Brazosport ISD

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

Brazosport Independent School District began its PLC journey in the fall of 2015 at at time where four schools were labeled by the state of Texas Education Agency as “Improvement Required,” two schools were on “Monitor Status” and student academic performance at our other thirteen campuses was at an all time low. With a change in leadership, our new district mantra, based on the four questions of a PLC, became “WE BELIEVE,” which embraced a focus on student learning for all.  We also adopted Rick Dufour’s philosophy that “the journey will require hard work.” In order to succeed we knew we needed to create a collaborative cultural change across all of our campuses that focused on one simple result, improving student achievement.

Implementation of the PLC processes began in the Board Room with our seven trustees. We gave them the vision for our educators becoming a professional learning community, and promised them improved results if given the resources to expand our vision from the Board Room to the classroom.  With our Board of Trustees adopting the PLC processes in our district’s Strategic Plan, we then initiated working with our campus administrative teams exploring and implementing Best Practices from Dufour’s book Professional Learning Communities at Work. The following summer we registered every principal, assistant principal, and campus leadership team for the PLC Institute in San Antonio, which resulted in a radical district transformation. During our first conference our team heard one clear message and we reached the affirmation of what we truly believed. It was not just a cliche printed on banners, but a mission to believe that ALL students can learn, and as a collaborative district team we were accountable to ensure that learning takes place. Since then, we have been committed to attending the PLC Institute in San Antonio, busing over 250 people (with the exception of the summer of 2020 due to COVID). We have also been attending the RTI Institutes, and allocate much of our resources to the continuation of our PLC journey. These actions send a message to everyone; we are committed to the PLC process, we are investing our resources to sustain and improve the process, and we believe in practices that reflect that the PLC process is firmly in place at every level and at each campus.

The learning from the PLC institutes provided us the knowledge to make adjustments to ensure that effective instructional practices were in place.  Such practices included developing master schedules on each campus that reflected common team planning time; daily blocks of intervention time to allow for remediation and enrichment; and utilizing PLC rubrics to assess and reflect on our teamwork, student learning, and culture of collaboration.  District Guiding Coalitions were formed that empowered teachers to identify essential outcomes based on content and grade level. Campus teams learned the art of developing common formative and summative assessments. We had to ensure that we worked with a curriculum that was viable and followed a logical scope and sequence.  In addition, all of these elements were embedded in our professional development to create cohesion and collaboration.  Finally, our superintendent clearly emphasized the district’s commitment to the PLC culture by removing barriers that could possibly impede district-wide implementation while also requiring the use of SMART goals in our campus plans to ensure increased campus accountability and success.

Today the PLC practices are synonymous with our culture. We continue to network monthly with our principals and assistant principals to instill a common understanding and language while designing road maps of collaborative actions to guide the work with campus teams. In five years we have transformed from PLC Lite to PLC TIGHT!  The Professional Learning Community is embedded in our strategic plan and our campus plans, as well as reflected in our superintendent's evaluation. The district’s role has shifted from implementation to supporting each school as they strive to meet their student outcome goals.

The hard work that Rick Dufour spoke of is seen in the results and the power of working as a professional learning community.  Since 2015, Brazosport Independent School District has received the following recognitions:

  •   Moved from a state recognition of “D” to “B”
  • Campus distinctions increased from  15  to 31

  • Four Nationally Recognized Model PLC campuses (Polk Elementary, Freeport Elementary,  Lanier Middle School,  and Freeport Intermediate)

Our district is made up of eight municipalities with a very diverse population.  It doesn’t matter what school a child is zoned for because we, Brazosport ISD, ensure that learning at high levels will be guaranteed in a culture of collaboration.  Our focus on results has been transformational as evidenced in our district report card, our state’s accountability measures, and our numerous awards.  Our community not only believes in us, but trusts that we will do whatever it takes to set the standard for excellence for our children, whether it’s virtual or face-to-face. With four international model PLC schools in our district, we hope to be the shining light for schools everywhere.  Despite the obstacles (Covid-19, brain-eating amoebas in our water, and hurricanes looming in the Gulf) that have made everyday life a continuous struggle, we know the one thing that holds us together...and that’s each other. From the Board Room to Central Office operations where expectations are defined and understood, to working with principals and campus teams which make up our guiding coalitions, we have evidence that demonstrates the PLC process is our tool for ensuring student academic success. The PLC process has become and will continue to be the foundation for all of our work in Brazosport Independent School District. Our hope is that we have built a legacy to ensure learning for ALL. 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Monitoring Student Learning On a Timely Basis

