Wilkeson Elementary (2023)
- Number of Students: 274
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 24%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1.45%
- Percent of Special Education: 12.1%
- White: 81%
- Black: 5%
- Hispanic: 7%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 2%
- Multiracial: 3%
- Other: 0%
Wilkeson Elementary was built in 1913 among the evergreens at the foot of Mt. Rainier. Today, our charming historic building is one of the oldest schools still in operation in Washington State. This century-old gem is an ideal setting for learning, as shown here. While the school is rich in history, it has yet to be locked in time. In 2017, the building underwent extensive remodeling to include state-of-the-art technology while preserving the historic exterior.
During construction, students and staff were relocated to a temporary facility. This campus had been vacant for the past decade and was last used as a middle school. It was challenging, but our staff quickly developed a “whatever it takes” mantra. We endured the temporary school placement, delayed construction timelines, a mid-year move to the renovated building, and flooding in 2019. This was followed by COVID challenges, but our staff stepped up in every circumstance and relied on our collaborative culture to improve learning.
Collaboration remains at the forefront of everything we do at Wilkeson. Every week begins with our Professional Learning Communities work. We set aside an hour exclusively for teams to address the four critical questions of a PLC:
What do we want students to know?
How will we know if they know it?
What will we do if they haven’t learned it?
What will we do if they have learned it?
The first question is addressed by our guaranteed and viable curriculum. Every grade-level team utilizes unit plans for reading, writing, and math. Their Tier I instruction is based on a crystal clear understanding of grade level standards and expected student outcomes. Power standards, learning targets, proficiency scales, common formative assessments, SMART goals, and standard-specific learning progressions are captured in unit plans. These plans are constantly improved and updated as data support the use of new resources and instructional strategies that prove to be more effective year after year.
During the collaborative time, teams bring student work samples and data from common assessments/evidence of student learning to reflect on previous instruction. Here is where we begin to address the second question, "How will we know if they know it?” Teachers, who have agreed to teach the same standards, discuss the results, calibrate scoring, uncover common misconceptions, and determine the next steps for intervention and extension. These discussions reveal which instructional practices are most effective; trust and vulnerability are essential components of high-performing teams. As a result, learning becomes visible, and PLCs serve as an organic form of professional development.
When students demonstrate a need for additional support, as stated in the third question, we identify specific skill gaps and implement interventions. Intervention progress is monitored and reviewed by the RTI core team. At times, a Student Intervention Team meeting is scheduled to problem-solve in-depth, adding more support. Paraprofessionals are a critical component of this therefore, it is important to note each Paraprofessional is assigned to a specific grade level to develop expertise in the content and instructional strategies. They share insights with teachers and take notes during the PLC to share strategies and intervention information with the Paraprofessional team. An example of notes is linked here.
The fourth question is - What will we do if they have learned it? When students demonstrate mastery, we have the opportunity to provide extensions to challenge their thinking. For example, when a child shows mastery of a math strategy, they may be asked to solve the problem with a new strategy, then prove which strategy is most efficient. They may also be asked to explain their thinking to peers using mental math conversations. Additionally, it is an opportunity to have the student reflect on their progress and celebrate!
In closing, White River School District staff have been pioneers of PLC work for over fifteen years. Wilkeson Elementary has been a part of this journey thanks to the leadership of our former Superintendent, Janel Keating-Hambly. Our collaboration has improved student learning and built collective efficacy. I am grateful because this culture is the key ingredient to our success.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Each grade-level team begins by identifying the essential standards that must be taught and agrees to a common pacing guide to help ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum across each grade level.
High-quality, Tier 1 instruction is the most critical component of student learning. Tier 1 instruction begins with grade-level teams building units of instruction across content areas based on power standards.
Each unit starts with an essential standard, proficiency scale, learning targets, and a pre-assessment to determine mastery of prerequisite skills. Each unit plan also contains several common formative assessments to determine student mastery. This includes an end-of-unit assessment and short formative assessments to monitor student learning. These assessments give teachers the data needed to provide feedback to their students and make instructional decisions and additional time, support, and extensions. Teams respond promptly to the data in various ways, including re-teaching, small group intervention in the classroom, grade-level team intervention time, partner work, or individual time and support. This data also gives the teachers information regarding which instructional strategies and resources positively impact learning.
