Buckhorn Middle School
- Number of Students: 649
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 36.87%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0.59%
- Percent of Special Education: 12.09%
- White: 63.8%
- Black: 18%
- Hispanic: 4%
- Asian: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 11%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 2%
In the summer of 2017, Buckhorn Middle began to adopt best practices used by effective professional learning communities. Common planning times were built into our master schedule. Additionally, PLC procedural norms were adopted among our teacher teams during their routine meeting times, and roles were established for each member. Teachers collectively decided on essential standards and began to build a collaborative approach to planning, assessment creation, and data analysis. The PLC leads attended multiple trainings by solution tree in an effort to effectively train enough teachers to help model the collaborative culture that sustains continuous school improvement.
As the district adapted the RTI process to an upside down triangle that assigned Tier 2 intervention to the classroom teachers, the leadership team recognized a need for dedicated instructional time beyond Tier 1. In the fall of 2019, Buckhorn Middle School implemented an intervention block, Buck Browsing, built into our master schedule. This allowed for intentional, data driven, RTI intervention. Students not meeting proficiency for grade level standards were given this 50 minutes of additional instructional time to work on specific areas of weakness in order to exhibit mastery. For students who are achieving at or above grade level, there are learning extension opportunities provided during this time. Our teachers continuously monitor student performance and progress by utilizing formative assessments and the STAR progress monitoring system. By sharing collected data with their PLC, teachers more easily identify discrepancies among students. The conversations and support shown by their PLC groups more effectively meets the needs of struggling students, and a collective commitment to student performance is achieved. While the challenges of COVID-19 have placed limitations on group meetings in person, our teachers have continued to share collected data and monitor student progress in their small groups and by utilizing online meeting platforms. With the addition of Performance Matters, teachers are able to collectively disaggregate data while also having access to comparison data. In January 2021, or as soon as the challenge of COVID-19 allows, Buck Browsing will resume and coaching cycles will begin with our instructional coach. This will foster our collective commitment to student success.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
To create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum, Buckhorn Middle School, at the direction of the Madison County School District, worked in their professional learning communities to establish and select essential standards. These essential standards were then aligned with the classroom curriculum in order to narrow the focus to only those standards which are necessary for students to exhibit mastery in order to be successful. Once the essential standards were selected, teachers in their professional learning communities began to work on unpacking the standards. During this process, teachers determined the appropriate level of rigor as well as the independent student mastery piece for each standard. Correspondingly, they participated in the collaborative process of lesson design to ensure each lesson effectively covered the standards and aligned with classroom assessments. From here, teachers created common formative and summative assessments. The uniformity allowed teams to track student progress, share collective data, and provide intervention as needed. A school wide intervention program, Buck Browsing, was established and built into the master schedule to allow for dedicated, data driven, tier 2 instruction.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
In response to district training surrounding best practices in professional learning communities the school wide intervention system, Buck Browsing, was created at Buckhorn Middle School. Buck Browsing provides fifty minutes of weekly, dedicated intervention time for students. Professional learning community team meetings analyzed formative and summative assessment data to determine specific intervention groups. In an effort to protect tier 1 instructional time, the alternate Buck Browsing schedule on Wednesdays of each week, provided a dedicated tier 2 intervention block with little impact on the instructional day. This process allowed for flexibility in student intervention placement as students could attend different tier 2 intervention sessions weekly. Students not chosen by core area teachers for intervention attended various STEM related sessions. Careful consideration was taken to ensure students had the opportunity to explore the alternate sessions available. On a four week rotating schedule, rather than providing intervention, core area departments were able to focus on content enrichment activities with students that demonstrated mastery of current assessed standards.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Buckhorn Middle School’s PLC leads attended training provided by Madison County Schools through Solution Tree. The team attended quarterly meetings and participated in specific training related to PLC best practices. Likewise, those that attended participated in in-house professional development with their core area department members. Our administration offered quarterly professional development time by utilizing professional development funding that provided substitute teachers for half-day training for each core area member. Correspondingly, substitutes would cover two content areas in the AM and cover the other two content areas in the PM. Therefore, this lessened the impact on funding and reduced instructional interruptions for students. In addition to this, the master schedule was created to ensure that content area team members were provided with common planning time during the instructional day. Teams were instructed to create a team meeting schedule so that administrative and support staff members could attend, participate, and provide support in the collaborative process. Furthermore, teams were required to set norms, establish procedures, and assign roles to each team member. Periodic data meetings were scheduled with administration. This was an element of the progress monitoring system that directly aligned with Buckhorn Middle’s school improvement plan. Buckhorn Middle also dedicated one teaching unit to employ an instructional coach with extensive knowledge of the PLC process. This resource offered ongoing assistance for all PLC teams.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Based on the accountability indicators set by the Alabama State Department of Education, Buckhorn Middle School showed sustained achievement over the past 4 years. In the area of Academic Achievement, Buckhorn Middle saw almost a 10 point gain moving from 68.97% in 2015-16 to 77.85% in 2018-19, the last reported year. In the area of Academic Growth, showed a 7 point gain moving from 87.34% in 2016-17 to 94.84% in 2018-19, the last reported year. There was no data reported for Academic Growth in 2015-16. One of the areas we are most proud of is the reduction of Chronic Absenteeism, showing sharp declines over the past 3 years - 24.34% in 2017 to 18.84% in 2018 and finally dropping to 10.61% in 2019.
7-Time STEDTrain Grant Recipient
Common Sense Media Model School 2017
No Place for Hate 2017
Blue Ribbon School of Excellence 2018
Alabama Association of Middle Schools Principals - April McCutcheon, District 8 President
Teacher of the Year Wins/Nominations - Local & District Winner and State Finalist Stephanie Smith, Local Winner Mindy Pierce, Local Runner-Up Teresa McNeeley
Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools Certified Instructional Leader - Principal April McCutcheon 2016/Renewed 2020