Nixa Public Schools

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

Beginning in 2019, with the introduction of our new superintendent, Dr. Gearl Loden, our district was tasked with true implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC).  Our district’s PLC journey began in the early 2000’s with our high school and jr. high visiting Adlei Stevenson.  They brought back collaborative teaming, focused late start times, and commitment to the process.  As the years went by, the elementary team worked to integrate teaming, collaboration days, and similar processes, but never received proper training in PLC processes.  With the new superintendent’s charge, it was important that the entire district hit reboot on its PLC journey.

Our reboot started with leadership teams coming together to discuss common formative assessments, teaming, and essential standards.  While this is not your typical starting point, it worked for us.  We have recognized over the past four years that we should have started by sharing the research and starting to shift our culture, but thankfully Solution Tree associates such as Chris Jakicic, Kim Bailey, Cassandra Erkens, Michael Maffoni, and Dennis King came to our district to help us fill in all of our learning gaps. (See NPS PLC Showcase Slides 3-4) 

As we focused on during the day collaboration times, we also gave our attention to the work of the strategy implementation guide.  This process allowed our leadership teams and staff to determine where they were at in the PLC journey and where they were going.  All of our teams now use the Strategy Implementation Guide (SIG), developed with the help of Solution Tree author Michael Maffoni, to guide their work.  Our collaboration team times would not be as successful without PLC leaders.  At first, our department heads and instructional coaches modeled the proper support and guidance for team collaborations.  We started appointing grade/subject/content PLC leaders and gave them training as well (Training 1, Training 2).  In year three, we started training our PLC leaders on a quarterly basis, spearheaded by our administrators.  Through this training we realized the importance of loose and tights for our teams and buildings.  We worked through the SIG to give us support in the development of those loose and tights.  Each building is on their own journey, but we are all on the same train toward PLC right. (See NPS PLC Showcase Slide 5)  

Throughout our journey, we knew that question #3 was incredibly important to our success but also a difficult idea and task to accomplish.  We first sent our curriculum specialists and administrators through the RTI at Work training with Brian Butler.  This supported the work of our Student Services Director in developing the vision and action steps the district and schools needed to implement RTI.  Over the past year, professional learning, in-depth training, and building work has led to Student Success Teams, intervention time in master schedules, and data work to identify and focus on student interventions. (See NPS PLC Showcase Slide 6-7) 

We have made so many strides as a district in our journey and we recognize that growth is a continuous process.  To continue this growth, we are always looking for opportunities to grow our teams such as sending teams and leaders to PLC Summits and Institutes, developing district wide PLT’s, and increasing vertical collaboration between all levels.   This is alright for us as we don’t look at this as something we will accomplish or complete, but a way that we do business and the vehicle for all that we do to support our district, our families, our staff, and our students. (See NPS PLC Showcase Slide 2)  

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Nixa Public Schools, the foundations of PLCs are implemented weekly as teachers meet during collaborative time to focus on curriculum pacing guides, common formative assessments (CFAs) and common summative assessments (CSAs).  Data from these assessments, as well as district benchmarks, assist teachers as they choose best instructructional practices, differentiate instruction to meet student’s needs, and work to ensure students are performing at or above grade level expectations.  Teachers use an RTI process to assure all students are mastering the required standards and learning at high levels. 

NPS has identified essential standards for each grade level and within the content areas.  At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the state of Missouri released state determined priority and supporting standards.  At the end of each school year, students in grades 3 and beyond take either the GLA or EOC exam.  These assessments test students’ progress toward mastery of Missouri Learning Standards (MLS) and are created primarily around the state priority standards. 

At NPS, we recognize the vast amount of standards this entails.  As a district, grade level teams have used the REAL criteria  to condense those standards into a list of essentials that we guarantee all students at the grade level will master before moving on to the next grade.  We continually revise and revisit our pacing guides, looking at when and how long time is spent on each essential standard, which helps us determine that our curriculum is truly viable with students being able to have ample time to learn, master, and extend their learning on essential standards.  

In order to ensure continuity across the district and because of the different locations and processes at our multiple elementary buildings, we created a district curriculum team made up of building and grade level representatives from each school to determine district level essential standards. To initiate this process, we utilized the steps in Make it Happen and had grade level teams in each building use a virtual accordion method to identify approximately one-third of the Missouri Learning Standards. Then, the district curriculum team identified commonalities in what each building submitted, both horizontally and vertically, to establish district-wide grade level essential standards.  After the first year of implementation, it was evident that one-third of Missouri Learning Standards was still too many standards to guarantee mastery, so the district curriculum team met again to revise the list of essential standards. This team will continue to meet yearly as needed. The process at the secondary level, which has one junior high and one high school, has been similar but more streamlined with course/grade level teams working to identify roughly 8-10 essential standards per course. Across the district, we have used this Essential Standards Timeline to plan the process, and we continue to update our essential standards and pacing guides as we acquire new resources and grow in our experiences and understanding. 

