Prescott Elementary School

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

We are Prescott Elementary School, and this is our PLC journey. We began our journey in August of the 2017-2018 school year. When we began we were focused on teaching, but because we had so many standards to teach we didn’t teach skills in depth. We used a pacing guide to help us stay on track and make sure we covered all the state standards before the end of the year. We did not have essential standards. We attempted to cover everything. The grade levels met twice a week during planning periods. This time was normally spent making tests to give on Friday and deciding which activities would be used with students during lessons. Our conversations were about what we were going to teach next. We didn’t look back to see what students had not learned. We didn’t look at test data. We used assessments strictly to give grades. The meetings often turned into venting sessions. The following week we would share the names of students who didn’t do well on our tests and would go about our planning for the next test and lessons. 

In a couple of grade levels, teachers did their own thing. There was no collaboration, no sharing of ideas, and no reteaching. Also, special education teachers and regular education teachers did not meet to collaborate. The regular education teachers had no idea what the special education teachers were teaching or how they were teaching it and vice versa. We were all focused on teaching, but we were all teaching differently.

We had 45 minutes of RTI time built into our daily schedule. During that time teachers would often involve their students in centers and would work with small groups on different skills. The center activities were the same for all students and were simply used as a way to review material the students had been learning. 

Our classrooms were arranged in pods. All of the grade level classrooms were together and there was little to no communication between different grade levels. There was no vertical collaboration on standards being taught or on students’ strengths and weaknesses.  We had a leadership team, but we didn’t meet regularly. There was little to no vertical planning among grade levels. As grade level teams we did not know what was expected in the previous grade level or the following grade level. We were a building of K-4 teachers, but we were not a cohesive, collaborative team. 

During our first two years of the PLC process, we met with our coaches regularly to get our building headed in the right direction. We began by establishing a building guiding coalition comprised of grade level chairs, counselor, reading interventionist, special education supervisor, and principal. Each grade level began the work of determining essential standards. Then we met vertically to make sure each grade level was preparing students for the next year. Grade levels then developed common formative assessments for the essential standards and determined what proficiency looked like for each standard.

We are now in our 3rd year of the PLC process. We have made significant improvements as a school and we are more focused than ever before. Since our district was awarded the PLC grant and not just our school, our mission, vision, and values document was created as a district. All staff were included when we developed our mission, vision, and values. We began by meeting as a district and every staff member shared what they wanted our newspaper headline to be for 2020. We shared everyone’s headline and discussed what needed to happen for that headline to become reality. Then the district guiding coalition met to work on our mission, vision, and values. Everyone gave input and we discussed each component in depth to ensure transparency. The information was then shared in a district meeting and we went back to our buildings and shared the information with our staff to make sure everyone had clarity.We have worked hard to sustain a culture of continuous improvement and make decisions to ensure we always Impact the Pack. In the Resource section, “R1” shows the mission, vision, and values document we created. We have determined our essential standards and have revised them several times. We have unpacked each essential standard and have learning targets for each one. Each grade level designs their own common formative assessments (CFA) as a team to make sure we assess every essential standard. We have designed more rigorous weekly assessments. There has been a lot of vertical alignment. Grade levels have met to discuss essential standards and vocabulary used when teaching them. 

This past summer we were chosen as one of four schools to participate in the Inclusive Practices Project. Special education is now an integral part of our classrooms. Special education teachers attend grade level meetings with regular education teachers to share student data as well as lessons ideas and ways to reach each student.  

We have completed our unit plans, and we modify and adjust them as needed to meet the needs of our students. In the Resource section, “R2” is an example of a 2nd grade unit plan. All of the decisions we make are data driven. We like to focus on facts not feelings. Decisions are made based on data rather than the convenience of teachers. We are looking at the ACT performance descriptors and the percentages of the question based on depth of knowledge levels.  We are focused on our students’ learning whereas in the past the focus was on teaching. 

Our special education students are now staying in regular education classrooms to receive core instruction. They are not just special education students. Classroom teachers are aware of the students' individualized goals and expectations are higher in both classrooms. This year we have also implemented joint grading to ensure teacher and student accountability.

During the 2019-2020 school year we added a K-1 literacy interventionist. We saw huge gains in Kindergarten and First grade when we added this position. Due to an unexpectedly large incoming Kindergarten class, we had to move our K-1 literacy interventionist back to Kindergarten. We plan to move her back to the interventionist position next year. We have also added a 30 minute Tier 3 RTI time in addition to our 45 minute Tier 2 time.  We share students during intervention to make differentiation more focused and to make sure that we are addressing interventions by the student by the standard. We make sure that our most qualified teachers are working with our lowest students.  We have developed a more in depth understanding of RTI and its purpose. 

