Tiger Creek Elementary
- Number of Students: 509
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 59.7%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 2.7%
- Percent of Special Education: 19.2%
- White: 90.1%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 4.5%
- Asian: 1.2%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.2%
- Multiracial: 2.9%
- Other: 0%
**Each section of the application has been updated to incoorporate the information requested, including artifacts from all questions or points for clarification.
Nestled by a rustling creek lies the best-kept secret in Georgia. Tiger Creek Elementary School is a Pre-K through 5th grade school located on the edge of Catoosa County. TCE is a loving, rural, school-community where every family is valued and all children are supported by master teachers, as they are challenged with high expectations. The demographics consist of 90% white and 59% economically disadvantaged students.
Becoming a Professional Learning Community (PLC) began with a small group attending the PLC conference during the summer of 2016 and returning to Tiger Creek with a desire for change. Our administrators knew our dedicated teachers and staff wanted what was best for all students and that collaboration on the most essential work was key. Our first steps began by building a shared understanding of school improvement needs specifically focusing on reading essential standards, data collection, and collaboration on how to move forward.
Our initial focus was on building capacity through our administrator’s and instructional coach’s meetings with the district leaders. These two groups of people were learning more about professional learning communities and redelivered their new knowledge helping teachers to become more familiar with the work of RTI/MTSS, guarding Tier 1 instruction, and providing a schedule to support Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction. Learning new vocabulary and adjusting our mindset about teaching was no easy task.
During 2017, we were slowly learning how to move forward and implementing intervention times throughout the week. In addition to the work at Tiger Creek our district was helping teachers understand the need for essential standards and answering the question “What is it we expect students to learn?” They facilitated collaboration with other grade-level teachers yet maintained the need for autonomy within each school.
During our grade-level meetings things began to change, we created norms, and started taking minutes about our data conversations. We also started talking more in depth about our benchmark/progress monitoring data as a team. This student data turned into a visual where we placed every student name in the school on a board color-coded for below grade-level, on watch, on grade-level, and above grade-level. Every time we took the assessments we were able to physically move students to their new level. We even had some students come in and move their own name to help them with motivation by showing them how much they had grown. This activity was a turning point in our learning process.
Throughout the year, our district leaders were invited to TCE to share the new changes with RtI/MTSS, monitoring interventions, and changing the misconceptions about academic referrals for special education. We learned more about being more intentional with our intervention time to work with students on closing gaps and re-teaching grade-level standards. This was an important distinction between intervening to collect data to prove the need for services and intervening to prevent the need for services. This mind-set change was a second turning point for our school. During the summer, teachers attended RtI at Work and PLC at Work conferences building an even higher capacity of the necessary process for student achievement.
In the fall of 2018, we began the hard work of using common assessments and data collection documents to monitor student progress in reading. We were just beginning the work of answering the second question of “How will we know if they learned it?” We were certain that our essential standards in reading had been selected, math essentials were being developed, and we were ready to move forward with common assessments. All of our teachers were working together, at their own pace to develop the assessments and determine how to help the students who were not proficient after the first attempt. The data profiles were created and shared electronically with the administration team, with a goal of all students being proficient before the end of the year. Our schedule had been solidified to ensure designated intervention times for reading and math. All students used intervention for reading each day as a time for remediation or enrichment to ensure our reading growth throughout the whole school. All of our Tier 3 Math students utilized designated intervention time each day as well.
The winter of that year turned out to be another pinnacle time for us. We went through drastic changes in our Tiger Creek family in the fall with staff changes and personal difficulties. It felt like we were running out of steam with the PLC process. We were still learning the ins and outs of being a professional learning community but planning had stalled for most. After much consideration, it was time to pause and look back at Learning By Doing to see how we should move forward. It seemed we needed a reason to move on in the process. Developing our mission, vision, and values was essential. First, we had a review of our student achievement reality at that time, as well as collaborating to really understand why being a professional learning community was important. Since then we have reviewed our mission statement, vision, and collective commitments three or four times each year. This year, we were able to solidify the true meaning of our collective commitments and recommit to them as a school. With our new theme of #TCEtogether we have verified that we are truly devoted to the mission of our school.
