Woodland Middle School at Euharlee (2023)
- Number of Students: 685
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 50%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 3%
- Percent of Special Education: 16%
- White: 75.8%
- Black: 7.1%
- Hispanic: 13.5%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.3%
- Multiracial: 2.9%
- Other: 0.4%
The summer of 2018 brought a new direction and sense of clarity for the Bartow County School System as school and central office leaders, led by our new superintendent, attended the Culture Keepers Conference in Atlanta. “Learning by doing” became the mantra for the Bartow County School System, and our PLC journey began. The focus was on the “right work,” developing a system implementation timeline, and the Bartow County PLC Playbook which enabled principals to model essential best practices within the schools. This group of leaders became the inaugural System Guiding Coalition and began to lay the groundwork in Bartow County for the PLC culture shift to collective efficacy within our system and individual schools.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the WMS leadership team assembled the WMS Guiding Coalition. As indicated in Learning by Doing, “If a mission is to be truly shared, it must be co-created, not sold, and co-creation requires a process that fully engages others” (DuFour, et al, 2016, p. 27). The school Guiding Coalition’s first meeting took place in January of 2019, and they began by studying Learning by Doing. The GC designed group Norms, a Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and our Collective Commitments.
The focus during the first year as a PLC was to build collective teacher efficacy by providing training and clarity in the PLC process. Teachers learned how to implement the Teaching Assessing Cycle utilizing the four guiding questions of the PLC process, specifically focusing on the first two guiding questions, “What do we want students to learn?” and “How will we know if they learned it?” (Mattos et al., 2016). Collaborative teams used the R.E.A.L. Criteria to identify essential standards to provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum to all students.
In the summer of 2019, the WMS Guiding Coalition attended the PLC at Work Institute in Atlanta and created a system-wide daily schedule that provides teachers time within the workday to focus on collaboration. Each morning from 7:30 to 8:15, teachers either collaborate, hold office hours, or supervise students. This schedule change became a “game changer” for our teachers. At WMS, we call this our Focus Period. To help monitor and grow in the Tier 2 process, each school in the system was allotted a Learning Support Specialist (LSS) in the fall of 2020. The LSS provides clarity to the questions, “What do we do when our students haven’t learned it?” and, “What do we do when the students already know it?” (Mattos et al., 2016) In 2022, we implemented Flextime Manager, which allows every teacher a focus period for dedicated Tier 2 time and gives all teachers extension time for students who are proficient.
With the Guiding Coalition (GC), the LSS guides the work on the WMS RTI Pyramid of Interventions to ensure that intervention, remediation, and extension are addressed effectively. Using Taking Action (Buffum, Mattos, and Malone, 2018) as a guide, the GC developed a School Intervention Team to employ the expertise of various school leaders to address students who continue to struggle and need Tier 3 remediation.
In February 2021, WMS GC participated in the professional development “Leading Change in Grading Practices” (Erkens, 2021). This Solution Tree workshop initiated a change in the system grading policy that encouraged staff to align grading practices to reflect what students learned versus how they behaved (compliance). Continuing the study of assessment, members of the GC participated in the Solution Tree “Achieve Institute” in July of 2021. System and school representatives continued studying and implementing action research regarding assessment in the 2022-2023 year. WMS sent five teachers and our principal to the Solution Tree Conference “Standards Based Grading” in San Diego, California. Teachers studied standards-based grading and devised a plan to help teachers at WMS get closer to a standards-based gradebook. The team presented their proposal to the faculty, and this grading plan will be put in place for the 2023-2024 school year.
We love to celebrate the “right work.” GC members monitor the PLC process within collaborative team meetings, encouraging highly effective teams to apply for System A-Team Recognition using the A-Team Application. In 2022 WMS earned an A-team distinction award for the 7th grade ELA collaborative team. During the same school year, our A-team received the highest 7th grade ELA and reading scores in the county. The eighth grade ELA team was awarded A-team distinction in May of 2023. Collaboration and a focus on data leads to amazing results. Preliminary data shows that 8th grade ELA scores increased by nearly 12 percentage points! Woodland Middle School has led the district in 5 of the 10 state assessments in the 2022-2023 school year and was second in another area by less than 2 tenths of a percentage point. Our commitment to the PLC process is truly paying dividends, and we expect nothing but improvement in learning in the future.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
The first step of monitoring student learning on a timely basis was the task of deconstructing standards to increase collective understanding of each state standard. The purpose of deconstructing standards is to assist collaborative teams in the process of determining essential standards. Each collaborative team used the R.E.A.L. (Readiness, Endurance, Assessed, and Leverage) criteria to identify which standards are essential for student learning. The essential standards are the standards that each collaborative team guarantee that all students will learn.
Once the essential standards were identified for each content, we established learning targets for each unit. Teachers placed the learning targets on a Complexity Ladder which is designed to provide instructional and assessment guidance. The learning targets drove the creation of the CSA (Common Summative Assessment) for each unit of study. Using the backward design model, collaborative teams created the CSA, other common formative assessments (CFAs) and the instructional plan prior to giving Tier 1 instruction.
With the creation of the assessments, the teachers began the task of developing the plan for tier 1 instruction. Completion of the Unit Plan ensured the teachers allotted the time needed to effectively incorporate the TeachingAssessing Cycle (TAC). This cycle ensures that collaborative teams monitor and respond to students in a timely fashion. Collaborative teams provide instruction on the learning targets and assess the learning through a Common Formative Assessment (CFA). After students are assessed, the collaborative team will analyze the data, looking for common mistakes and frequently missed questions. Once the students’ needs have been identified, the collaborative team must decide how to deliver the information to students during the response days, which are built into the Instructional Calendar.
