Hackett Elementary School

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

Built Shared Understanding and Commitment:

In the 2016-2017 school year I became the principal of Hackett Elementary.  I had previously been a classroom teacher here at Hackett for 21 years.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I had struggled with the reality of working alone.  Although I had always had a teaching partner and we shared struggles and ideas, we were never a true learning community.  Each teacher was truly an island unto themselves responsible for the learning and growth of their students with little to no support system. My last year in the classroom our principal had reworked our school schedule so that grade level bands had PLC time; however these meetings were nothing more than sessions for teachers to air complaints and grievances. We "had" PLC time; we were not a professional learning community. 

During the 2017-2018 school year I attended a leadership academy through Arkansas Tech University and met Robyn Dawson, principal of Spradling Elementary.  It was while  attending this academy with Robyn and hearing of the amazing success her school was having in achieveing student improvement that I inquired of her what their secret was.  Robyn informed me that her school had received a Professional Learning Community Cohort Grant from the Arkansas Department of Education and had embarked on this journey with Solution Tree.  I began researching professional learning communities and Solution Tree in particular, and realized that this was what my staff and students needed.  That school year I applied for the PLC Cohort Grant but was not selected.  Determined to find a way to bring this type of professional development to my staff, I contacted Solution Tree for a quote for services. Armed with my quote,I approached my superintendent and my board of directors seeking the funding I needed to contract with Solution Tree.  Much faith is placed in me and the decisions I make by my board and superintendent. My request for funding was granted and in the fall of 2018 our PLC journey and the complete transformation of our school began. 

Our first step in becoming a professional learning community was establishing a guiding coalition.  Our teaching staff had never had any type of leadership team so this was a big transition for us. Our first training as a guiding coalition was attending a two-day Solution Tree Summer Institute hosted by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.  This training set the foundation for what our guiding coalition would become.  This was our first glimpse into becoming a professional learning community, not having PLC time.

Our journey was a bit more complicated than others as our district had annexed the neighboring Hartford School District three years earlier.  It was financially not feasible to keep the Hartford school open and in the fall of 2018 we closed that campus and brought those students and teachers to the Hackett campus.  Not only were we embarking on a journey to become a professional learning community but a unified staff from two campuses as well. 

In the Fall of 2018, Mandy Barrett became our kick-off associate and spent the day with our staff working on the definition of a professional learning community.  It has not been until this school year, our third year on this journey, that we truly understand and have evidence of this "ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve." Our teachers are deeply steeped in and committed to the process of identifying essential standards and becoming "insanely clear" on what we want students to learn, writing collaborative units of study and common formative assessments, and using data to drive our instruction.  The four critical questions permeate everything we do as a school.  We have created a collaborative culture and have taken on the collective responsibility for the learning and growth of ALL students in our school. 

Facilitating a Culture of Continuous Improvement:

A culture of learning with high expectations for ALL students and believing that ALL children can learn at high levels is what drives the focus at Hackett Elementary.  Before we began our PLC journey we had already begun to make great improvements to our RTI process.  As we began our PLC journey we realized that we had been focusing soley on intervention. After learning how to identify essential standards, write and analyze assessment data, we were able to tighten up our curriculum.  We found immediate holes in our Tier 1 instruction and realized that when we, as teams, all had the same level understanding of the essential standards, were cohesive in what we were teaching and analyzed data to drive instruction, that fewer students needed true Tier 2 interventions. 

Our next step in facilitating a culture of continuous improvement was to take a hard look at our special education program.  We were still utilizing the traditional resource setting for our students identified as needing special education.  After many discussions with our Guiding Coalition and grade level teams of what having high expectations for all students looked like and what a true least restrictive environment was, we made the decision to embark on inclusion for these students.  Our special education students now stay in the classroom with our special education teachers pushing in to co-teach and for support.  Our special education students are truly thriving!  Leaving them with their peers in the classroom where the rich Tier 1 curriculum is taught with the classroom teacher who is the curriculum specialist has been a game changer not only for our students but for our whole school.  We truly have an understanding of building a culture of high expectations and learning at high levels for ALL students!

