Huntsville Elementary School

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

Huntsville Elementary School’s PLC Journey

Year 1:  2017-2018

Our journey began at Huntsville Elementary over 4 years ago. The campus had experienced five (5) different principals in six (6) years, an 80% turnover rate of staff, no systems for planning, interventions or behavior, and an “improvement required” rating from the state (Appendix 19). Huntsville Elementary was in critical need of serious change. Once we were able to fill numerous vacant positions, the heavy work started. We began by surveying staff needs for personal and professional development, establishing a new master schedule, creating  mandatory Wednesday collaborative team meetings focused on the PLC process, and a priority was placed on establishing a positive school climate.  Due to the large number of first year teachers, we moved to establish new teacher support meetings twice per month.  Leadership meetings and campus committee meetings were created and established to promote a sense of staff belonging and ownership.  In year 1, we only had district level academic coaches and a minimum amount of district level support.  Support came from our Regional service center.  The Regional Service Center assisted the campus with creating intense school improvement plans required by the state.  By the end of year one, critical areas of support were established and systems began to take shape.  A climate and culture of trust and ownership began to emerge.  At the end of the year, even though campus data had improved, we were still rated an “improvement required” campus, and now we were looking at a Year 2 critical situation (Appendix 20). 

Year 2:  2018-2019

As a result of months of observations and feedback from staff, campus commitments began to be established.  Systems for instructional planning, lesson plan template, data tracking, interventions, positive behavior interventions and tutoring were developed.  Due to accountability and the severity of being an “improvement required” Year 2 campus, a large focus fell on 3rd and 4th grade data tracking in an effort to capture all students and improve upon STAAR results.  Wednesday collaborative team meetings became more about the learning and data and teachers began working together to improve upon our response to interventions.  We now have established a stable climate and culture focused on the PLC process.  We were now able to retain 90% of the staff.  We were able to gain academic coaches for Reading and Math and we were able to finalize our school improvement effort with the Regional Service Center. The district now had new leadership and our district leadership announced that we would be going into a partnership with Solution Tree.  By the end of year 2,  and with all of the efforts put in by staff, we were able to make great gains.  We had now achieved a campus rating of “C” as well as received 2 distinctions for our growth in math (Appendix 21). We knew that we were now on our way to something bigger than ourselves!!!

Year 3:  2019-2020

In year 3, while continuing to celebrate our success from year 2, we welcomed our new relationship with our Solution Tree Coach and we were  able to retain 98% of our staff which again helped to continue to strengthen our campus culture of learning, shared understandings and continuous student achievement.  We were able to complete a campus needs assessment (Appendix 22) with our coach, Robin Noble, and we were quite pleased that the majority of our areas fell in the practicing category with only a few areas still in attempting. This meant that we were now well on our way to embracing school improvement practices that would help us to leverage student learning and achievement. It was during this year that as a campus we began to identify essential standards and develop proficiency maps (Appendix 5) that would allow us to focus our efforts. Teachers were now collaborating around the essentials and monitoring their data frequently to guarantee that the standards were being met (Appendix 10).  It was during this year that we established an intense system of interventions shared by all grade levels (Appendix 15).  We sent several staff members to the RTI at Work conference so that they could come back and share with the teams what they had learned.  Through the use of the RTI pyramid, teams began to share students through interventions.  These interventions focused on specific skills within the essentials.  Teachers were now able to track student progress in AWARE across all grade levels.  Just when we were getting really comfortable with the processes, COVID came and everything shifted.  Everything began to shift to at-home learning, and intense plans for online learning began.  There was no state assessment this year, but we were able to track steady improvements across the grade levels up to our dismissal for COVID.  