A guiding coalition was created, and the whole school provided input on the mission statement. Each suggestion that was shared was included in some part of our mission statement, vision, or collective commitments. Along with this new reason to move forward we truly started becoming a professional learning community. The PLC leaders met and did the book study from Muhammad on Transforming School Culture. Administrators worked with natural leaders to develop more distributed leadership, which helped improve school culture. A campaign started asking teachers “Is it good enough for them?” All faculty and staff came together with pictures of loved ones and we asked, “Is what happening at Tiger Creek Elementary good enough for your loved ones? If it is not, we need to change.”
On top of the cultural changes in our school, we also began looking at students and learning differently. We created our own time bomb video with pictures of our students who were below 36% on our benchmark assessments. Seeing those children that belonged to our school, changed our thinking. Common assessments were being created instead of found, and quick formative assessments were added to the teaching/learning cycle. Quickly, some teams realized that assessments were not completely aligned with the learning targets and teaching, so those were revamped. One of the biggest lessons learned came from the assessment seminar with Casandra Erkins, where grade-level partners began to see how creating these aligned assessments would benefit the students’ achievement. Answering the question “What will we do if they haven’t learned it?” became easier to answer and more exciting to plan.
So many lessons have been learned on the way about our personal learning as educators, how students learn, and how we can change what we do in the classroom to raise student achievement and the culture of our school. Vertical teams in reading and math met to determine if all of our essential standards were appropriate as a student moves through the grades. A concentrated effort to include our connections classes in the process was also achieved. conversations were had and through this collaboration the top essentials were solidified. Our music and PE classes have their own essential standards determined and broken into learning targets. They are also assessing and re-teaching on a regular basis. More importantly, our connection teachers are a vital part of teaching grade-level essential standards that they include in their instruction such as; math facts, spelling, fractions, states, and researching. In addition to helping students learn essential standards in their grade-level the connection teachers are also involved with Tier 2 and Tier 3 remediation through the scheduling of additional support and time for interventions outside of the regular classroom.
During the COVID pandemic our teachers fought through the difficult challenges of teaching digitally, while developing units of study for their essential standards. Collaboration continued through Google meetings and all units of study were developed before the end of the school year. This included all assessments being created, the curriculum maps being uploaded, and planning for the COVID slide in the fall. We are now in the middle of determining the best ways to help answer the question “What will we do if they already know it?” During our Tier 2 reteaching time, students will be learning essential standards and nice to know standards in a deeper way. Many of our grade-level teams are beginning to share their ideas and thinking “outside of the box.”
It took several years but Tiger Creek Elementary has completely moved from doing the work of PLC light to PLC right!
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
At Tiger Creek we believe that all students come into our school with a guarantee that they will receive a viable curriculum that ensures that every student will learn at the highest level. In order to meet the needs of our students, we use the Four Critical Questions of Learning to guide our instruction and monitor how our teaching is impacting student learning.
When we began the PLC process, we started with the first critical question: What do we want students to know and be able to do? Teachers aligned the curriculum with the Georgia Standards of Excellence. In each subject area, teachers chose essential standards for students to master in order to be successful in the following years. Teachers also met as vertical teams and evaluated each essential standard. After the essential standards were chosen, collaborative teams broke each standard apart to identify andcreate target goals and key vocabularythat students needed to master essential standards.
Once our school had developed and aligned our curriculum to the essential standards we were able to begin developing assessments to monitor student learning. This would allow us to answer the second critical question: How will we know if students have learned?In order to monitor student learning effectively, teachers created common formative and summative assessments collaboratively to analyze data and plan further instruction for their students. Within the assessments, teachers have identified learning targets that students must master. Collaborative teams create profiles and reflect on their teaching practices throughout the unit to ensure that the unit is successfully helping students learn.When analyzing data, teachers document which exact learning targets students are struggling with and the targets they have mastered. Student learning is being monitored daily through teacher observations and data analysis. Teachers use the information they are collecting to drive their instruction. Teachers are also constantly reflecting on and revising teaching practices and common formative assessments to see how they can be changed or if they are working well.