 








 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

1. Monitor student learning on a timely basis.

When we began this process, we did so with access to a plethora of student data and no real understanding of how to apply that knowledge in meaningful ways. This limited the impact we were able to make on student achievement and left teachers feeling ineffective. As we have progressed throughout this journey, we have gained valuable insight into the importance of having the right data and knowing how to use it to promote student success. 

  • The daily schedule is built in such a way that teachers have no less than two meeting times per week to collaborate. For grades K-1, an extra collaboration time has been built into the schedule each week. 

  • Collaborative teams work together to identify essential standards in each subject area. These essential standards are aligned vertically to ensure that students' needs are being met across all areas of instruction. The standards are also divided into units that give appropriate time for teaching based on the depth of knowledge required for mastery. 

  • The 4 critical questions are used to determine exactly what each student is expected to know and how they will demonstrate mastery. This also allows teachers to plan for students that have already mastered the standard or who need additional support to reach mastery. 

  • CFAs are given throughout units to determine how well the students are progressing towards mastery. 

  • Data protocols are used to analyze assessments and determine the next steps for instruction. This allows teachers to identify those students who need enrichment or additional instruction. 

  • Teachers offer support to students that need the additional help by reteaching or teaching the concept in another way. If this is not effective, literacy and math specialists are available to provide extra support. 

  • The onsite literacy specialist analyzes and monitors literacy data and is responsible for grouping students for tier II and III intervention. 

  • Response to Intervention (RtI) meetings have been moved online to allow them to happen more frequently. This allows the team to act more quickly in response to struggling students. 

  • A Super Improver Wall and Whole Brain teaching are used to motivate students both academically and behaviorally. 

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

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

Even with top notch core instruction, there will still be some students that need additional support to be successful. Building a system to support struggling students has been a work in progress. Each year, we adjust our plan to make the time spent intervening with students as effective as possible. Hackett Elementary has worked hard to build a system that uses data to determine the best plan of action for each student and utilizes frequent progress monitoring to ensure that interventions are working.

  • RTI meetings are held regularly to monitor progress of students, determine next steps for struggling students, and to discuss the results of interventions and or assessments. These meetings have moved from face-to-face to virtual to allow teachers to meet more often and more quickly respond to the needs of students. 

  • Screening data is used to identify students that are at-risk for reading difficulties due to dyslexia. Students that are identified are then tested and given dyslexia intervention to help address reading deficits. 

  • Double dose lessons in phonics are provided each day in kindergarten through third grade. This provides support for students to keep them from falling behind in current reading instruction. 

  • Collaborative teams have chosen essential standards for all grade levels. Collaboration with math and literacy specialists allows teams to align their standards horizontally and vertically. 

  • The use of screening and diagnostic assessments allow teachers to identify at-risk students and drill down to find specific areas of deficit.

  • Hackett Elementary implemented a school wide intervention program to help meet the literacy needs of all students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Walk-to intervention occurs Monday through Thursday for forty minutes each day and utilizes all support staff to assist in various areas, including intervention and enrichment. 

  • Progress monitoring occurs for walk-to-intervention groups every three weeks using diagnostic assessments aligned to the intervention program, as well as with DIBELS materials. This allows the Literacy Specialist and classroom teachers to determine how effective the interventions have been for each student. 

  • Data from MAP and DIBELS are updated on spreadsheets by classroom teachers. This ensures that every student who needs supplemental intervention will get it.  

  • Hackett Elementary scheduled remediation times into our master schedule, so that students do not miss core instruction. This provides the students with the intensive remediation that is needed without sacrificing core instruction.

  • Our school counselor provides social emotional assistance to all students kindergarten through sixth grade. If our school counselor is available, she attends team meetings to help teachers with skills to assist students with social emotional issues and provide them with guidance. Once a month, she attends each classroom for forty minutes to provide students with guidance lessons and life skills.  

  • Upper elementary teachers have implemented WIN time, “what I need” time, to address the gaps in learning. This time also provides the team opportunities for small group instruction. WIN time is scheduled daily from 10:35 - 11:00.

