look for to support our motto, mission, and vision in order to join our Coulson Tough family.  

In looking back, we have grown considerably in the way we work.  We have created meaningful teams versus groups of teachers, constantly reinforcing that each member is important and valued for the knowledge and expertise they bring to their collaborative teacher teams. We have dug deep into the systems which excel our students in academics, character, and culture.  We have become a High Reliability Level 1 & Level 2 certified school this past year and are currently in the work for Level 3.  We have systems in place to monitor the safety, collaborative culture, effective teaching practices and exceptional curriculum at our school.  When our collaborative teacher teams work together, they focus on the 4 Essential Questions.  What do we expect our students to learn? (Goals/Expectations) How will we know they are learning? (Assessment) How will we respond when they don't learn? (Intervention) and How will we respond if they already know it? (Gifted). Our collaborative teacher teams are focused on the right work. 

We love that we have become the type of campus where not only other schools in our district, but also schools outside our district visit to see best practices. We even hosted learning walks with administrators from Germany recently who were looking to gain insights from our processes and procedures to take back to the work at their schools.  We are continual learners in every area, accepting one another for where we are in our journey in different areas and then helping one another grow through professional development and coaching.  Together, through collaborative teams and a collaborative culture, we will continue to all Learn. Grow. & Excel. in all we do at Coulson Tough. 





1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

In order to monitor student progress, we start by collaborating to identify and unpack our TEKS, review our district scope and sequence, analyze our curriculum, and create meaningful lessons, interventions, and extensions for our students. Once strong instruction is in place, we then constantly and consistently track student data.  Assessments that provide data on student progress include: classroom teacher’s anecdotal notes, grade level common assessments, district assessments, as well as state assessments. This creates a daily, weekly, and quarterly cycle of student monitoring and responsive instruction, intervention, and extension. 

Daily, teachers meet with students in small groups or conferences. Teachers track student progress during small groups or conferences using anecdotal records of their interactions based on proficiency scales. Teachers use this data to form fluid small groups and determine the skills to target in those groups. 

Weekly, teachers use common formative assessments such as exit tickets and quick writes to track student progress based on mastery of a TEK or skill. Teacher teams meet weekly as a PLC to review new student data, evaluate if the interventions/extensions planned provide the supports needed, and develop further supports if necessary. 

Quarterly, teachers track student progress using grade level common assessments as well as district assessments. Teacher teams meet with the administration team and the campus instructional coach after district testing windows to review student data and determine if further discussion to provide more targeted and intense interventions are needed through the RTI collaboration team.

In addition to this cycle, the campus instructional coach also tracks student data across years by reviewing end of year state assessment and skill assessment data with beginning of year skill assessment data. This tracking monitors for unusual gaps or dips in student progress from grade to grade to prepare responsive supports for the summer and/or beginning of year. 

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

The OUR students rather than YOUR students mindset on our campus is most visible in systems of interventions in our 3 tiered RTI model.

Our interventions start with tier 1 instruction in the classroom with the student’s classroom teacher. We believe that providing the best tier 1 instruction possible is the best intervention. We work on building and refining tier 1 practices constantly through campus wide professional development, content specific professional development, choice workshops, instructional rounds, coaching cycles, and book studies such as this year’s campus wide book study, The Art and Science of Teaching. We believe that the workshop instructional model allows us to implement these tier 1 best practices with the most consistency and effectiveness. As a workshop campus, much of a student’s academic day is spent in small groups which allows us to meet individual student’s instructional needs. Teachers use student and classroom data to form flexible groupings based on student need. They then set student growth goals and track students’ progress. Teacher teams meet weekly to review data and collaborate on strategies/lessons/supports to help students reach their growth goals. Teams also collaborate with the campus instructional coach, district coaches, the school LSSP and counselor to strengthen tier 1 instruction. Our goal is to provide the best tier 1 instruction so that there is less need for RTI tier 2 and 3 interventions.

However, if a student does not reach the growth goal, we then move to tier 2 interventions to target reteaching of essential grade level skills during the student’s small group time. At tier 2, the content team and the RTI committee (administrator, counselor, LSSP, and instructional coach) work as the RTI collaboration team to review student data and make a plan for more intensive intervention such as meeting more frequently or in a smaller group with their classroom teacher or possibly receiving intervention instruction with another teacher on the team based on teacher data for the targeted skill. Teachers are able to achieve this by sharing other groups of students. The school counselor, LSSP, and instructional coach work with the teacher providing the RTI tier 2 intervention to provide supports and resources.

If progress towards the goal is not made in 3-6 weeks of tier 2 interventions, the RTI collaboration team meets again to determine if different tier 2 interventions or if RTI tier 3 interventions are needed, preferably during their small group time, but possibly during another time of the day carefully chosen not to overlap with the teaching of other essential grade level standards. RTI tier 3 interventions provide teaching/reteaching of below grade level skills and includes 1-on-1 intervention instruction with either the classroom teacher by providing the teacher push in support or smaller group instruction with an interventionist. The school counselor, LSSP, and instructional coach again provide the staff providing intervention supports and resources and student progress is closely monitored. 

If progress towards the goal is not achieved within 3-6 weeks, the classroom teacher and RTI collaboration team meet again to discuss different interventions or possible referral for testing. 



