George Washington Academy

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

George Washington Academy started its PLC journey in the summer of 2018.  Teachers wanted a clearer and more concise way to focus on student learning gaps and target their instruction through data. This led to a new vision of building on the three big ideas of a PLC:  a focus on learning, building a collaborative culture, and a focus on results.

In the Fall of 2018, GWA sent 3 team leads, one administrator, and our instructional coach to the PLC Conference in Salt Lake City. Throughout the course of the conference, many discussions were had of things that needed to happen almost immediately to have the effect that the teachers desired. 

Identifying the right people for the leadership team was essential from the beginning. We needed people who had the same vision of learning for ALL. We needed people that saw what the end results could be through a collaborative community. After the leadership team was established schedules had to be revamped so that teachers were able to meet with their grade levels in a collaborative meeting that focused on these four questions: 

  • What do we want all students to know and be able to do?
  • How will we know if they learn it?
  • How will we respond when some students do not learn?
  • How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

After schedules were changed and modified it was important to develop a time where students that needed intervention or extensions could receive those accommodations during the school day without missing  Tier 1 content and instruction. Our faculty dove into the book 'Taking Action" wherein every faculty meeting we would focus on a key component and implement the necessary steps immediately. A person from the leadership team was assigned to each grade level collaborative team to support their implementation of the process. This created a shared vision and mission for the PLC and RTI process and we were developing the "HOW" together. 

As part of the "HOW," we embedded a tier 2 time we call 'Patriot Time,' where students with the same skill deficits or skill proficiencies are instructed by individual teachers or by intervention support staff. Grade level teams look at the data collected in collaborative meetings where a shared vision centered around the achievement of SMART goals is shared and reflection takes place through these questions:

  1. What was effective?

  2. Are we focused on the correct Essential Standard?

  3. Did all students make acceptable proficiency/growth? If not, what are we going to do to ensure they meet the goal?

 
With this framework, grade level teams now collaborate at the beginning of each year to identify essential standards. Teachers then develop learning cycles within their teams to provide intensive intervention or extension activities and develop common formative assessments to guide student learning in Tier 1 and in Tier 2. Teachers are constantly focused on these chosen essential standards and know where every student in their grade level is on their path to becoming proficient in the standard. 
 
Throughout this process, students may still be struggling and we have developed a Student Support Team where we focus on diagnosing, targeting, prioritizing, and monitoring possible Tier 3 interventions. We meet weekly to create a plan to support the student as well as the teacher to ensure that no student is falling through the crack whether emotionally, academically, or behaviorally. This team is made up of a counselor, social worker, instructional coach, administration, and a special education representative. 
 
Throughout the year our teachers receive monthly professional development opportunities focusing on student data, we call these meetings, "Deep Data Dives" where teachers analyze the data and research ways to fill in the gaps of student learning. 
 
Throughout this foundational journey, we have learned that collaboration is essential for us to truly focus on student learning. We now know how to create common assessments that provide us with data that we know how to analyze. We now have the time and the support necessary to provide an environment where all students of any background can be successful. This framework has changed the culture of our school not only for students but for their families and the staff as well. At the beginning where collaboration may have felt like an assignment for us, it is now a part of who we are and what we expect in order to enhance the learning of ALL students. 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

GWA teachers understand the vital role they play in educating K-7 students. Teachers meet weekly to analyze common formative assessments and to provide feedback and support for each other of where to go in their instruction to meet the needs of ALL students. Grade level teams see all of the grade level students as their students. Teachers work together to provide explicit skill-based instruction, intervention, and extensions that create an equitable environment for students of varying backgrounds. Teachers immediately develop a plan for each individual student of how to best meet their needs. 

As a Leader in Me school students also track their own progress on their personal and academic goals. Students see first hand the impact that individualized instruction has on their success for long-term and short-term goals. Depending on their individual skill levels students are also progressed weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Students track their steps as they move towards becoming proficient in the learning targets and essential standards.

 

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

At GWA we follow an intentional RTI framework founded on the basis of meeting kids where they are at and pushing them to not only meet the agreed-upon essential standards, but also personal academic goals. Every student receives additional time and support needed to learn at high levels. We realize all students learn at a different pace and in different ways. In addition to their regular class time, our Tier 2 time, Patriot Time is designed to meet the needs of ALL students in a focused meaningful way that adds to their learning experience. Students are identified by common formative assessments and placed in similar skill-based groups that use research-based intervention and extension models within their grade level.

Students move from group to group throughout the year based on their individual needs and information that weekly data is providing. The groups are focused on learning targets and essential standards that the grade level teams have set. This time is also set aside to celebrate individual growth. We are committed to making sure that all students will learn at high levels and are provided the necessary skills to succeed in life and at school. 

All of our interventionists are trained in research-based interventions from the University of Utah. These interventions are focused on foundational skills necessary for success in reading. All Special Education and ELL blocks follow the same schedule during the day so that students are involved in the Tier 1 setting as much as possible. The greatest intervention for all students is a solid Tier 1 foundation. Our teachers are trained in the University of Utah Tier 1 Text and Writing model where teachers use engagement strategies, skills, and frameworks for students to succeed no matter their individual skill level.

 

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

Commitment is a vital component of collaborative teams at GWA. Teachers remain committed to student learning and growth. Professional development is offered on a bi-monthly basis to ensure that teachers understand how to write and create common formative assessments, how to analyze student data, how to differentiate their instruction for high-level learners and students that have academic and behavioral deficiencies. Every year teacher teams meet with the grade above and below them to help determine missing skills that the grades surrounding them are showing to influence their essential standards. Teachers follow a school-wide agenda that outlines the four questions of collaboration and follows a framework that is focused on student learning. Throughout the year we send 12 teachers and staff members to a Solution Tree Conference focused on the PLC framework or RTI structure. Our teachers are encouraged to work within their strengths and to build trust within their teams so that they can talk about data in a way that is centered around students and not around teachers. 

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Our school continues to focus on Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 data. Each grade level has a spreadsheet that tracks Common Formative Assessments and is color-coded of how each student is doing as they work towards becoming proficient in their grade-level essential standards. Each assessment has a designed focus towards a learning target, or a step to help them reach the essential standard. Our school-wide Patriot Time is scheduled for 40 minutes a day to support individual learner progression with interventions or possible extension activities. 

2021 Charter School of the Year - Utah

2013 Charter School of the Year -Utah

STEM Designated School - Utah

2020 School Board of the Year- Utah

2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Niche.com #1 Elementary & Middle School in Utah

2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Niche.com #1 Teacher Quality in Utah

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