  • Interventions are critical in the classroom as well to provide Tier 2 instruction to students. Paraprofessionals at Hackett also play a vital role in this step. Many of them assist teachers with small groups for Tier 2 instruction. All staff is committed to meeting students where they are at and assisting them. 

  • Hackett Elementary offers tutoring for students who need additional support in learning. Tutoring is offered twice a week and is free for all students. Tutoring is another way that teachers are providing support for struggling students. 

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

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

At Hackett Elementary, teamwork is the key to success and no teacher works in isolation. Understanding the importance of collaboration is key to the effectiveness of our PLC journey. That hasn’t always been the norm. At the beginning of our PLC journey, each teacher was teaching their own material, planning their own lessons, and there was a lack of cohesiveness throughout the school. Hackett saw that this would not support the needs of all students and embedded opportunities for teachers to meet in collaborative teams to unpack essential standards, build units, create assessments, discuss data, and determine interventions based on needs.

  • The Four Critical Questions, Hackett’s Mission and Vision Statements, and team norms drive the PLC process. Teachers use the results of common assessments to group and regroup students - sharing students between teachers and sometimes between grade levels.  

  • Each teacher is part of a collaborative team. Initially, teams met once a week for forty minutes to conduct formal meetings, but in subsequent years this changed to eighty minutes of protected time. This allows teams to build cohesive units of instruction and assessments to drive the instruction and meet the needs of all students.

  • A guided agenda is used to keep focus on the four critical questions so that everything in collaboration time is done with purpose. Team meetings include time to celebrate the successes of teachers and students. 

  • Inclusion of special education teachers in grade-level teams allows teachers to learn from each other. We are increasing our capacity to differentiate and meet the needs of students with special needs. 

  • Materials are located on a shared drive within our G-Suite that is accessible to all teachers, support staff, administrators, and literacy specialists.  

  • Teachers collaborate with lead math and literacy teachers to strengthen units and assessments. This helps ensure the vertical alignment of both literacy and math essential standards. 

  • Teachers collaborate with Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Physical Therapists to ensure that every student’s needs are met daily.

  • The Leadership Team meets bimonthly to develop educational policies for our school and make resources available for staff members.

  • The RTI committee focuses on determining how best to support the needs of struggling students. 

  • Assessment data is used to build SMART goals based on student needs. These goals consider the needs both horizontally across grade-level teams, as well as vertically across different grade levels.The goals keep teams focused on improving student learning.

  • Data is no longer used  to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, but to improve teaching practices and to guide instructional decisions. Teachers are no longer working in isolation but are relying on each other to meet their students’ needs through their collective learning.

 



 

2018 PBS Series "Heart of a Teacher" Recipient-Nancy Foot

2018-2019 ALE Highest Achieving Program in state of Arkansas on ACT Aspire for ELA, Math and Science

2018 Arkansas Rural Educators Association Teach of the Year-Val Harp

2018 St. Louis Federal Reserve Education Committee Member-Val Harp

2019 Aspire ELA Alignment Panel-Val Harp

2018-2019 School letter grade rating went from a C to a B

2018 School was visited by Congressman Steve Womack to view our robotics and STEM programs

2018 First Lego League Rookies of the Year

2019 First Lego League 1st Place Innovations

2019 Arkansas Department of Education Summer Summit Presenter-Wendy James

2019 REAL Conference Preseneter-Val Harp

2019-2020 Bessie B. Moore Award Winner Outstanding Economics Unit-Val Harp

2019-2020 Gifted and Talented Quizlet Winners

2019-2020 ACT 56 Winner Outstanding GT Teacher and Program-Gayla Edwards

2019-2020 University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Outstanding Intern-Madison Strunk, now a 4th grade teacher

2020-2021 Economics Arkansas Grant-Val Harp

2020-2021 Our school was chosen to participate in a three year research study by Northwestern University on dynamic science teaching in the elementary classroom

2019-2021 Alishia Best has been awarded three Donors Choose Grants

Note: You can see our Awards slideshow under resources

2019-2020 Cox Charities Grant $2500-Kindergarten Team

2020-2021  Cox Charities Grant $750-1st Grade Team

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