To enhance our curriculum and our overall understanding of the numerous Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) objectives the state of Texas requires us to teach, we sent our curriculum department to six days of training with the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).  Through this training, we increased our knowledge of writing curriculum and identifying essential outcomes that target positive student learning.  Shortly after attending the training, our curriculum department solicited teachers to join Guiding Coalitions for each content area. This enabled the teams to become an integral part of creating curriculum frameworks which were developed to incorporate a coherent scope and sequence for delivering instruction.  Included in these frameworks were explicit lessons, resources, assessments and  comprehensive information that are teacher friendly and easily accessible. These resources provide clarity for what we want our students to learn, and assist with prioritizing what is absolutely essential for becoming grade level ready.

Committed to ensuring that the curriculum frameworks and the work of our Guiding Coalitions are implemented, our district provides six professional development days placed at strategic times during the school year to ensure all teachers are knowledgeable in the frameworks. This gives teachers an opportunity to gain insight into what we want students to learn, and to point them to the resources needed to assist them in making that happen.  Since these are content specific, not only does the teacher obtain a deeper understanding of their subject, they are able to create a culture of collaboration that builds trust and sharing between departments and grade level bands.   The district professional development days lead into campus professional development days where teachers can study their own student data and align their instruction to meet individual needs, and perhaps adjust the scope and sequence of our frameworks if needed.  This process has been developing which is now complete for all of our core subjects.  Our Guiding Coalitions in our content areas will again meet throughout the year and in the summer to update and revise as state standards change.  Our work in curriculum is ongoing but our teacher input and collaboration is driving our success.

When our district initiated itself in the PLC process in 2015, it became overwhelmingly clear that our cultural shift from teaching to student learning was occurring, but we needed a more targeted focus.  We then turned to John Hattie and his work from Visible Learning to move our teachers to see learning through the lens of our students.  We realized we were emphasizing the use of summative assessments and overlooking the value of formative assessments.  As Dufour states “a summative assessment is how students prove they have learned.  A formative assessment gives a student a chance to improve upon their learning.” With this in mind, a district-wide cultural transformation occurred.  This information enabled us to really look into our Tier 1 priorities, build a better understanding of our curriculum, and develop formative assessments that provided us knowledge to work with our students in a timely fashion that resulted in significant student achievement.  More importantly, we focused on two crucial PLC questions   What do we expect our students to learn? And  how do we know that they actually learned it?  Although simplistic in nature, this became the basis for our success.  Prior to this, our teachers felt like we were teaching to a test. Teachers and students were becoming victims to the testing process.  But when we disaggregated our data, utilizing common formative assessments,  and really analyzed how students were learning, we were able to reflect upon our instructional strategies and make changes immediately to ensure all students were not only keeping up but achieving at high levels.  All of our campuses administer our district Curriculum Based Assessments (CBA’s), but they have honed in on the art of developing  their own common formative assessments. The team designed common formative assessments are administered, and are based on the guidance of each team based on skills and or instructional concepts taught.  Results are monitored by campus principals and data is kept to address students who were deficient on skills for placement in Tier II interventions.

The use of common formative assessments has been an academic transformation to increase student achievement.  What we found as our first “go to” was that answers to challenging questions and effective strategies were near; as we like to quote,  “The answer is in the room!”  When teacher teams work together to establish essential learning outcomes and create their own common formative assessments, it's a game-changer!  We work as a team and chant the adage that “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion!” Our grade level teams and departments meet weekly to review student progress and discuss the plan for both struggling students and students who have already reached mastery levels. Each campus has the autonomy to create their “systems” for these students, but what is consistent is time set aside for reteaching and reassessing for mastery. Additionally, teachers “put their pride on the side” to discuss who achieved the best results, and to share effective strategies that are proven to work. Sometimes it’s a research based strategy, and other times, teachers find that building the relationships with struggling students has a magical effect on student outcomes.  Once the discussion of “will versus skill” takes place, then teachers can determine if other personnel on campus need to bring in their areas of expertise to address student deficiencies.  It’s a collaborative effort with the attitude of “our kids” not “my” kids. 