We regularly reflect on our curriculum and make changes as needed. Our building configuration has changed to communities. Every community contains a classroom of each grade level. This allows for better vertical communication and collaboration among our grade levels. 

We now have a guiding coalition that meets regularly to discuss where we are in the PLC process and what we need to do to improve. We have an intervention team that meets regularly to discuss student progress and data (academics, attendance, behavior). We also have an essential behavior team that meets regularly to discuss students with tier 2 and tier 3 behaviors and how we can better meet their needs. We have also adopted the Character Counts curriculum and we focus on one character word each month. 

Each grade level has developed an end of the year checklist for essential standards for literacy and math. We track the proficiency levels of essential standards for each grade level as a whole as well as individual students. Students in 4th grade keep track of their own proficiency levels and are writing goals based on those standards. 

We have added 1 to 1 technology in our 3rd and 4th grade classrooms. All K-2 classrooms have technology in their classrooms.

To quote Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This is where we are currently. We are working hard to improve each and every day.

We are excited about all the possibilities that could become reality for our students and our school. Despite all of the changes we have made and all of the improvements, we still have work to do.

We are working on a task template to help keep our guiding coalition meetings more focused and keep us more accountable. Our meetings need to be more data focused. We also need to set a regular schedule for our guiding coalition meetings as well as our intervention meetings. We have been working on our Google drive to develop intervention resource files. We need to finish this and give all teachers access to it. Also related to intervention, we need to find a way to utilize our block teachers when they don’t have classes and design a schedule to include them in intervention.

With the addition of our grant we are working to improve our collaboration between special education teachers and regular education teachers. We have some that are more involved in collaboration and planning with the grade levels than others.

This year, we added two preschool classrooms for four year olds. We hope that this will help us to have more students prepared and ready to enter Kindergarten. 

As we continue throughout this year, we are going to be diligent in reviewing all of our data on a regular basis including cohort data. We are excited about how far we have come and are looking forward to the possibilities ahead.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

A guaranteed and viable curriculum came in the form of scripted programs throughout our school district until Prescott Elementary accepted the challenge of practicing as a Professional Learning Community. We began by meeting as grade levels to categorize our standards as good to know, nice to know and need to know. From the ones we chose as need to know, we determined which ones were essential;the ones our students couldn’t make it without. Then we met as vertical teams (i.e. 1st/2nd, 2nd/3rd, 3rd/4th) to discuss the ones we had chosen and to see if the other grade level thought they were needed as a prerequisite for learning. We had some difficult conversations and sometimes disagreements about what was essential. We also reviewed the ACT exemplars to make sure our essentials aligned with what our students would be tested over. However, after regular meetings, we identified our essential standards.  Now that we know better we are committed to doing better.  Collaborative teacher teams identify essential standards, unpack those identified essential standards and determine the proficiency level at which mastery is expected. In the resource section, “R3” shows our 1st grade essential standards for literacy. In the Resource section, “R4” shows 4th grade essential standards by quarter. Based on the consensus of our conversations, common formative assessments and summative assessments are created prior to instruction in order to assess students' journeys to mastery.  These assessments provide clarity on what mastery will look like at the determined level of rigor.    

The craft of the teacher is expressed through their teaching with a clear understanding of the end goal.  Through our previously identified pacing guide, we bring student evidence to the table weekly to reflect, intervene, and extend the essential standard.  The student work allows us to work collaboratively to understand strategies used by colleagues that were either successful or not.  We build on our strengths to grow professionally in order to meet the needs of ALL students.  We collectively own the learning of  “our” students and have eliminated the possession of “my” students. We practice this ownership by using each others’ strengths to determine who will lead which intervention group to mastery.  

Prescott Elementary utilizes the previous purchased scripted programs but now as a resource.  These programs do not dictate our instruction. We focus on student learning within our collaborative teacher teams by understanding and using data to ensure mastery for all students. We ensure high levels of learning for ALL students at Prescott Elementary through the professional learning community process. 

An abundance of strategies are used to monitor student learning can be observed daily at Prescott Elementary School.  Teacher teams, interventionists, and students are responsible for tracking student progress.  An outside observer might notice the use of open-ended questions during a book study, a quick CFA used at the end of a math lesson to determine mastery, misconceptions, or questions about the skill, or they might see students graphing their progress  after a DSA check.  Assessments, no matter how big or small, are all valued at Prescott Elementary because they are carefully planned out, align to our essential standards, and provide treasured data to help students reach their goals.  

