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 students began the 2020-21 year, it did not take long to realize the impact the pandemic had played upon student learning. After an abrupt ending to onsite school the previous school year, student learning stopped for many students. Teachers were required to move to a mode of instruction that many were ill-equipped to deliver, while students and families considered the school year to be over. Then, once school was back in session for the 2020-21 school year, parents were given the option to allow their student(s) to attend school through either onsite in person learning or through a digital online learning portal. That option plus the sheer number of quarantined students throughout the school year continued to present obstacles never before experienced within education. However, amidst each of these hurdles, teachers at East Pointe continued to hold students to high expectations and one another accountable for ensuring that all students were learning. Because systems had been put into place through the PLC process, students at East Pointe continued to thrive academically!

Although we did encounter loss of learning, the focus staff members placed upon ensuring students were proficient on essential standards prior to COVID-19 translated to less time spent reteaching prior grade level concepts once students were back in school. This allowed teachers to really focus on the most important grade level essential standards, teaching as if the lives of our students literally depended upon it! They realized that there was no guarantee that we would remain onsite and even if we did, it was possible that any student might be placed into a quarantine situation that would take them off campus at any time. This sense of urgency pushed teachers to closely monitor student learning by focusing on evidence and results, while providing additional time and support at Tier 2 for those students who had not yet learned the content.

In the spring semester, our students were able to take summative assessments for the first time since the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year. In our primary grades, we utilize the NWEA Map assessment as a reference for the progress of our students. At the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, all three of our primary grades (K-2) exhibited the highest end of year percentage of students meeting or exceeding proficiency in both mathematics and reading that we have ever experienced! 

In our intermediate grades (third and fourth), the ACT Aspire is the assessment used to monitor student progress throughout the year. Students are assessed in the subject areas of English, mathematics, science, and reading. Like our primary grades, East Pointe third grade students exhibited their highest end of year percentage to date of students meeting or exceeding proficiency in all four of the content areas! Although our fourth grade did not end the year with their highest percentages to date, the scores in each content area remained consistent at the conclusion of a year in which the state of Arkansas as a whole experienced a significant decline in overall percentages of students meeting/exceeding proficiency. That being said, our fourth grade team has spent a considerable amount of time pouring through the data to determine areas of strength and areas in need of improvement in order to prioritize their Tier 1 instructional practices. One powerful component of data pointed toward a lack of proficiency in students with characteristics of dyslexia. Due to the state laws mandating the service of students with characteristics of dyslexia, we realized that these students were often pulled from Tier 1 (science, social studies, or writing) or Tier 2 instruction in order to meet the required minutes and group size guidelines. In an effort to ensure that ALL students receive their Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction in all content areas, we have since incorporated a designated Tier 3 time within the daily master schedule for the current school year. Our goal for doing this is to ensure that students with significant gaps in learning receive the additional support needed without missing out on core instruction and/or intervention on all grade level content.

As a professional learning community that believes that all students can learn at high levels, our students who are at an economical disadvantage, as well as those who receive special education support, continue to be a focus group for us. In order to be collectively responsible for all students, we realize the need to be truly intentional about tracking these students in their progress toward mastery of essential learning. As a result, we are beginning to see gains among these students in both mastery of essential standards and on testing data. Although we are exhibiting growth, this continues to be an area of focus in our quest to ensure learning for all students. We have become diligent about including our special education instructors in collaborative team meetings so that everyone has an opportunity to learn from one another. The expertise the special education teachers bring regarding differentiated instruction and the expertise the general education teachers bring regarding grade level standards and expectations is providing opportunities for collaboration and learning in which we had not been taking full advantage of in the past.

With the many challenges presented to staff and students throughout the course of the past year, there were a multitude of reasons our teachers might have chosen to lower the expectations for students and themselves. However, the overwhelming approach at East Pointe Elementary was to view every moment as an opportunity to guarantee learning for students while we could. Due to the tenacity of our teaching staff, partnered with a desire to make sure that students were learning even during the most challenging of circumstances, East Pointe students showed substantial growth -- yielding a significant increase in state rankings compared to other elementary schools within the state. 

 

 

 

Recipient of Reward Money for Academic Performance

  • 2017-18: Top 6-10% Performance

  • 2018-19: Top 6-10% Performance

School Rankings

  • 2021: Named #1 Best Public Elementary School in Sebastian County (Niche)
  • 2021: Named #1 Best Public Elementary School Teachers in Sebastian County (Niche)
  • 2021: Named #18 Best Public Elementary School in Arkansas (Niche)
  • 2021: Named #13 Best Public Elementary School Teachers in Arkansas (Niche)
  • 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 (Kindergarten coach, Presenter for multiple DESE webinars) 

  • Faith Short, Assistant Principal (Kindergarten coach, Presenter for multiple DESE webinars)

Selected to represent educators on the Arkansas PLC Cohort Report at the Joint Congressional Education Committee meeting (2020) -- Josh Ray, Principal

Selected to serve on the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Guiding Coalition (2020, 2021) -- Faith Short, Principal

Selected as an Arkansas Practitioner for the Arkansas Regional PLC Network (2021) -- Faith Short, Principal

Franklin Covey Lighthouse School (2019)

 

Top