California Elementary

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

Inspired by a speaker on Professional Learning Communities during the summer of 2017, our principal took a team of teachers to San Diego, California, for Solution Tree's PLC at Work Conference in the fall.  We were challenged to really think about how we worked in collaborative teams. Were we systematic and strategic in our planning and processes around the four critical questions? Were our decisions truly based on the evidence - the data? Were our collaborative teams interdependent? Were we intentional around reteaching, intervening, and enriching the learning experiences for all students?  During the team planning session in San Diego, one of the teachers challenged the team with, "So, this is all great but what are we going to do differently when we get back?" In that moment, our team committed to leading the process and taking the action steps necessary for change.

The team from San Diego shared their excitement and learning regarding the PLC process with the rest of our Cheetah family during staff professional development times.  Immediately our collaborative teams began the work of reflecting on the effectiveness of their collaborative team, norm-setting, and identifying essential standards.  As a collective group of educators, we worked through creating a new mission statement.  Funds were allocated for roving substitute teachers, providing collaborative teams release time within their contractual day to focus on true collaboration around the four critical questions. Our Leadership Team took on the commitment of being our PLC Guiding Coalition.

In the fall of 2018, we returned to the PLC Conference in Long Beach, California, with a team including our principal. The collective thought at that team planning session in Long Beach was... we need to do more! Again, our collaborative teams were focused on the work of identifying essentials, creating common assessments, sharing results by student and by standard, and working together to determine best practices to reteach, intervene, and enrich our students' learning experiences.

In January 2019, we brought in a trainer from Solution Tree and worked together with going deeper in the process of unwrapping standards. And in the summer of 2019, our principal took another team to the PLC Conference in San Jose, California. Our outstanding educators were committed to the process and our teams continued to work and learn together ensuring the ongoing essential work with the core elements of the PLC process.

While on our journey, student achievement results showed what we were doing was working.  School-wide state testing results were increasing and our school began receiving awards in recognition of our achievements.

California Elementary is a Professional Learning Community.  To inspire our teachers, reset our focus, and go even deeper with the four critical questions in a virtual world challenged by a global pandemic, our school was honored to have Mike Mattos present to our teachers on January 25, 2021. Our collaborative teams continue to be focused on the work.  There is definitely a collective responsibility to do what's best for all our students. California Elementary School has been forever changed by our PLC journey.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Site-based collaborative teams have identified the essential standards with the support of all teachers in vertical articulation teams.  Collaborative teams have created shared resources to support the PLC process and the implementation of learning targets.  Our teacher teams meet regularly (weekly if possible based on substitute teacher availability through district) to continuously monitor progress to ensure student learning. Lessons and learning tasks are planned in collaboration and built on the targeted standards. Collaborative teams monitor student progress using common criteria and assessments.  To support our teams our principal and teacher on special assignment work together with our teachers allocating resources for the PLC process. Reports measuring student progress are discussed and plans are put into action supporting interventions and enrichment opportunities for students. Our district supports Clever, a digital learning platform for students, teachers, and administrators to assist with connecting to educational programs, curriculums, and assessment reports benefiting timely feedback while monitoring student progress. Students are also engaged in goal setting and monitoring their own learning with many of the educational programs we use at our site.

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

Several years back our district started a Reading Initiative for elementary students in Kinder through 4th grade.  Our school is a unique configuration serving students in upper elementary, grades 3 through 6.  When this reading initiative started, our site teacher on special assignment along with two part-time reading teachers worked with our classroom teachers for an intentional time of focused reading instruction. When these reading groups started, our principal proposed piloting the curriculum and supports to include our 5th and 6th grade students needing specific reading intervention.  From the beginning of this initiative, our school created a school-wide block schedule for systematic reading instruction.  Based on data, students receive targeted instruction for intervention without missing core, new instruction from their homeroom teacher. All reading teachers and grade level teachers were involved in their common block of time for Reading Learning Groups prior to COVID.  The 2020-2021 school year started with distance learning, we were challenged to provide the same level of strategic reading intervention virtually.  Our teacher on special assignment did an exceptional job collaborating with our teacher teams to provide intensive reading instruction and progress monitoring even in our virtual and hybrid learning environments. This year we are back to in-person instruction.  Strategic progress monitoring is done frequently to ensure students are learning the foundational skills necessary to improve reading fluency and comprehension.

