East Pointe Elementary

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

When the leadership of East Pointe Elementary committed to becoming a Professional Learning Community at Work, we realized that we had to begin by providing a convincing and viable reason to staff for the need to change. By community standards, our school was viewed as successful based upon state ranking criteria and standardized test scores; therefore, we did not feel a sense of urgency to change our practices. However, from the inside, we knew that a shift in thinking was required to move away from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning; a transition from being a good school satisfied with providing opportunity for all students to a great school that guarantees all students are learning at high levels. In order to enact change, the administrators recognized the importance of laying the foundation and building a shared understanding around the why behind the work we were asking our staff to embark upon. Led by a leadership team consisting of administrators, instructional facilitators, and counselors, the East Pointe team turned our focus to the Four Pillars, determining within our school what our purpose is, who we have to become to accomplish our purpose, what we believe in, and how we were going to determine our progress and success along the way. Our Guiding Coalition, comprised of teacher leaders that represented every collaborative team within our school, partnered with the administrators to build a master schedule that allowed for common planning time daily, weekly collaborative team time, and a daily embedded intervention/extension time. It was important to us to demonstrate the value that we were placing upon collaboration and learning by making time for both within our master schedule. Our Guiding Coalition then went to work drafting a mission focused around high levels of learning for all students. Over the course of the first semester, these teacher leaders presented their ideas to staff who in turn came to consensus around a new mission and vision, collective commitments, and goals that would guide the work at East Pointe moving forward. During grade level collaborative meetings, the leadership team continued working to establish common language and to develop clarity around the focus on learning, collaboration, and results, all while keeping the four critical questions as the lens through which we would frame our work.

Initially, our work was clumsy. However, we did not allow adult discomfort to distract from our goal of becoming more focused and effective for our students. Because of the new scheduling, we began embedded intervention as we simultaneously worked to identify and unpack essential standards. Well-intended as this was, we lacked the focus and the crucial understanding of our standards to really help our students. Over time, as our teams worked through the four critical questions during their collaborative conversations, question one led us to unpack standards and become more knowledgeable and deeply rooted in understanding “what we want our students to learn.” As we continued our work, we regularly came back to this question, more clearly breaking down our standards and readdressing our previous prioritization of what was essential. Discussions around question two resulted in a new intentionality regarding learning expectations, rigor, and rubrics based upon mastery level criteria as we worked through the process of collaboratively building common formative assessments (CFA) to inform us of where students were in their learning. Throughout the process, the administrators have worked alongside the teams and been key contributors within the collaborative team meetings to demonstrate the importance and value that is placed upon the work.

Over time, the distributed leadership of our Guiding Coalition has been what truly changed East Pointe Elementary. What began as an uncertain group lacking confidence in the knowledge of the process transitioned into a leading group of advocates for the work. As a collaborative team, we began bringing samples of team and student work to look at collaboratively. This meant more focused agendas, teams observing other teams at work, dissection of CFAs to determine rigor, and a schoolwide improvement in our practice. With added confidence, our team leaders began to transform the function of our collaborative meetings while improving on every element of our work. Our teams created tools for data collecting, schedules for assigning students tiered levels of support based on team data, ways to monitor whether interventions were effective, and vertical approaches to extension for students who displayed grade-level proficiency. Our teacher leaders often collectively practiced the work of their collaborative teams within the Guiding Coalition, both to develop confidence and to empower each individual member to facilitate the same processes with their peers. Incrementally, these practices developed independent leaders of the work of our school, helping to distribute the leadership and ensuring the spread, and ultimately, the sustainability of our Professional Learning Community. 

At East Pointe, we believe that the Professional Learning Community at Work model is the most effective vehicle for our continued growth and development. We systematically focus on the three big ideas and four essential questions, regularly returning to improve previous work with new clarity and resolve. Through interdependent collaboration, our teams are continuously adapting to provide the equity needed for high levels of learning for every child. As a result, we have seen a powerful shift in teacher and student efficacy. A clear focus on results has contributed to the development of assessment and data literacy among our staff, resulting in a knowledge of our students unlike we had previously seen. Most importantly, these fundamental beliefs have become ingrained in the culture of our organization, influencing the logistical and operational functions of our school, the partnerships with our families and community, and even our hiring practices. Now, in order to become a team member at East Pointe Elementary, you must be an individual who places high priority upon student learning, collaboration, and interdependence within a team, and exhibits a willingness to be open and transparent regarding data and results. The culture of our school has matured in such a way that it would be impossible to undo the amazing work that has taken place through this process and go back to “the way we’ve always done it.”