In order to best help our students, we begin collecting and analyzing data the first day we walk into school. Teachers review students prior attendance, behavior, and academic performance to analyze how the students have performed in the past. These practices have been especially important this year using the “Flash back/Flash forward” process due to the COVID pandemic. Once the school year begins, teachers administer pre-assessments that highlight the essential standards that students were to meet in their previous grade level. This allows teachers to know that students are coming to their grade level knowing the prerequisite skills needed to master current grade level standards. Teachers analyze and use this data to fill in gaps that students have in their learning. Teachers also assess phonics knowledge, reading levels, and fact fluency to determine where students need additional help and enrichment.
Collaboration is key to meeting the needs of all of our students. Teachers are working together daily to monitor student learning and use the information to guide instruction. Teachers analyze student work and assessments to determine who has not learned the essential standard and who has reached mastery. This is when collaborative teams answer the last two critical questions: “How will we respond if students have not learned?” and “How will we respond if students have already learned?” If a student has not learned the essential standard they are put in a tier 2 reteaching group. Error analysis is used to place students in appropriate groups to target their specific needs at the time. If a student has reached mastery, they are given an enrichment activity to extend their learning. This can be a nice to know standard or going deeper/higher with application of the essential standard. Our teachers work collaboratively to plan remediation and enrichment activities to meet the needs of all of our students. Once groups have been developed, teachers share students among the grade level to provide the needed support and extension. Some of the teachers will focus on the remediation while the others will focus on providing enrichment. Further testing will be administered to the tier 2 students to monitor their progression to meeting mastery of grade level essential standards. Teachers also collaborate with team members at least twice a week to review data, go over best practices, and create/revise unit plans and assessments for instruction. All of the instructional planning materials as well as data and profiles are uploaded into a grade-level Google Drive folder for easy access among the school when needed.
In addition to addressing the 4 critical questions daily with our students concerning the essential standards, we keep a close eye on our progress monitoring to determine if our students need even more support. At Tiger Creek we previously used a universal screener called STAR that assesses students' math and reading abilities. The assessment was given 5 times throughout the year. The data from this assessment, as well as data teachers have collected, are used to help determine whether a child needs tier 3 intervention or not. STAR testing also would show if the current interventions being used where positively affecting student growth. We use several types of interventions to help monitor student learning and progress. In reading, K-3 students use a program called Lexia to fill in reading gaps. In grades 4-5, students use a program called Reading Plus that helps with fluency and reading comprehension. Math interventions are very similar. In grades K-2, students use a program called Dreambox. In grades 3-5, students use a program called iReady. All of these interventions are geared toward each individual students’ needs and gives teachers direct feedback on what each child needs in order to show growth. Our early intervention teachers also pullout or push to work with students based on STAR or other assessments used to determine specific skills of need. These times for “in-person” and “on-program” interventions are built into the master schedule and protected the same way Tier 1 instruction is protected.
Students at Tiger Creek also take ownership of their own learning. Students are well informed and understand the learning targets for each essential standard. Teachers throughout our building review the target goals and success criteria needed to show mastery of each standard throughout the instruction of each unit. Last year, students began collecting their own data in a personal data notebook. They graph, analyze, and reflect on their own data and determine where they need to keep working. When students are taking their assessments, students are able to see the target goals and know if they are mastering each one. The students know that if they meet their target goals, they will have mastered the standard. Our students are not discouraged or upset when they have not shown mastery of a standard yet. They understand that they will get more support and opportunities to show mastery again. Our students also know that once they have mastered the standard, they get to participate in enrichment activities that go beyond the standard or be taught a completely new one. In the Fall and Spring, our students enjoy showing their progress in their data notebook with parents at a Data Lunch and Data Dinner. This is an opportunity for parents to be a part of the analyzing and monitoring of their own child’s learning. The parents and students work together to come up with learning goals based on the data collected in each child’s data notebook. Some of the data includes: STAR assessments, Guided Reading levels, fact fluency scores, and graded summative assessments. Not only are our teachers using the Four Critical Questions to guide instruction, but our students are learning to use them to monitor their own progress as well.