When our school started attending PLC conferences back in 2017, there was a strong focus and plan with reading, so we looked deeper at our math scores and instruction.  We looked at the data, identified essentials, and had vertical articulation meetings with teachers.  Grade level teams were sharing best practices for reteaching, intervention, and enrichment in math.  Some grade levels shared students, while others taught math sometimes twice a day.  Using common assessments and exit tickets, students were regrouped as needed based on a skill or concept within the instructional day to ensure additional support for learning was available to all students.

In addition to targeted small group instruction within the school day, our collaborative teams also looked at supplemental programs for students in the areas of reading and math.  Our online educational programs provide individualized, intensive support by skill to support learning and extend learning opportunities.  Are we using data from these programs regularly with students?  Monitoring student progress within our programs and common assessments have become part of data conversations and goal-setting meetings with students. Our teacher teams use this information for monitoring progress, reteaching, intervention, and enrichment experiences for our students. The four critical questions of the PLC process are embedded in our collaborative work and keep our focus on student learning.  

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

Taking teacher teams to PLC Conferences and bringing in professional trainers from Solution Tree to deepen our work in the PLC process has helped us build capacity.  Our teachers work in collaborative teams based on the grade levels they teach. Our educational specialists work closely with general education teachers in our collaborative teams to support the collaboration between special education and general education.

To support our high-performing teacher teams, roving substitute teachers are provided to give teams approximately 60 minutes weekly for collaboration within their contractual day. Part of our journey of building capacity with our collaborative teams was working in vertical articulation teams organized by our site principal.  Vertical articulation meetings were planned in advance with teachers returning to the same vertical team each year.  During vertical articulation meetings, teachers shared their essential standards, teaching strategies, and brought student work to share out.  And through the years, articulation meetings were also held with the primary school (TK-2nd Grade) for the students we receive in 3rd grade.

To ensure our collaboration time is a top priority, substitute teachers are arranged for in advance by our principal to support collaboration time within the contractual day.  Each year a schedule is created for teacher teams with dedicated collaboration time using roving substitute teachers.  This school year, we have been challenged with staffing shortages, impacting our ability to have regular roving subs for teacher release time.  To hold tight to the PLC process, our early release Wednesdays for staff professional development are dedicated to our collaborative teams so that our teachers are getting time to collaborate.  Our PLC Guiding Coalition team continues to meet regularly, supporting action steps necessary to keep our focus on student learning.  Returning to in-person instruction after a year of distance learning and a hybrid model has proven to be an extremely difficult year.  However, our teachers have done a phenomenal job working together to ensure improved student learning outcomes while providing the necessary support to students academically and emotionally.

Improving student learning is at the forefront of our decisions.  Resources are allocated based on data and improving student learning. Our dedicated teacher teams are committed and we continue to learn together in the PLC collaborative process.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

California Elementary serves students in grades 3-6. 

For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, the state assessment was not administered due to COVID. 

Our district used iReady Diagnostics as our local assessment.  In addition to iReady, our school also used Achieve3000 to monitor student progress. For the 2020-2021 school year, the school-wide average Lexile increased 102 L points as measured by Achieve3000.  

2022  Best Elementary Schools by US News and World Report

2021  PLC Model School by Solution Tree

2019, 2020, 2021 National Showcase School with Capturing Kids' Hearts

2020 Top Schools in Los Angeles County by Innovative Schools

2020 Honor Roll School by Educational Results Partnership