Monticello Middle School
- Number of Students: 454
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 51.76%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0.66%
- Percent of Special Education: 8.15%
- White: 58.15%
- Black: 36.34%
- Hispanic: 4.41%
- Asian: 0.9%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0.2%
- Other: 0%
Monticello Middle School has undergone a tremendous transformation with the implementation of professional learning communities. While the focus on learning previously utilized data to drive instructional practices, practices at MMS yielded inconsistent results based upon student achievement data. Work was oftentimes done in isolation and student assessment results varied year to year.
In the fall of the 2017-18 school year, delivery of staff-wide professional development on the guiding principles and foundations of PLCs. Throughout the first year, ongoing staff development focused on a thorough understanding of the concepts of these principles and creating a common language that was shared by all. The professional development consisted of teams of teachers that focus on PLC procedures and concepts of effective content training. This school-wide training would create common knowledge and language that would be shared amongst all staff and faculty members. In order to change the culture of our school to one of continuous improvement, this groundwork had to be established. Six tight elements were established and agreed upon by staff members. We all agreed that all work would be developed interdependently, centered upon a guaranteed and viable curriculum that drives instruction and assessments, as well as informs decision-making (see appendix 13 - tight elements). These were elements in which we would hold each other accountable for to drive improvement in student achievement and a common collaborative culture in our school. The tight elements would drive our transformation into a true PLC school. Our staff made giant strides, in the development of tight elements, to create a common culture that placed student learning as the priority that drives decision-making, and were agreed upon by all staff members.
Changes were also made to the guiding coalition, Building Level Leadership Team (BLT), during the first year. As a school, we realized that not every content team was being represented on BLT. These teachers felt as though they were being left out of the PLC process as a whole due to them being singleton teachers who taught grades 6-8 as well. They didn’t fit with a content team and struggled to find their place in grade-level teams as well. They came together to form the Fine Arts/Business Ed content team. The team consists of Art, Band, Choir, Health/PE, Family and Consumer Science, and Business Education teachers. Once this team was formed and a position established on the BLT, the teachers began to feel like their voices mattered in the school and could bring their unique skill sets to help in driving student achievement.
Focus was placed on the creation of a Vision and Mission that would be shared by faculty and staff to guide the work of all team members. Previously, the school Mission statement was very lengthy and full of words many staff members could not define. This resulted in unfocused efforts with everyone believing that what he or she was doing was right. The BLT took on the task of beginning to build the Mission and Vision statement. Each member brought to the table what their teams felt reflected the changes the school was making with the PLC grant. Together they crafted a Mission and Vision statement that was brought to the whole school (faculty and staff) to be voted on. Everyone felt like these statements could be supported by everyone and would also help hold each other accountable. These statements unified the staff and became what our staff would live by. Clear understanding of SMART goals began to take shape and were centered upon the Vision and Mission of the school(Appendix 14).
During the first year, support was provided for the English/Language Arts and Math content teams . Through this process, our focus on delivering a viable curriculum has been magnified ten-fold by understanding how to identify essential skills within these areas and supporting relevant student learning at the appropriate levels. Revision of team practices to collaboratively focus on student learning in this manner has empowered teachers of these teams to have conversations that are rich and meaningful. This has made a significant impact on driving teacher decisions regarding instruction and student learning. These teams were then able to share what they learned with other content teams.
The following year, emphasis upon our interventions was a key element in our transformation. Through this process, our staff was able to identify key components that distinguished the different levels of support to provide students when learning expectations weren’t met. This was a big “ah-ha” moment for the guiding coalition team. The realization that we were not providing the extra support for each student to be successful was a punch in the gut and we knew changes needed to be made. By the end of the year, collaborative efforts resulted in the revision of our RtI process being able to provide timely interventions to students in need based upon formative data while also providing extensions and enrichments for those that were proficient. Plans were put in place for the 2019-2020 school year to revamp our schedule to provide students with an enrichment/intervention period two days a week. This would take coordination of every content team and support staff. Additional support was provided to the Science content team to support student growth in state-wide assessments, and the guiding coalition team received ongoing leadership training through professional development.