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Monitoring student learning happens throughout the school in many ways. Primarily, this takes place as a regular function of the collaborative teams. As collaborative teams, our staff members work together to determine the skills and targets that all students are expected to learn and then create rigorous assessments to monitor the progress of students’ growth toward mastery of these skills. During collaborative meetings, teams examine student work samples and data collected from these team-created assessments to make instructional decisions based upon the needs of individual students. The individual members within the team learn best practices from one another as highlighted by class CFA data while organizing their strength and expertise to address intervention or extension by skill for each child. This process begins with the organization of students based on their demonstrated ability of the specific skill being measured. Teachers and paraprofessionals then use the results of common data to determine who will provide targeted support for each student in the grade based upon need. 

While most students demonstrate mastery through added support in the class and targeted intervention from their grade level team, some students still need additional assistance. Progress of these students is monitored weekly through a Student Support Team comprised of our administrators, counselors, and instructional leadership. This team meets with classroom teachers to progress monitor and record results of additional support for each student, decide upon goals to be monitored, and assess how each student is progressing throughout the year.

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

The first step of a strong tiered system of interventions is intentional prevention. As our teams plan instructional units, they address common misconceptions and make plans for explicit instruction in each of these areas. Next, differentiated instruction and small group instruction happens at the Tier 1 level within the classroom to provide additional support for students struggling with a particular essential skill. Using the formative assessments results, each teacher works with students with a level of intentionality meant to prevent any gaps in the mastery of essential standards. Although this additional insulation is provided within the classrooms to ensure learning, some students may still continue to struggle with the content. At this point, students receive additional Tier 2 intervention or extension instruction based upon skill and need. Four days per week, each grade has WIN (What I Need) time that consists of a thirty minute block where teachers, paraprofessionals, and interventionists sort students by specific skill and need to provide specific, targeted instruction and additional practice. Teachers collect data during the WIN groups to continue monitoring student progress, as well as to move students as needed to other WIN groups. As students demonstrate mastery across the grade, instruction progresses to the next skill. For students who are two grade levels behind or need continued support, tier three instructional services are provided in small groups by specially trained interventionists. These tier three intervention groups occur in addition to initial instruction of essential standards (tier one) and WIN groups (tier two). 

The majority of our students who receive Special Education services are served through the integrated model with a teacher and paraprofessional in their classroom. These classes are smaller in number than others to provide an additional level of support for students in their area of need. These students have full access to all three tiers of intervention in addition to the added support provided by the environment of their integrated classroom. Between 2 and 3 percent of our students utilize the self-contained, small group model of special education services to help meet their needs. The grade level teams work in conjunction with our self-contained special education teachers to design individual schedules for students that allows them the opportunity to receive initial instruction with their peers and includes them in WIN time for tier 2 support. Tier 3 support for these students comes in the form of focused small group instruction around their individual learning goals with a special education teacher and paraprofessionals. 

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

At East Pointe Elementary, the foundation of our school is the collaborative teams. Each team has forty minutes of uninterrupted collaborative planning time daily as well as an additional hour weekly. Each team collaboratively develops norms to help guide their behavior. Norms are revisited regularly to allow for additions and/or deletions dependent upon the needs of the individual teams. Each team meeting is organized through a team-created pre-planned agenda centered around the four essential questions. The team assigns someone to help with time management to ensure that no critical components are unaddressed during their time together. One of the most important components of our work that shapes teacher capacity is the creation of SMART goals. Each team collaboratively creates goals that are measured and revisited throughout the year. The team goals work in conjunction with broader school-wide goals and are referenced frequently as a measure toward successful accomplishment of the school-wide goals.