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

At Coulson Tough our mission is: Guaranteed exceptional learning and growth for all students.  For us, this means all of the staff work together to make this happen every day.  Our students learning and growth is why we are here! Therefore, we make time to work together for our students a priority. 

Each day, grade level collaborative content teams, as well as our fine arts/pe collaborative team, are able to have common time together. These teacher teams have 60 minutes a day of collaboration time together.  Schedules for our special education teachers who work in co-teach settings are also carefully planned so that they can work with the general education teachers in the grade levels they support. Teams work together to unpack the state standards, review the scope and sequence, analyze our curriculum, and create meaningful lessons, interventions, and extensions for our students collaboratively.  They continually use their Common Formative Assessments (CFA's) unit by unit to improve their practice by analyzing their data from these assessments as well as district created benchmarks.  When they find areas where a team mate has students who have excelled or out performed in an area, they share how they taught the lesson or concept.  Often times our teachers will co-teach together or watch one another with embedded PD to improve their ability to teach the concept.  Our collaborative teacher teams celebrate one another and the environment isn't a competitive one, but one where all teachers are growing and learning from each another to be their best for all students. All collaborative teams stay focused on the 4 Critical Questions to meet the needs of every child at Coulson Tough. 

Teachers begin the school year in August with time dedicated to creating their team plan.  Staff members work together to set their team norms and commitments to one another.  They assign responsibilities for their time together.  They have time to get to know one another personally and professionally.  Teammates share their professional goals for the year during this time.  We have found when our teams invest in this time together, they are better able to continue working as high functioning teams all year. 

We dedicate time for professional development during our Titan’s Teach sessions each Wednesday for an hour after school. We utilize this important time together throughout the entire school year to have professional book study, meet for vertical alignment by content, review progress toward campus and content goals, and to provide campus wide professional development to our staff.  

We have also utilized teacher leaders to serve on our our campus school wide. Our Core Team is made up of members from each grade level and department area on the campus.  The Core Team is responsible for looking at campus data, best practices, and research to set our school wide campus goals.  Our team focuses on practices and procedures which are found to be best for the whole school.  Examples of this include CHAMPS & Foundations from Safe & Civil Schools. Other examples of our work together include work toward our certifications as a High Reliability School.  This dedicated team meets every other week after school and several times a year for a full day. They also attend conferences together throughout the school year and in the summer to continually grow.

Our Coulson Tough Selection & Welcome Team is a school wide team whose main goal is to hire and retain the highest caliber of team members for our school.  Our work is grounded in the book The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni and instructional best practices such as those from Units of Study and The New Art and Science of Teaching.  We have a unique process which has assisted us in finding candidates who also believe in our mission and vision.  

Our Coulson Tough Behavior Team is a school wide team whose main goal is to assist teams with student behaviors which require additional supports.  Teachers are able to meet with this collaborative team to gain assistance with meeting students emotional and behavioral needs.  

All staff members at Coulson Tough are committed to our motto, mission and vision.  The decisions made must support our mission and vision.  Our core values of compassion, character, community, and commitment enhance our mission and vision for our school. This enables us to ensure all of our students Learn. Grow & Excel. at Coulson Tough!   


Achievement Data Files

Certified High Reliability School Level 1 

Certified High Reliability School Level 2

A+ Rating by Niche School Rankings 

A+ Rating by Texas Schools Guide

Great Schools- Rated 10/10

2019 Texas Accountability Rating- A

2019 State Distinctions:

  • Academic Achievement in Mathematics
  • Top 25% Closing Achievement Gaps

 2018 Texas Accountability Rating- Met Standard (Rating of an A, if ratings were given this year) 

  • Met Standard Overall Scaled Score 93 out of 100
  • Met Standard Student Achievement 94 out of 100
  • Met Standard School Progress 88 out of 100
  • Met Standard Closing the Achievement Gaps 89 out of 100

 2017 Texas Accountability Rating- Met Standard

2017 State Distinctions

  • Top 25% Closing Performance Gaps

2016 Texas Accountability Rating- Met Standard

2016 State Distinctions

  • Top 25% Closing Performance Gaps
  • Postsecondary Readiness

Destination Imagination: 

  • 2015- Two teams- 1st place at Regionals, two teams- State Competition
  • 2016- Two teams- 1st place at Regionals, two teams- State Competition, one team competed at World Globals
  • 2017- Two teams- 1st place at Regionals, three teams- State Competition, one team competed at World Globals 
  • 2018- Two teams-1st at Regionals, two teams- State Competition, one team competed at World Globals 
  • 2019- Three teams went to Regionals 
  • 2020- One team placed at Regionals, one team- State Competition, one team competed at World Globals 

2019- ExploraVision First Place Regional & National Winner

2015-Lego League Robotics Regionals Teamwork Award

2016- Google Expeditions Virtual Reality Voyager Program Recipient 

2017- Ozobot Grant Recipient

2018- Google Expeditions Augmented Reality Voyager Program Recipient 

2018- Sphero Grant Recipient

2019- 3D printer from XYZ Printers Grant Recipient

2019- Lego League Robotics Qualifier 2nd Place Core Values 

2014-2020- Sterling Ridge Village Association Grant Recipient

2020- Lego League Robotics Regionals First Place Project 

2020- Lego League Robotics Regionals First Placer Core Values Inspiration