The 2019-20 year has placed a focus on assessment development. With this process, our content teams have honed skills which has enabled their teams to look at assessment through critical lens in collaborative settings while having ongoing dialogue about viable curriculum, instruction, and interventions. Teachers began using different instructional and assessment methods and began to see transformation amongst their students and their own instruction. Focus upon realignment of our master schedule to provide instructional strategies that are; based upon a viable curriculum, driven by data, formatively assessed, and focused upon timely interventions. These changes have resulted in the calibration of team agendas that reflect focused discussions that were organized and highly effective.
MMS staff has made enormous gains in identifying deficiencies and concerns that affect student learning school-wide, and has transformed their culture into a true professional learning community as evidenced by the collaborative efforts made by all. Evidence of continuous growth supports the hard work and collaborative efforts of our professional learning community making us a good candidate for consideration as a Model School.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
The implementation of Professional Learning Community foundations enabled us to create the solid content teams that were supported with job-embedded professional development within content areas. This process enabled teams to look at relevant data about student learning. Our teams previously used some data to drive instruction at different levels. The job-embedded professional development allowed all teachers to get on the same page with the data and how it could be used to drive instructional practices, identification of essential learning skills, implementation of these identified skills, and assessments. English and Math content teams developed unit maps based around the essential skills of each content with the assistance of professional development. These unit maps work like a road map for current teachers and any new teachers that may join the PLC (appendix 2- English Unit Map and appendix 4- Math Unit Map). Teachers are able to guide their instruction with the unit maps, gather data on student learning in the process with common formative assessments, and identify students who need the extra support or enrichments. This information is shared with staff in order to surround the student with all supports necessary to help them be successful. The maps are not a stagnant document. They are a living, breathing document that can be changed to fit the needs of the students.
During the first year, support was provided by Solution Tree consultants in the English/Language Arts and Math content teams . Through this process, our focus on delivering a viable curriculum has been magnified ten-fold by understanding how to identify essential skills within these areas and supporting relevant student learning at the appropriate levels. Revision of team practices to collaboratively focus on student learning in this manner has empowered teachers of these teams to have conversations that are rich and meaningful. This has made a significant impact on driving teacher decisions regarding instruction and student learning. Time was also made within the schedule for these content teams to meet on a weekly basis to ensure there was a viable curriculum that was assessed and analyzed by all content members. These teams were able to share what they learned with other teams that did not receive the extra support. Further alignment of these teams has placed an emphasis upon the master schedule to include the sixth grade content members for the 2020-21 school year to include common content planning time for all grades.
Appendix 1-Essential Skills - English
Appendix 2- Unit Maps -English
Appendix 3- Essential Skills - Math
Appendix 4- Unit Map - Math
Describe the strategies your school (district) uses to monitor student learning on a timely basis. (Recommended word count is 150–500.
Appendix 5- CFA - English
Appendix 6- CFA - Math
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Building intervention time previously existed, but not like it exists now. Previously only certain teachers would provide intervention time with a few students and no enrichments were offered. Teachers’ concerns about students’ learning needs were unorganized and not communicated collaboratively in a timely manner. PLCs enabled MMS to develop a system of data collection, interventions, and collaboration that is organized in a manner that holds us all accountable to meeting the needs of all students.
Beginning in year two, ongoing professional development continued to support core content teachers through aligning essential skills and informing instructional practices. In addition, training included RtI at Work principles that transformed the way teachers understand the tiered interventions (RtI Pyramid) and how to meet students’ needs. Focus was placed on aligning interventions and extensions within our existing schedule. To make these changes, it would require participation for every faculty and staff member. The Fine Arts/Business Ed team stepped up to be leaders on making these logistical changes needed. A schedule was made to plan out the time and changes for the interventions and enrichments (see Appendix 7). Content teams would analyze their student data from CFAs to determine which students would need extra support for the 2-3 week time frame (see Appendix 9 for Literacy data and Appendix 11 for Math). The names of these students needed for interventions were sent to the Fine Arts/Business Ed team members for them to start placing students in classes. Collaborative efforts through our PLC, more opportunities for extensions and enrichments were created. The students who were not needed for an intervention, would be placed in an enrichment class. These classes ranged from Book Club to Creative Writing. The enrichment classes would take on the bulk of the students in order for students to receive Tier 2 interventions. This also provided an opportunity for students to receive Fine Arts instruction that is required by the state, but students were unable to fit into their schedule previously (Appendix 12-Fine Arts Roster). Students needing interventions were checked to verify that Fines Arts requirements were met in the regular scheduled day so this didn't interfere with intervention time. Tier 2 interventions were examined by content teams to see if students were making progress. Students who were still struggling after multiple rounds of Tier 2 Intervention were evaluated for further Tier 3 interventions and screening for more serious deficits (see Appendix 10).