The largest catalyst for the development of teacher capacity has been the growth of our Guiding Coalition. These team members are carefully selected and have become the heartbeat of our work throughout the school. Over time, the role of administrators and instructional facilitators has changed as our team leaders have become the primary facilitators of their collaborative meetings. 

Our staff has benefited from continuous professional growth through our partnership with Solution Tree associates and attendance at several institutes. This professional learning is directed to the specific needs of our teams and the students they serve. Additionally, we are working to extend our collaboration beyond the walls of our building. Our teachers partner with teams from the other elementary school in the district to continually revisit and refine our standards-based report card. These same partnerships were strengthened when our campuses collaboratively created alternate methods of instruction at the end of the 2019-2020 school year due to the school closures associated with COVID-19. During this same period, teams from our school collaborated with other schools across the state to provide a statewide resource for teachers as they work to address learning gaps associated with missed schooling due to the pandemic. 

As we learn more and progress through this work, we find ourselves becoming more attuned to students’ needs and rising up to ensure that students are being met exactly where they are. We are continually reassessing and refining our processes, thinking about what we can do better, addressing specific student needs, and determining how we can better serve our students to ensure high levels of learning for every single student. Over time, through these and many other experiences, our teachers have developed a deep understanding of the process and are confident sharing the knowledge gained with other colleagues. They have embodied our commitment to continuous improvement and shared accountability for all students. If given the choice, they would choose to continue to do this work because it is not only right, it is what is best for our students. 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

As East Pointe Elementary embraced a focus on results, we began to see a positive shift in the performance of our students. However, this shift in student performance did not instantly manifest itself through substantial increases on summative data. Although we did notice some gains in assessment data, the shift in quality of learning was what stood out the most. Initially, our focus was on the results of our state assessments, but we quickly realized the importance of internal measurements of students' ability to master our essential standards. As our teams made changes to narrow the focus of intensive instruction to consist of these most essential standards, students began to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and began to exhibit greater transfer of learning from one grade level to the next and one content area to another. 

In our primary grades, we utilize the NWEA Map assessment as a reference for the progress of our students. There was substantial achievement growth between year one (2017-18) and year three (2019-20) on the winter assessments in first and second grades for both reading and mathematics. However, we realized that the assessment data for kindergarten had slightly decreased from winter 2017-18 to winter 2019-20. This realization caused our kindergarten team to delve deeper into the data and look closer at skill areas in which learning gaps were evident. We realized that many of these gaps in learning could be remediated by a shift in instructional pacing for future years. The kinder team made adjustments in pacing for the upcoming school year while tending to the individual needs of students in the current year. The team worked diligently to ensure that each student was receiving Tier 2 intervention in the areas of weakness noted on the assessment and on formative assessments based upon essential standards, while continuing instruction on essential standards at the Tier 1 level. In the spring of 2020, our kindergarten students were experiencing significant growth and had already nearly met our academic goals prior to the conclusion of onsite instruction due to COVID-19, as evidenced in the kindergarten goal data.

Our kindergarten team (teachers and students) was demonstrating such an upward trend  toward mastery of essential standards that we are certain we would have maintained that momentum into the spring NWEA assessments. We were extremely disappointed in the cancellation of end-of-year summative assessments because our students’ upward trajectory would have definitely translated into a significant increase in assessment scores and data.

In our intermediate grades (third and fourth), the ACT Aspire is the assessment used to monitor student progress throughout the year. Each year consists of two interim assessments serving as benchmarks for progress and then a final summative assessment taken at the end of April. During the 2019-20 school year, we were unable to participate in the ACT Aspire summative assessment due to COVID-19. However, consistent growth was recorded across our ACT Aspire interim assessments. Areas in which little or no growth occurred, we met as curricular teams to determine areas of weakness and next steps necessary to facilitate student learning and success. 