Year 4:  2020-2021

Our current year began with COVID being front and center and the constant question about student and staff health looming at every turn.  We had both online and in-person learning with some teachers having face-to-face and others just online students.  The campus started the year with about 50% online learners and is currently at about 10% online (May, 2021).  Unit/lesson planning continued (Appendix 7) with Google Classroom becoming the online learning platform.  All things considered, we were able to still retain 98% of our staff, and solid systems continued to be in place.  With Karen’s help, we focused on continuing and tightening up our current practices as well as worked with our Guiding Coalition in becoming more learning focused rather than task focused (Appendix 23).  We continue to tighten up our practices with a great deal of focus on intervention across all grade levels (Appendix 15) while at the same time maintaining staff and student safety protocols.  All grade levels continue to track data (Appendix 10), paying close attention to deficits that have been caused by constant educational disruptions from COVID.  We are quite pleased that we have now established vertical teams that are planning across all grade levels and establishing baselines for required skills (Appendix 14).  As a campus, we have been able to also shift to all online assessments.  Even though our state has granted a reprieve from accountability this year, we are still holding ourselves accountable for the data we receive and plan to continue to tighten up our efforts around what is truly essential.  

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Over the last four years, Huntsville Elementary has gone from a campus of turmoil and survival, to one where student achievement is the primary focus. As we have learned and tightened up the PLC process, our culture has positively shifted and we understand the importance of facing the facts with our current reality and continually adjusting to do what is best for our students. 

Prior to the start of the school year in 2020-2021, we prioritized Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) as essential standards using Solution Tree’s R.E.A.L criteria. Teachers then worked in collaborative grade level teams to appropriately place the standards on proficiency maps (Appendix 4 & 5). Throughout the school year, teams have worked collaboratively to unpack those standards and create learning targets to ensure that each team member understands the depth and rigor required to teach them. Our teams let the four PLC questions guide their discussions during each collaborative team time so that the focus stays on the students. Teams use our district pacing calendar and unit guide templates (Appendix 7) to backwards design their units, beginning with the creation of the unit assessment. 

Our data system, Eduphoria-Aware, allows teachers to immediately see their student assessment data once each student completes the assessment. Teachers use our campus data protocol documents (Appendix 9) to track their individual student data and guide them in planning for intervention and extension groups. These documents also allow our teachers to help guide students in goal setting (Appendix 11) and tracking of their goals. Along with our data document, we also track student reading levels and created a data wall for teachers to visually see reading level progress (Appendix 16). Instructional Coaches break down the data by teacher and sub-pop for each grade level and input the data into a campus spreadsheet (Appendix 10). Teachers believe all students can learn and specifically look at sub-pops on their grade level data document to assess if certain populations require additional intervention over others. 

Teachers reflect back after each unit assessment to see where students struggled and make necessary adjustments for interventions and extension groups. The learning targets that were developed from unpacked essential standards allow our teachers to verbalize the part(s) of the standard that the student struggled with. This reflection process also allows teachers to share instructional strategies that were successful with each other as a result of teachable moments that were not necessarily on a lesson plan. Our teachers’ work in this process has ensured that our students at Huntsville Elementary are being taught a guaranteed and viable curriculum, learning at high levels, and their progress is continually being monitored and appropriately adjusted.

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

In the fall of 2017, we began our adventure at Huntsville Elementary School, a pressing issue was our master schedule. The master schedule did not have a designated time for interventions during the school day. The schedule also revealed that teachers were working in isolation when providing prescriptive interventions for their students. 

During 2017-2018, each team had an intervention time (Appendix 1). This was a time period that was designated for students that needed dyslexia, LLI, or tier 3 math interventions. The reason for this change was because teachers were concerned that students who required Tier 3 interventions were missing classroom instruction, and therefore getting further behind.  

At the end of our first year at HES, and after many hours of reflection and deep conversations with teachers, we decided that we were ready to take interventions to the next level. For the 2018-2019 school year, we made a commitment to be laser precise with our designated intervention time slots. We continued with this being a designated time for Tier 3 interventions. The next layer that was added was using data to drive the intervention groups (Appendix 15). The goal was for teachers to discover that they have the skills and materials needed to assist their students at a Tier 2 level.   

Once 2019 STAAR scores were received and we knew that we were no longer an Improvement Required campus - we again had meaningful conversations about what worked and where the learning needed to go deeper. Having proven success in 3rd and 4th grade younger grades began to witness the benefits of sharing students during intervention time. 