Appendix 7- The Fine Arts/Business Ed team were the driving team behind the development of the schedule. They handle scheduling all students every 2-3 weeks for the 7th and 8th grade. This is the schedule for the students
Appendix 11- Intervention Data - Math
Appendix 12- Fine Arts Rosters
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Team dynamics play a vital role in results found to be present in highly functional professional learning communities here at MMS. Close attention should be considered when developing teams and assigning roles within these teams. A strong leader should be assigned to each team who is able to maintain focus and encourage participation from every member. Agendas should reflect established norms that ensure meetings are being conducted with fidelity, and mutual respect and value is shared among its members. Accountability for success should be shared equally among the members of each team. SMART goals should be established and reviewed through completion as reflected in minutes of team meetings. These goals should be monitored, shared, and celebrated with all staff on a scheduled basis as indicated in the school calendar.
Strong effective leaders are crucial to the success of professional learning communities at MMS and within the district. Leaders should provide clear guidance and communicate clearly goals and directions with staff. Tight elements are supported by leadership by holding everyone accountable to decisions made in school initiatives (Appendix 13-Tight Elements). Participatory leadership is highly recommended in making school decisions that involve learning at all levels to create ownership of programs and initiatives. Leadership academies and training should be provided for school leaders consisting of both administrative personnel and leadership team members that guide other teams.
The large-scale adjustments include redefining the purpose of the Building Leadership Team (BLT), the team now meets on a frequent basis, collaboratively makes campus-wide decisions, and holds themselves and others accountable to those decisions. These decisions include; common format of unit plans, process for essential skill identification and assessment calendars, student selection process for intervention and extension support, team agenda format, and expectations of team commitments and meeting norms. In addition, the 6th grade team previously had its own master schedule which has been adjusted to closely align with the 7th and 8th team’s master schedule making collaboration possible with fewer constraints. There is more frequency for content and grade level teams to collaborate and next year that frequency will significantly increase for the content teams because the school has taken a totally new approach to the framework of the master schedule that will provide common conference periods by department.
Appendix 13-Tight Elements
Appendix 14-Mission and Vision statement
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Monticello Middle School has shown significant growth in the past three years upon implementation of PLC practices. Specifically, this growth has shown increases where systematic changes have occured within: scheduling of common planning, interventions, and identifying the needs of students at each level. Due to the variations in how sixth grade was shceduled in comparison to the seventh/eighth grade, growth in the sixth grade has not been as significant as the seventh and eith grade. During the past year, changes were put in place to provide interventions and practices within the sixth grade that are aligned with the seventh and eighth grades. Additionally, our school has begun to have conversations with lower grade level schools to identify the needs of these children prior to their sixth grade year in order to meet individual needs. Implementation of PLCs has made a significant impact based upon the data reflected and these changes will enable our school to provide consistency throughout all three grades.
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2019- High Overall Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region)
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2019-High ELA Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2018- High Overall Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region)
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2018-High ELA Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2017-High Overall Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region)
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2017-High Math Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region)
Outstanding Educational Performance Awards 2017-High ELA Growth: Middle Level (Southeast Region)
ESSA Report Card- B School Distinction 2018 and 2019
3rd in the Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Regional 4A tournament
Nominated as Anti-defamation league "No Place for Hate" - three consecutive years
110% increase of MMS students qualifying for all-regions band