Examples of Curriculum Frameworks

Examples of Math Standards

Example of Learning Targets Centered Around Frameworks Presentation

Copy of Mathematical Models with Application Curriculum Calendar 

 

 

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

In Brazosport ISD we have prevailed in creating an environment of collaboration around the belief that all students can learn and when we say  “all means all, we decisively mean it. Our belief that intervention and remediation yields far better results for student learning began to outweigh the traditional “curriculum coverage” conversations.   Within the last five years, we have implemented a district wide system of RtI that focuses specifically on Rick Dufour’s third critical question of a PLC “What will we do if they don’t learn?” and by utilizing  data we have created systematic interventions that provide us information to intentionally target our instruction to meet the individual needs of each student.  Elementary schedules have been altered to ensure that RtI time is built into the master schedule to provide students the additional time needed to fill in gaps and provide for their  academic success.   For secondary schools, it presented some challenges in the beginning, but as we began to look at the research, attend conferences to hear Rick DuFour talk about his experiences in high school, and to read Mike Mattos book It’s About Time, we began to have a clearer understanding of the need to provide additional blocks of time for students who struggled.  With this premise, the restructuring of our traditional day was set in motion.  As a district, we utilize the three tiers of intervention to provide a systematic approach for identifying and working with struggling students.

Tier I

All students receive high quality rigorous instruction utilizing a common curriculum framework that is reviewed and dissected at the beginning of each semester to ensure all our teachers have a deep understanding of their content and grade level objectives; we call these “District Professional Development (PD) Days.”  The following day, campuses meet during “Campus PD Days” to disaggregate student data and adjust instruction based on the curriculum and the progress of their individual students.  Since we have approximately 18% student mobility in our district,  it is imperative that if a student withdraws from one district campus and enrolls in another, that instruction is coherent, sequential, and processes are in place to ensure learning gaps do not occur.   In addition, common formative assessments created by campus teams and district level curriculum based assessments (CBA’s) are given to determine student growth and achievement.  We also use district-wide screeners  three times a year to review student progress and to furnish additional data points for placement in interventions if needed.   In Tier I, our teacher teams collaborate to review common assessments, identify students, and implement  Tier one interventions within the classroom by offering differentiated instruction and small group instruction.

Tier II

Our Tier II instruction is intended for students who are struggling with our core curriculum.  Teacher teams through a common planning time, meet to decide how to best serve the needs of our learners and to fill in the gaps that they are missing.  Tier II interventions could be that a student works with another teacher or paraprofessional to assist with the learning of essential skills as evidenced by their progress on running records, common formative assessments, or CBA’s.  Our campuses have also instituted daily intervention periods in their schedules that are called:  Pride Time, Cougar Time, Team Time, Rocket Time,Anchor Time, etc.  These times, approximately 45 minutes daily,  are closely monitored by the building leadership and instructional coaches.  Spreadsheets of student data are kept by grade and content level PLC teams and are analyzed bi-weekly for effectiveness; these are monitored by campus principals.  District principal supervisors meet monthly with principals to review progress.  The needs during this time are prescribed by the teacher teams and rely on specificity;  it’s not about if a student is failing, but what specifically is the student not mastering and addressing those skills that will guarantee academic success.   By instituting this system, Tier II interventions not only focus on struggling learners but have allowed us to  provide extensions to students who are high performing,  in our Gifted and Talented programs, as well as our Career and Technical Education programs.  We have greatly expanded these two programs with funding and resources to provide increased opportunities for students to explore their talents and skill sets. 