As a campus we had worked hard to create a strong intervention plan that was to begin after spring break 2020. Then the world stopped because of COVID and we never returned to school in person. That did not stop HES. Our teachers quickly regrouped and 3rd and 4th grade teachers began offering interventions through zoom. At the time, we thought we would only be out a couple of weeks and then we would return to the STAAR assessment. 

HES was eccastic to be returning to face to face instruction in the fall of 2020.  We already had systems in place to begin to close the gaps lost at the end of the 19-20 school year. As we prepared for the 20-21 school year we had a sense of urgency to get our students back on track for academic success. Now more than ever we had to review the 4 PLC questions. Due to COVID protocols we could not share students during the fall semester. For the spring semester of 2021 we have our intervention groups back on track with the momentum that we left with in March of 2020.

As this school year concludes we are reflecting and planning for school wide prescriptive intervention plans in all grade levels to begin by the third week of school for the fall of 2021.

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

Too much work is required to improve student learning for teachers to succeed on their own. True collaboration among a school must happen. Our motto at Huntsville Elementary is, “It’s all about Success at HES,” and this means success for all students and teachers. Each year, SMART goals are established and we all work to collaboratively reach these goals, beginning with  our collective commitments (Appendix 2), as well as continually reviewing goals and restructuring them when necessary. Leaders are grown through our Guiding Coalition and ensure that each team is headed in the right direction and that all teachers are growing and learning as well as students. 

Building teacher capacity does not just happen; it takes strategic planning. As a campus we believe that teachers and students engage in learning when they are given choices and led by their peers. We believe in hosting professional development where they are allowed to choose courses (Appendix 17) and are encouraged to lead sessions about subjects they are strong in. We also know teacher practice is improved through truly learning essential standards and analyzing and collaboratively reflecting on common and formative assessment data. Therefore, we create time in our daily schedule for this. 

Teachers are on grade level as well as vertical teams. Grade level teams begin the year by evaluating essential standards (Appendix 3) and creating proficiency maps (Appendix 4 & 5). Teams meet weekly to collaboratively unpack essential standards (Appendix 6), design units (Appendix 7), create formative and summative assessments (Appendix 8), analyze data (Appendix 10) and reflect upon it using a campus data analysis protocol (Appendix 24) to create intervention and extension groups. Agendas are created with norms, jobs, and an outline of what will be discussed. These are sent out ahead of time to prepare teachers for the meeting. While at the meeting notes are taken and time is kept (Appendix 12). Lesson plans are created by each teacher and monitored weekly using the campus lesson plan rubric (Appendix 13). Teachers also meet quarterly with their vertical teams to ensure there is alignment with standards (Appendix 14) and that all grade levels are staying on track. These vertical teams include all specials teachers. These teachers discuss essential standards and daily incorporate them into their lessons. 

A shift has taken place at Huntsville Elementary from just teaching to learning among both teachers and students. Teachers and interventionists now meet regularly to complete campus data protocols and reflect on their individual and collective practices. This process has led to a common understanding of true interventions, extensions (Appendix 15 & 24) and shared, effective teaching strategies. Data is now analyzed skill by skill and student by student on a consistent basis. 

This work can not be done alone. At Huntsville Elementary, we believe in building the capacity of all staff, collaborating together, and owning all of our students.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

At Huntsville Elementary School, prior to COVID-19, we were making steady gains in Reading and Math from 2017-2019.  Our grade level teams collaborate after every assessment to make necessary planning and intervention adjustments aimed at meeting individual student needs.  Teams are provided this time during the instructional day, and the focus is on instruction around the essentials, student learning of specific skills, and data from formative and summative assessments.  This use of data results in teams creating intervention plans and sharing students to target the identified skills needed to reach proficiency of the standard.  Over the past three (3) years, our state achievement data has shown gains in all three (3) measured areas of reading, math, and writing.  The following increases are noted in (see Table A):  11% increase in Reading, 15% increase in Math (earning 2 distinction for growth measure), and a 21% increase in Writing.  

2018-2019 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR)

Distinction Designations:

Academic Achievement in Mathematics 

Top 25 Percent:  Comparative Academic Growth

 

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