A variety of “temperature checks” are used to determine where students are and what they need to do to move forward on their goals.  Questioning is a strategy that is used informally and also during formative assessments.  Teachers, interventionists, and students ask and answer questions during class discussions, collaborative work, and one-on-one interactions to determine where students are in their thought process.  

Common formative assessments, usually short and to the point, are used to track progress during new learning, they help provide insight regarding misconceptions or common errors, and can be used as a “check-in” with students on skills that were previously taught. In the Resource section “R5” shows a 3rd CFA over place value and rounding.Teacher teams take time to sort the CFA’s into piles of “common errors”,” mastered”, or “needs additional support”. This time for teacher teams is important because these same groups of students can be served during RTI. In the Resource section, “R6” is an example of a Kindergarten CFA analysis. This analysis shows both the students’ and teachers’ weakest areas.  Addressing the errors noted on the CFA’s serves as a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach.  

Student tasks (collaborative or independent) are widely implemented as a way to monitor student progress.  Writing prompts, open-ended questions, and drawings provide opportunities for all types of learners to connect to the skill and “show what they know.”  Teachers will spend time listening to the student teams discuss the task and their thoughts regarding the questions posed.  Teachers can use guiding questions during the observation and can make notes or use a check-list to record their observations.  

Weekly assessments play a major role in monitoring student learning on a timely basis.  The weekly assessment is created first when teacher teams unpack their essential standards and begin to plan their units. In the Resource section “R7” is an example of a 4th grade weekly assessment. Data from the weekly assessments is used to determine which students need additional support in order to master that essential standard.  The teams track this data and use it to create intervention groups during RTI. In the Resource section, “R8” is an example of a data sheet used by 4th grade to track their students’ growth around place value. Students are involved in tracking their progress, as well. In the Resource section, “R9a” and “R9b” show 4th grade students creating their goal books as well as marking their goals. Teachers and interventionists spend time meeting with students to discuss their progress.  

One of the tools we use to measure student growth is the DIBELS assessment (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). DIBELS assessments are administered by our reading interventionist and progress monitoring is done by classroom teachers. Our DIBELS data for 2020-2021 showed growth in all grade levels. In the Resource section, “R29, R30, R31, R32, R33, and R34” show our data for K-4 as well as resource and tier 3 students. We use a variety of colors to help us easily identify various groups or scores. On our DIBELS assessment we use the color RED to identify students who have not met the benchmark, YELLOW shows students who were close and GREEN meets or exceeds the benchmark set by the DIBELS 8th edition.  Students highlighted in PURPLE receive dyslexia instruction and students highlighted in LIGHT BLUE receive special education services.  Under the category of +/- we use the color RED to show the students who have not made progress and GREEN to show progress was made.  Students who are spaced apart at the bottom are students who were virtual all year.  

Summative assessments, such as ACT Aspire and STAR, provide data for the students and teachers regarding student progress. Even as early as our first year of implementation, we saw growth in our end of year cohort data as a result of the PLC practices we implemented. In the resource section, “R10” shows the 3rd and 4th grade cohort data from 2017 and 2018 ACT Aspire. This year we are using a new interim assessment, the NWEA assessment.  NWEA provides specific skills that students are missing.  The test is adaptive and “finds” where the student is. In the Resource section, “R11” shows our 4th graders academic growth on place value and rounding.  We are looking forward to seeing how our students grow using this new assessment as a basis for intervention needs.  During the 2020-21 school year we administered the NWEA assessment 3 times (fall, winter, end of year). Our NWEA data for 2020-21 showed growth in all grade levels. In the Resource section “  R35, R36, R37, R38, R39, R40, R41, and R42” show our data for K-4 as well as resource and tier 3 students. We use a variety of colors to help us easily identify various groups or scores. On our NWEA assessment we use the color BLUE to identify students who scored High which is above 80%, GREEN shows students who scored High Average at 61%-80%, YELLOW shows Average which is  41%-60%, ORANGE shows Low Average 21%-40%, and RED identifies those that are Low which is Below 21%.  Students highlighted in PURPLE receive dyslexia instruction and students highlighted in LIGHT BLUE receive special education services. Under the category of +/- we use the color RED to show the students who have not made progress and GREEN to show progress was made. Students who are spaced apart at the bottom are students who were virtual all year.  

While summative assessment data is very important, it does not drive student monitoring on a daily basis.  