Tier III

Students identified as needing  Tier III intervention services receive intense supplemental instruction in a one-on-one or small group setting for a minimum of 35 minutes daily.  Screener data, CBA data, and state testing data is utilized to determine placement in a Tier III intervention. The instruction is highly customized to improve and accelerate student learning.  Progress monitoring is more frequent and instruction is adjusted based on individual student needs.  Data is entered into the eStar program and is monitored by principals and the district’s RtI and Dyslexic personnel.  All of our campuses from grades kindergarten through twelfth grade have created intervention classes to address our students with the largest skill deficits.   Weekly PLC’s discuss student performance and track the overall progress of our most struggling learners.  Our Tier 3  interventionists are highly trained specialists in a specific content area who work closely with students to close large gaps of student learning.  These specialists are more knowledgeable with the diverse learning styles of students who may have dyslexia, dysgraphia, or are cognitively and behaviorally challenged.  Other specialists may work with students who simply do not know the English language.

 

In addition our district has had to come to terms with  recognizing that poverty and a student’s socioeconomic status may create increased challenges and barriers for learning.  Utilizing the work of Buffum, Mattos and Weber in their book Uniting Academic and Behavior Interventions, we realized that certain student behaviors were oftentimes the antecedent to their academic struggles.  Our district has assessed this problem and now employbehaviorists and licensed school psychologists to address the social emotional needs of these students.  Our goal is to reduce referrals to special education by improving our systems of intervention which ultimately improves student success.

Our culture exemplifies “It’s up to WE, not ME,” to ensure that all students receive quality instruction and appropriate and timely interventions for closing their learning gaps.  Our district is committed to the concept of learning for “each” student, and we are very intentional about the quality of instruction and lesson delivery for our struggling students.  We avoid what we call “random variation” and have become intentional on our systems, programs, methodology, and positive student relationships to guarantee that each student receives whatever additional support is needed.

Evidence:

Sample of Elementary Master Schedule

Sample of Middle School Master Schedule

 

Sample of HS Master Schedule

Sample of High School PLC Teams

Sample of Goal Setting for RtI

 

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

When you have signed a contract to work for Brazosport Independent School District, you have passed an assessment from Chapter 8, page 191 in Learning By Doing that addresses the question:  Is This Candidate a Good Fit for Our PLC? We start Day 1 of our Teacher Induction Program letting all of our brand new teachers and teachers new to our district know that our district and each school operates in a culture of collaboration that ensures learning at high levels with a focus on results!  At the end of the BISD Teacher Induction, everyone must recite and act out the three main ideas of a professional learning community; we begin learning a common vocabulary from Day 1.  As we say in BISD in regards to professional learning communities, “That’s just how we roll!!!”

A brand new-to-the-field first year teacher is assigned a mentor, and we strive diligently to ensure that the mentor is not only from the same field (job-alike) but is also in close proximity to the new teacher.  Additionally, principals  make every effort to ensure that the new teacher shares a common planning period with members of the grade-level or course specific collaborative team. Like teaching, we feel that a new teacher’s responsibility should not fall solely to the mentor teacher, but with  every member of the collaborative team. Additionally, the principal and assistant principals share in making the first year teaching experience a success for our new-to-the-field teachers. Our principals and/or our assistant principals meet monthly or quarterly with our new teachers to “check in”  to share best practices, troubleshoot any discipline issues, inspire, and celebrate them for choosing this noble teaching profession. 

We also understand the value of time and ensuring that campus master schedules allow for teachers to meet consistently to share and grow their skills while creating a community of trust.  Elementary and middle school teachers meet weekly for a minimum of 55 to 120 minutes, depending on individual schedules.  Teachers are organized as grade-level and/or department teams and a leader is selected to set up the weekly meetings and drive the agenda.  Data spreadsheets and meeting agendas are kept and monitored by campus principals.  District leaders require campus principals to upload PLC artifacts into electronic folders.  Principals and district personnel provide training to each leader in meeting management tools, creating team norms and team roles, and ensuring that the focus of the meetings involves rich discussion to assess and improve student learning.  At the high school level, our core teachers meet three times a week for 130 minutes and district instructional coaches work with our teams to enhance their skills and identify instructional techniques and student learning styles that improve student outcomes.  Our high school Career and Technology teachers and elective teachers have common daily lunch periods and meet on district campus and PD days (six per year) where they engage and exchange effective instructional strategies.