In third grade, we noticed consistent growth on the ACT Aspire summative assessments for our combined population (2017-18 to 2018-19) in both english and mathematics, with all scores in both grades being consistently higher than the state average. Although third grade scores in reading saw a marginal decrease (-1%) during this time span, the focused and intentional work that was done at all tiers of instruction was applauded. The number of third grade students with diagnosed characteristics of dyslexia tested during the 2018-19 year consisted of the largest number of dyslexic students ever seen within a single grade level (29). To ensure that these students not only received Tier 1 instruction on all grade level essential standards, careful planning and scheduling went into ensuring that each of these students received intervention of grade level standards and remediation to bridge foundational gaps in learning at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels, respectively. As fourth graders (2019-20), this same cohort of students made gains in reading from their summative assessment as third graders (50% ready/exceeding) to their interim 1 assessment as fourth graders (53% ready/exceeding) and their interim 2 assessment as fourth graders (64% ready/exceeding). In regards to math, the team determined that there were a couple of heavily assessed concepts that our students struggled with. The team realized that these skills had not been taught at the depth of rigor necessary for students to be successful, so this became a primary focus with instruction and assessment. We did notice that although we had fewer students overall reach the ready benchmark, nearly half of our students reached the exceeding benchmark. By disaggregating the data and looking specifically for areas of weakness, we were able to identify students in need of additional support and plan next steps for Tier 1 instruction. In addition, the fourth grade team has endured significant staffing changes throughout the course of the three years. As we have worked through the collaborative process, we have been very intentional about situating staff members in the placement in which we believe they will be the most effective for our students. As a result, interim 2 scores from the 2018-19 school year to the 2019-20 school year saw an increase in nearly every content area among the combined student population. In addition, the interim scores during the 2019-20 school year increased significantly between interim 1 and interim 2. 

In regards to science, an area in which we have witnessed little consistent growth, our third and fourth grade teachers spent time really digging into the data to determine ways to better prepare students. The teachers realized that the skills needed in order to be successful included more than just knowledge of science curriculum. A deep understanding of data analysis and mathematical skills from the data and measurement strand, in addition to a toolbox of reading strategies, would be necessary for students to be successful. Due to this, our teachers began to be intentional about embedding practices which targeted these necessary components alongside the science curricula. This level of intentionality was witnessed in each content area and evidenced through tracking of students reaching mastery of essential standards (see Mastery Tracking). Based upon this evidence of learning and the trajectory our third and fourth grade students were on to achieving mastery of all essential standards, we feel like our summative scores were going to be the highest to date. With the focus on mastery of essential standards, the student learning had moved from broad and surface level to a more narrow focus with much, much deeper levels of understanding.

As we have truly become a professional learning community that believes that all students can learn at high levels, our students that fall under the umbrellas of special education and/or economically disadvantaged have really become a focus group for us. Believing that all students can learn at high levels, we realized the need to become truly intentional about tracking these students in their progress toward mastery of essential learning. In addition to including special education teachers at the Tier 2 level, we make learning of identified students a priority by taking collective responsibility for both their successes and failures. As a result, we are beginning to see significant improvement among these students in both mastery of essential standards and on testing data as noted on the subpopulation scores table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipient of Reward Money for Academic Performance

  • 2017-18: Top 6-10% Performance

  • 2018-19: Top 6-10% Performance

School Rankings

  • 2020: Named #12 Best Public Elementary School in Arkansas (Niche)

  • 2020: Named #1 Best Public Elementary School in Sebastian County (Niche)

  • 2019: Named #51 Best Public Elementary School in Arkansas (Schooldigger)

Featured two times on the All Things PLC website:

  1. Leading a Culture of Collaboration (April 2019)

  2. What Does Your School’s Success Rest On? The Four Pillars in Action at East Pointe Elementary (March 2020)

Selected to serve on Statewide Playbook Collaborative Teams and present at ADE Summit

  • Kindergarten team

  • 3rd Grade math team

  • 4th Grade math team

  • Josh Ray, Principal (Arkansas Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education Guiding Coalition, Kindergarten coach, Presenter for multiple DESE webinars) 

  • Faith Short, Assistant Principal (Arkansas Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education Guiding Coalition and Kindergarten coach)

Selected to represent educators on the Arkansas PLC Cohort Report at the Joint Congressional Education Committee meeting (2020)

Franklin Covey Lighthouse School (2019)

 

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