Teachers and interventionists live by the motto, “by student, by skill.”   Observing “the” student master “the” skill is priceless.    

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

At Prescott Elementary School, we have made huge improvements in how we structure and implement response to intervention (RTI). Before we began the PLC process, many teachers utilized centers during RTI and gave students the option to choose what they wanted to do. All students did the same tasks in each center. In the beginning, we reviewed the basics of RTI, what we should not do during RTI, and expectations during RTI. In the Resource section, “R12” shows the basics of RTI document shared with teachers. Since we began the process, our RTI time is skill based. Teachers utilize data to determine what skill each student needs to be working on. RTI is differentiated for each student. We have designed and implemented a response to intervention schedule that includes both tier 2 and tier 3 intervention times. Each grade level has a 45 minute tier 2 intervention time each day as well as a 30 minute tier 3 intervention time. In the Resource section, “R23” shows our RTI times.  In the Resource section, “R14” shows tracking information from a 4th grade presentation given at the district level. The students are color coded based on the number of times it took the students to master the skill during intervention. You can also see how students were grouped for intervention. Intervention and extension ideas/links are also included in grade level unit plans. In the Resource section, “R15” shows a 4th grade unit plan that includes intervention and extension ideas. We also have an intervention team that meets monthly to discuss individual students as well as tier 3 students. We discuss progress or lack of as well as what’s working and what’s not. The intervention team consists of the reading interventionist, lead math teacher, counselor, special education supervisor, and principal. 

During the tier 2 intervention time, all students receive targeted interventions for essential standards based on common formative assessments. The students are placed into groups based on their needs. Last year, students in Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade were shared among grade level teachers each day for intervention. After analyzing data, students were grouped according to specific needs.  

Last year in first grade, we concentrated on Letter Naming, Phoneme Segmentation, Blending, Fluency, Dyslexia, Special Education, and Extensions.  Extension groups challenged students who had met essential standards. These groups worked on higher level books, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing.  Certified teachers intervened with all groups in first grade except the extension group which was led by a paraprofessional. We were blessed to have one of our retired teachers come back as a paraprofessional therefore she was qualified to work on the extension activities. The extension activities were planned by our first grade teachers and our reading interventionist, but were implemented by our paraprofessional.   In the Resource section, “R16” shows our first graders from last year and how they were grouped for intervention and  “R17” shows our K-2 assessment results.  Students in 3rd and 4th grades were shared among grade level teachers on a designated day each week. However, due to the COVID pandemic, we are no longer able to physically share our students. 3rd and 4th grade teachers used resources such as Heggerty, One-Minute Drills, blending cards, etc. during intervention time to work on phonemic awareness and phonics,  In the Resource section, “R18” shows our 3rd and 4th grade Star data.

During the tier 3 intervention time, special education students receive instruction from the special education teachers. The students receiving dyslexia interventions also receive their interventions at this time as well as students designated as being in need of support. This is designed to insure they do not miss any regular classroom instruction. We also provide behavior intervention at this time. Our counselor works with students who need extra support in developing essential behaviors needed to be successful academically as well as socially. Since beginning the PLC process we have seen a significant decrease in the number of discipline referrals.  In the Resource section, “R19” shows the behavior intervention referral form created by our essential behaviors team. In addition, “R20” shows our discipline referral data since the beginning of the process. The regular classroom teachers use this as a no new teaching time to provide more targeted interventions or extensions for their other students.

Intervention with our resource students began with us meeting them where they are.  If they are on a first grade reading level, then both general education teachers and special education teachers intervene on that level.  In the Resource section, “R21” shows intervention documentation for a resource student given by a special education teacher in the areas of letter naming, segmenting/blending, and sight words. In the Resource section, “R22” shows the growth our resource students made from the beginning of the year (BOY) to the end of the year (EOY) on our K-2 assessment in math (M) and literacy (EL).  

We also have a GT teacher who provides classroom enrichment activities to each class once a month for 30 minutes. This is in addition to the enrichment activities provided by the classroom teacher. The 3rd and 4th grade students placed in GT are also served in a pull-out program weekly for 2 hours and 10 minutes. 

 

 

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

“All great leaders are teaching and all great teachers are leading.” Richard DuFour 

Our mission at Prescott Elementary is to ensure high levels of learning for all students.  We practice in a collaborative culture and understand that it takes a team to ensure that all students are learning at high levels.  We also believe that there isn’t one person that possesses all of the skills needed to reach all students, but as a collaborative team we can collectively meet the individual needs of every student. 