In addition, our Special Education and Language Acquisition Department meets as a weely PLC with our district content specialists to review and discuss curriculum and campus progress on meeting specific TEKS objectives that align with our state curriculum.  These specialists then work with campus grade level and department PLC’s to identify students who are in need of additional assistance while also providing wrap-around services  that enhance student achievement. To ensure our teachers are involved in driving our student outcomes, we have also created “guiding coalitions.” These powerful teams work collaboratively with our district content coordinators and specialists to ensure annual curriculum alignment, improvement of grading practices, and creating curriculum frameworks with resources from high performing campus teams to showcase lessons, assessments, and other resources that enhance student performance. Such archives of evidence include our standards based report cards which are now being utilized for Pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade and the development of our curriculum framework and Tier 1 Priorities to comprehensively guide and enhance instruction.  As our teachers become more involved in these processes, their understanding and trust for each other builds the collaboration needed to ensure successful student improvement. 

Over the last five years, our district has attended the PLC institute in San Antonio sending over 200 participants annually.  Our teachers and staff members are well versed in Dufour’s Learning by Doing and our campus PLC practices reflect collaboration and trust.  We have sent teams of teachers to RtI at Work professional development activities which have significantly enhanced our abilities and instructional practices to effectively intervene in a timely manner when students are struggling.  We have employed the resources of Global PD on several of our campuses to help with coaching, implementing SMART goals, and providing us dialogue to get through challenging conversations.  In conclusion, we believe and reflect yearly (utilizing rubrics in Learning By Doing) on evaluating each individual campus team’s performance and their impact on student outcomes. Team reflections are encouraged to ensure that our focus is always on the “right work” and not on “drama”.  We continuously ask the question “are we focusing on creating a culture of collaboration that yields high results?  Have we worked as a “group” or have we worked as a “team?”  We strive to have our focus always on the “right work” where much is shared, much is learned and celebrated, but is always on what will best support our students.

 Evidence:

Sample of SMART Goals High School

Sample of SMART Goals Middle School

Sample of SMART Goals Elementary

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Secondary Information

In Brazosport ISD, we strive to ensure that all students not only learn at high levels, but also have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning at high levels as they transition to opportunities in college, career, and/or military.  For the past several years, students have had the following opportunities to show what they know and stimulate meaningful conversations about life after high school:

  • Free SAT testing for all juniors.

  • Free NMSQT testing for all juniors

  • Free PSAT testing for all sophomores

  • Free PSAT 8 testing for all 8th-grade students

  • Free AP testing for all students enrolled in AP courses

We know that economic barriers can prevent students from having access to life opportunities.  The Board of Trustees has invested greatly in the future of our students by providing these opportunities.  Our teachers, counselors, and administrators have meaningful conversations with students about these results and what they mean with students.  

Another exciting barrier that has been removed this year at the secondary level for our students is the financial cost of dual credit courses.  Brazosport ISD has partnered with our local community college to cover all tuition and fees for any 2 dual credit courses per semester for students.  This has opened the door for many of our students who live in poverty to explore how successful they can be in college-level courses at our local community college.

 

Awards and Recognitions

  1. BISD Receives 31 State Distinctions (gaining 15 over previous year)

  2. Four Schools Named International Model PLC Schools - 2020 PLC at Work (Polk, Lanier, FIS, FES) *Polk - 2017 - 2020, * Lanier and FIS -2018-2020

  3. BISD was a finalist for the Holdsworth Center’s Leadership Program (HEB)

  4. BISD Board of Trustees Named one of only five finalists for HEB’s 2018 Excellence in Education School Board/Leadership Award

  5. Four schools named as 2020 Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools (3 in 2019, 4 in 2018)

  6. In 2020 Six BISD Schools Designated as No Place for Hate Campuses in 2019 and 2020

  7. BISD Named as Best Communities for Music Education Award in both 2019 and 2020

  8. BISD Earns 30+ State Awards for Publications and Media in 2019 and 2020

  9. Superintendent Danny Massey - Region IV Superintendent of the Year 2020

  10. District Receives Million Dollar Endowment from MEGlobal for Dual Credit

  11. Spatial Temporal Math Acknowledgement (video w/data for math achievement)

  12. Special Education Achievement Award with CITES



 

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