While teachers spend a great deal of time monitoring student learning, there are also other supportive personnel in the building who are analyzing and monitoring students. We have a Student Intervention Team (SIT) that meets monthly to monitor the academic progress of students in the building. They specifically look at students who are receiving tier 3 instruction. Team members include principals, academic coaches, school psychologists, counselors, special education teachers, and any specialists that need to be involved. The team meets to discuss if students are showing growth. They look at classroom, STAR, and intervention data to track students’ progress. There are also many other factors that they take into consideration when discussing each child such as attendance, medical history, and demographic data. In these meetings they monitor student learning and make decisions about whether a student needs further academic testing. They also monitor to see if an intervention is working to help fill in the learning gaps a student has.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
In becoming a PLC school, Tiger Creek Elementary School developed a shared vision to create a process for grade level teams, SIT teams, administration, and our academic coach to work together in analyzing data on all students to ensure they are served with an intervention based on the trends and gaps evident in their individual data. Our goal is to work collaboratively to analyze student data serving our students based on their individual needs through intervention and enrichment. During this process is where we focus on the PLC questions “What do we do if the students do not achieve mastery?” and “What do we do if the students already know it?”
At the beginning of the school year, each student is assessed through a universal screener and pre-assessments. In the past, our school and district used CBM and STAR. Currently, our school and district use MAP to gather data and information about each student. The grade-level teams along with interventionists and special education teachers, look at the data and group students based on their needs into guided reading and math small groups for Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction. Tier 3 instruction is also reviewed during these meetings. Teachers work with each small group to give intensive instruction based on their needs from the universal screener.
Data is also presented at weekly meetings from common formative assessments, summative assessments and benchmark assessments. Once these assessments are given, grade level teams meet twice a week to analyze the trends and gaps related to target goals for a specific essential standard. During these weekly meetings grade levels collaborate on ways to intervene/enrich their lessons and teaching strategies to better fit our student’s needs based on their data.
For tier 1 intervention, grade levels meet to discuss and analyze data that comes straight from common formative assessments as well as summative assessments. These assessments are uniform throughout the grade level as well as the grading process. After going over student answers on the assessments, grade level teams develop a system of re-teaching/enrichment which sometimes can involve swapping students based on their needs. Teachers provide additional time and support for intervention and extension in a variety of ways.
For tier 2 intervention, our school SIT team (Student Intervention Team) meets monthly to look over student’s academic and behavioral growth. The student benchmark scores, assessment data, intervention progress, progress monitoring data, and classroom performance are analyzed to adjust student interventions if needed. This team is made up of county office officials, academic coaches, EIP representatives, Sped representatives, administration, and supporting faculty. The team’s goal is to monitor tier 2 students receiving intervention services to make sure students are progressing and showing growth over the course of receiving the intervention. During this time the SIT team works collaboratively with the classroom teacher to provide support and direction to help guide these students in the right direction academically and/or revisit intervention if the students are not progressing.
This system of interventions is how Tiger Creek Elementary is progressing toward the shared vision of working together to serve students with interventions/enrichments based on their data using benchmark assessments, common formative assessments and summative assessments.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Tiger Creek has always been known as a place where teachers care about students and each other. We support each other personally and professionally through struggles and successes. We have always had a spirit of cooperation and collaboration rather than competition. But until we learned the PLC process, and despite our good intentions, we were mostly collaborative teams that planned together by sharing ideas, sharing resources, and sharing the load. Now, after implementing the PLC process, we share our students and the responsibility of their success as well.