Teachers continue to enhance their unit plans by reflecting upon the earlier unit. Reflections include instructional strategies that help teach a specific concept, interventions to aid in a particular skill, and formative assessments that lead to an understanding of student mastery. Moving forward, teachers have high-quality unit plans with proven success to support teachers when teaching that unit next year. These unit plans are especially beneficial when new teachers join a team.
When the pandemic hit, we had to monitor student learning differently. Teams collaborated to determine what student work would look like while at home. Teams narrowed the essential standards for their grade level that must be learned for students to be prepared for their next grade level of learning. Teachers used a variety of modes to identify proficiency in student work, including flip grid, seesaw, quick checks for understanding on zoom, and most importantly, they sat down with kids one on one and asked them to show how they solved a problem or found an answer on zoom. Then, teachers could give immediate feedback to support student learning. While our instructional model during the pandemic looked different, the expectation for students learning grade level standards remained the same.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
The multi-tiered system of support/intervention at Wilkeson begins with the grade-level team in the planning process for Tier 1 instruction. Teachers and teams are intentionally planning weekly for every student in their classrooms. The UDL (Universal Design for Learning) process is alive at Wilkeson. Teacher teams plan ahead for students with challenges to help them engage with grade-level essential standards. Intervention is directly connected to Tier 1 instruction when a small group of students receives additional time and support from the classroom teacher on a specific skill. The time and intensity in these intervention groups are fluid, as students may move through this quickly if they show growth. These groups are constantly changing based on formative assessments and progress monitoring.
In addition, an intervention block is a part of our master schedule in all grade levels to provide every student with additional intervention or extension based on assessment data. We call this intervention block "WIN Time" (What I Need Time). Teachers and administration meet in Response to Intervention teams every four-six weeks to review the weekly and bi-weekly data and make instructional decisions based on that data. Using student data, teachers and paraeducators provide interventions. The students with Tier 3 needs receive intervention in the smallest groups with our most qualified teachers. Students at or above the benchmark receive support to extend their learning needs. Again, these extensions are directly connected to level 4 on the proficiency scales. Intervention and extension time is taught with fidelity to maximize learning opportunities.
Students who fall far below the benchmark also receive a triple dip during the day. These students are identified based on their data. This small group or individual intervention provides a re-teaching or pre-teaching of skills to help the student succeed in Tier 1 instruction. This additional support is another way to support students and close skill gaps. The collaborative team determines the time and intensity of support.
The pandemic, specifically distance learning, also provided challenges related to additional time, support, and extensions. However, our goal remained the same. Teams still provided additional time and support for students based on formative assessment data. Our intervention blocks stayed the same; they just moved to small group zoom meetings with teachers and paraeducators. These small groups focused on the Tier 2 skills students needed to access and be successful with grade-level standards during Tier 1 instruction. Teachers used collaboration time to plan the student interventions and then developed short formative assessments to track their growth in the intervention. Ultimately, the team worked to meet their SMART goals.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Building high-performing, collaborative teams is a critical component of the PLC process. This process begins with a late start Monday, where every grade level team (teachers and paraeducators) has time to work collaboratively. No other meetings are scheduled during this time. The work of a PLC takes precedence.
Grade-level teams also have 22 hours of collaboration time built into their contract to work as a team. Teachers use the time to continue their work as a collaborative team, typically focusing on unit planning connected to the essential standards, creating common formative assessments, and planning interventions or extensions to increase student learning. In addition, all teams have common planning to ensure additional time to focus on the work of the team. Teams meet every 6-8 weeks with TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignments) to improve their ELA and Math instructional practice. Examples of work during these PD sessions include unit planning, planning instructional rounds, developing formative assessments, and adjusting intervention plans.
Another area to build capacity is by working with team leaders. Each grade level has a team leader to guide the work of the PLC. The team leaders make up the school leadership team. The team leader assists the team in establishing norms and accountability protocols to maximize the team's effectiveness. Team leaders also meet monthly with the principal to focus on the school improvement process. In August, team leaders receive training. During this training, they review school and grade-level data to set SMART goals. The Leadership Team meets throughout the year to review unit-by-unit data related to meeting our SMART goals.
Wilkeson grade-level team leaders meet quarterly with grade-level team leaders across the district. This team reviews district grade-level data and discusses instructional strategies linked to student achievement across the district.
Achievement Data Files
Awarded by OSPI for academic growth with the School Recognition Award 2018-19