Before we began the PLC process there was a feeling of isolated “greatness” among the teachers at Prescott Elementary.  An unspoken common awareness was shared among teachers and parents regarding which classroom teacher was preferred for his/her child.  This awareness created competitiveness and animosity within staff members. The environment was not conducive to collaboration which was evident in the inconsistent academic success of students. 

Fast forward to four years later and you see high functioning collaborative teams supporting each other in an environment where ALL students are OUR students. This transformation didn’t happen without hard work, many tough conversations, and a little pain.  It started with gaining clarity of why we exist, who we serve, and how we will serve them. We developed our mission and vision, and by going through that process we came to know our “why”. This process only happened with input and a consensus from all staff which in turn developed ownership.  Teachers felt a sense of ownership, which is empowering, because they each had a hand in every part of this process.  

Once we were all headed in the same direction, time and structures were modified to allow collaborative teacher teams to focus their efforts on improved student learning. We already had a common planning time for teachers in place. Grade level team members have 45 minutes each day to plan together. In the Resource section, “R23” shows our daily schedule which includes our planning time.  At the beginning of our second year of PLC, our school board approved an early release each Wednesday to allow common vertical and content collaboration among all teachers. The teams are intentional in their process as evident through their agendas, decided norms, and student data.  In the resource section,  “R24 shows a 3rd grade collaborative team agenda which includes norms, roles, and student data discussed. Initially, teachers transferred roles each meeting where someone different was the leader.   As teachers discovered their strengths and talents, they maintained that role within their team. A few teams still rotate the roles occasionally.  The collaborative teacher teams each determine what works in order for their grade level to have the most productive team time. However, every team member is expected to have a role on the team. 

Teams practice the ongoing process of being clear on the essential standards and learning targets to be mastered, determining assessments at the desired rigor to know if the students mastered the target, analyzing data to provide interventions and extensions while sharing students to ensure high levels of learning. They swap roles of becoming the adult learner when their students didn’t master a skill or a leader when their students demonstrated proficiency at higher levels than other classes.  Those roles are shared and changed when evidence presented dictates the need.  Learning to embrace these ever-changing roles has created a sense of pride among staff members because we all began to truly see that as a collective whole we are our own best resource.  

An increase in teacher self-efficacy, shared leadership, support from administration, and decisions about student learning that are based on evidence presented through collaborative teams are the changes related to PLC that we are most proud of.  We are ensuring high levels of learning for students by building teacher capacity and developing highly effective teacher teams.

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

We have included additonal data documents in our Resources folder. These are referenced in the text of our application. 

R10 - 2017-2018 Cohort Data - ACT Aspire

R11 - 2020-2021 Student tracking of Math ES - 4th grade

R14 - 4th grade RTI Data presentation 

R17 - 2018-2019 K-2 assessment data

R18 - 2018-2019 3rd/4th STAR data

R21 - Special Education intervention data

R22 - 2018-2019 Resource Data

R25 - Kindergarten DIBELS EOY

R26/R27 - 1st grade DIBELS EOY

R28/R29 - 2nd grade DIBELS EOY

R30/R31 - 3rd grade DIBELS EOY

R32 - 4th grade DIBELS EOY

R33 - Resource DIBELS EOY

R34 - Tier 3 DIBELS EOY

R35 - Kindergarten NWEA EOY

R36 - 1st grade NWEA EOY

R37 - 2nd grade NWEA EOY

R38 - 3rd grade NWEA EOY

R39 - 4th grade NWEA EOY

R40 - Resource NWEA EOY

R41 - Tier 3 NWEA EOY

R42 - Teacher/Grade level NWEA breakdown EOY

  Awards

  • Selected as one of only four schools to participate in the Inclusive Practices Project through Solution Tree.

  • The Principal and Special Education Supervisor are members of the Statewide Guiding Coalition through DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).

  • Eleven staff members participated in and presented to other districts throughout the state concerning the Statewide Playbook during the PLC Summit.

  • One teacher was a participant on the G.U.I.D.E. for Life Curriculum Development Team through DESE.

  • Our K-6 Reading Interventionist obtained a Literacy SOAR (Successful Outcomes for Arkansas Readers) grant through DESE.

  • Three National Board Certified Teachers on staff.

  • Kindergarten team presented at the ADE Summit.

  • Principal presented at Practioners Leading and Learning Conference.

  • 3rd grade teacher chosen to participate in Impact Arkansas Fellowship through the University of Arkansas.

  • 4th grade teacher chosen to participate in NBCT Candidate Academy through Harding University.

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