At the end of the unit, collaborative teams give a CSA. The teams analyze the data and students who did not show proficiency on an essential standard go to Tier 2 intervention. This is a 30-minute period built into the day called Focus Period. Through the implementation of the Teaching Assessing Cycle, teachers approach instruction in a manner that focuses on student learning. With the addition of Flextime Manager to schedule students for Tier 2, all students can receive Tier 2 intervention and extension for every academic class.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Through the RTI process, WMS teachers develop their understanding of the PLC process (questions 1 and 2) and shift their instruction from teaching to learning. Teacher leaders have attended RTI at Work conferences and redelivered to the faculty. As RTI implementation plans were developed at the system level, the WMS Guiding Coalition discussed the barriers and options of how to establish a schoolwide schedule where dedicated Tier 2 and Tier 3 time was scheduled during the school day.
The LSS helps collaborative teams plan interventions for students who did not met proficiency on essential standards, as well as extensions for students who demonstrated proficiency on an essential standard. Students are identified through data, and the teacher collaborative teams take ownership to ensure that all students learn and grow.
The school’s Guiding Coalition developed a Pyramid of Interventions – a visual reminder that classroom teachers are not expected to do it all; learning is everyone’s responsibility. The pyramid is a training tool to help teachers understand that Tier 2 is designed to provide interventions for specific learning targets, not a path to exceptional education services. The Pyramid of Interventions also provides clarity regarding resources that are available and who is responsible for implementing the various interventions. In addition, the pyramid incorporates behavior with academics to identify interventions for students who lack the “will” to succeed as opposed to those who lack the “skill.” The GC also created advisement groups, which work with students who lack the “will” to succeed. The pyramid and PBIS Matrix is evaluated and revised every year.
With the Tier 2 in place, teachers were better able to address questions 3 and 4. Students travel through the Teaching Assessing Cycle, teachers provide instruction, administer common formative assessments (CFA), and provide preventions based on those CFA results. If a student does not show proficiency on an essential standard on a CSA, he/she enters Tier 2 interventions for that essential standard. Tier 2 intervention occurs, and students are reassessed. Students who show proficiency move out of Tier 2 groups. Because the system of intervention is designed to address a specific learning target, instruction is altered, and teachers switch/arrange students based on data. When students do not show proficiency after Tier 2, they move to Tier 3 remediation.
Data shows that Tier 2 Focus Period has helped increase student learning. However, data has also shown that we need to continue work to strengthen Tier 1 instruction and assessment. Due to weak “prevention,” we continue to see more that 20% of students require Tier 2 instruction; this is simply too many. We also see some possibly negative effect from allowing students to retake CSAs too many times. The school assessment team’s procedure/protocol that will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year has been designed to help address this issue. We look forward to seeing effects from this action research. In addition, we are seeing minimal gains from our Tier 3 classes, certainly not those that Hattie’s research shows we should see. The WMS Guiding Coalition has acknowledged that we must make some changes in how we address Tier 3. This will be our focus of study next year.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Building collective teacher efficacy and teacher capacity to work as members of high-performing collaborative teams is a focus at Woodland Middle. Teachers meet collaboratively by subject area and grade level twice weekly. They also meet vertically by subject monthly. All collaborative teams use the school system’s A-Team Application to ensure they are functioning at a high level. At least one collaborative team presents at every GC meeting, and the GC uses the A-Team Award to guide and provide feedback to collaborative teams. Our goal is that every collaborative team will be an A Team.
Being results-oriented is an important part of being a high functioning team. Collaborative teams review data from CFAs, CSAs, MAP assessments, Growth Measure assessments, and Milestones to make adjustments within the teaching-assessing cycle. Collaborative analysis of student data deepens the teams’ understanding of content and what the standard truly means for ALL students. Data from assessments helps teams determine which instructional strategies have been effective. Grade level teachers work with an interactive data wall, which provides a visual of the progress the students make throughout the year and a reminder to the teachers we are ALL responsible for the learning of ALL students.
It is important to remember that the PLC process is an ongoing learning experience, and WMS will maintain our effort to perfect the process as we continue building collective teacher efficacy. We know this is a marathon, and we still have a lot of work to do to reach all students. Our motto in the 2022-2023 school year has been, “All means all.” We have seen great gains, but until we reach 100% proficiency, this race is not over.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
We have provided a sample of our Tier 2 data in the files attached. We keep similar data for all grades and all subjects to reflect student growth after Tier 2 intervention for each essential learning target.
2020-2021 School Year
- Bartow County STEM Certified School – 2019-2020
- 6th Grade ELA: Highest Academic Achievement on 2021 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- Highest Overall English Language Arts Achievement on 2021 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
2021-2022 School Year
- Bartow County School System recognized as a Model PLC School District
- 7th grade ELA Collaborative team recognized as an A-Team
- 7th Grade ELA: Highest Academic Achievement of 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- 7th Grade ELA: Highest percentage of students reading on or above grade level
2022-2023 School Year
- 6th Grade ELA: Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- 7th Grade ELA: Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- 8th grade ELA: Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- 8th grade ELA Collaborative team recognized as an A-Team
- 7th Grade Reading: Highest percentage of students reading on or above grade level
- 8th Grade Reading: Highest percentage of students reading on or above grade level
- 6th Grade Math: Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- 7th Grade Math: Second Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS (by 2 tenths of a percentage point)
- 8th Grade High School Physical Science: Highest Academic Achievement of the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- Highest Overall English Language Arts Achievement on the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS
- Highest Overall Percentage of student reading at or above grade level on the 2022 End of Grade Assessment in BCSS