When we first started the process of sharing responsibility for student achievement we realized we need a common time that would allow us to group students according to their needs. Seeing this need, our administrators built the Extended Learning Time (ELT) block into our schedules. This practice provided ELT time, and our common planning time finally allowed us to take collective ownership of our students. As a result of the common planning and regular data analysis from common formative assessments our efforts became clearly focused on student performance and achievement.
All employees in the building to include teachers, the school counselor, paraprofessionals, janitors, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, any student interns we have, the academic coach, and administrators have a role in supporting student achievement through the PLC process. A veteran teacher that is newer to our school has commented many times, “I’ve never worked at a school where students were OUR students not just MY students.” This schoolwide sense of collective responsibility has been powerful in supporting OUR students in the PLC process.
During Power Team meetings roles were assigned and norms were established as our academic coach led us through developing common formative assessments and analyzing results. The agenda for Power Team meetings, that was at first set by the academic coach, is now being developed by the grade level facilitator. This is building teachers’ capacity to work as a collaborative team on the vital work they need to do for students. Teachers keep data in notebooks and shared folders on Google drive for each common formative assessment along with the results. This data is analyzed as a team to determine the next steps moving forward. During Power Team meetings intervention data and progress monitoring is reviewed to determine if students are moving in the right direction and next steps are then determined by the team. The goal is for teachers to feel safe in Power Team meetings as they are sharing and receiving any information from the team that may help improve student achievement. Our school SIT team takes it one step forward by reviewing this data in depth to monitor student progress and determine further actions.
In the fall of 2019 we began Lunch and Learn and Data Nights twice a year. This was a time for parents to come into Tiger Creek for a meal and for teachers and students to share data with the parents. We were able to get all of these meetings completed with fall and winter data before school closed in March. At the meetings parents/guardians were provided with the benchmark assessment scores from fall and winter. They were then able to compare the scores and see any growth or regression. They were shown their child’s data notebook. After reviewing the data parents and the student then worked together to determine 2 goals to work on. Standards based activities were provided to take home that were designed to support classroom learning. Surveys were filled out by participants and almost all the results were positive. Many one-on-one conferences and Student Support Team Meetings were also held outside of these events. As a result teachers, parents, and students were well focused and actively working together toward a common goal of improving student learning. Teachers are now working with each other as high performing collaborative teams, and also building capacity and empowering students and parents to be a part of the process of achieving our mission: Always Learning, Always Safe and Positive, Always Supporting Others.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
The "TCE Star data 2016-2020" document was added to address the need for more data. The upward trend during each academic year is evident in the chart. There are multiple considerations for fluctuations in scores from year to year. First, prior to beginning the work of professional learning communities there was a practice of moving teachers to different grade-levels each year to fill vacancies or adjust the dynamics of the teams. Once the PLC work was better understood this frequent movement of teachers was stopped and strong teams were developed over time. In addition, in the first few years of professional learning communities we had teachers who left Tiger Creek to pursue other schools/districts who were not working as a PLC. These staff flucuations have ended and each team has been working in the same grade-level for multiple years. We have experienced a tremendous amount of growth within the school directed specifically to our mission of student learning. Each grade-level team within this school has also come to a complete understanding of the teaching-learning-data collecting process in their own time. They are answering the 4 key questions better and better each time we meet and the essential standard data that is documented is proof of this growth. The last consideration for fluctuating scores is the testing platforms that are used each year. These assessments show the growth throughout the year but each year the student begins the assessment on their current grade-level, leaving them with a considerablly low score at the beginning of the year. Scaled scores generally show more immediate proof of growth over time than the actual perecentages. All of these factors explain the flucuation and continued learning of a professional learning community.
2018-2019 PBIS Emerging School
2016-2019 5-Star Climate Rating
2017-2018 Hope Award for ELA -Students with Disabilities