In addition to essential standard work, our district has provided multiple professional learning opportunities for administrators, instructional coaches, PLT leaders, and teacher teams on unwrapping standards and developing learning targets.  We have had Chris Jakicic lead our elementary and secondary teacher teams through this process with content specific standards (see example training agendas and handouts: PD Agenda 3/8, PD Agenda 4/4, Teacher Handout). Our instructional coaches have been provided with additional training to help as our teacher teams work on unit development within their buildings (Instructional Coach handout).  PLT leaders and teams have been guided through the process by our district curriculum specialists as well (secondary example, 3rd grade example, 2nd grade example). This is a continual process that we seek to regularly monitor and adjust based on data and needs. Our elementary teachers meet with our district curriculum teams regularly to look at teacher feedback, district data, and state requirements to determine any changes that need to be made in our district essential standards, units of instruction, assessments, and pacing (ELA advisory teamMath advisory team)   Our curriculum specialists, administrators, and instructional coaches meet with teacher teams multiple times per month as they collaboratively reassess the viability of curricula.  A process has been developed to ensure all teacher teams can reflect on their collaborative work and share suggested revisions that advisory teams will use as feedback during their meetings (Learning Team Quarterly Reflection, Curriculum Feedback Form).  

In terms of curriculum and pacing, collaborative subject and grade level teams develop and frequently revise curriculum using the “backwards design” model.  Teachers work in departmental and/or grade level collaborative teams to address the ever-changing needs of students.  Teachers have created pacing guides, CFAs, and CSAs which evaluate students’ knowledge and allow instructors to make instructional adjustments as needed (Elementary Pacing Guide and CFA; Secondary Pacing Guide and CFA).  NPS works to fulfill a vision of being “one Nixa.” Within this vision, it is the desire that no matter which building, teacher, or subject, all students in a grade level or course will receive access to the same grade or course level standards, educational learning materials, and assessments.  This allows our teams and buildings to have successful collaboration, successful analyzation of data, and successful interventions.  

Within weekly team meetings, teachers use backwards design to create lessons, units, CFAs, and CSAs.  When adding, changing, or fine tuning curriculum, teams use data (Example 1, Example 2) to make relevant changes to impact instruction.  Team members engage in reflective conversations about individual teaching strategies while highlighting which strategies garnered the best results.  Individual teachers make adjustments and re-teach when applicable, improving students’ comprehension and retention of learning standards.  

In addition to weekly collaborative times, grade level and department teams utilize shared plan times and scheduled planning days throughout the school year to work with instructional coaches and specialists to further check alignment of standards to curriculum, both vertically and horizontally.  These work sessions allow teams and departments to also focus on pacing and make adjustments to the scope and sequence, ensuring that all essential standards are introduced and taught at a rigorous level across the school year. (Examples of Elementary,  8th Math, and Biology Essential Standards)

NPS’s PLC model requires all students to learn at high levels at all times. This core belief enabled the successful transition to virtual learning during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. In the Spring of 2020, NPS’s faculty’s dedication, desire, and drive to continue learning and finish fourth quarter facilitated the transition to students’ virtual learning. Faculty relied upon clearly defined priority standards, aligned assessments, and utilization of appropriate virtual learning platforms to guarantee little or no learning loss occurred during the pandemic. 

As a PLC, we are always working to answer the four key questions that drive instructional practices: 

  1. What do we want all students to know and be able to do? 

  2. How will we know if students learn it? 

  3. How will we respond if some students do not learn? 

  4. How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient? 

Questions two, three, and four guide our teams in our efforts to monitor student learning regularly.  Teacher teams rely upon well constructed CFAs and CSAs.  Teachers review and use data from CFAs to guide classroom instructional practices.  Knowing what students already know and can do, teachers can pinpoint exact information to improve students’ academic success.  

Teacher teams meet weekly during collaborative time to monitor student learning.  As an ongoing process, building level teams use CFAs and CSAs based on essential standards to gather and analyze student data in regards to learning.  Monthly, students in grades 2-10 take a benchmark assessment to measure students’ growth on learning standards in ELA and Math.  Teacher teams, along with their instructional coaches, specialists, and principals analyze this data and use it to adjust their instruction.  Additionally, all K-6 teachers give screeners and/or benchmarks three times a year to help identify at risk students.  Information from these screeners and benchmarks is also analyzed and used to make decisions instructionally.  Additionally, special education teachers, building level interventionists, counselors, and instructional specialists regularly collaborate with teams to monitor the progress of individuals and groups of students.  

Many teams have developed student tracking and goal setting documents to help students take a personal investment in their learning. Teachers share clear learning goals with students and help students learn how to set individual goals and adjust academic behaviors in order to reach those goals. Teachers and students working together to monitor progress allows for maximum student engagement and growth.

 

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

NPS uses Response to Intervention (RTI) to answer key questions three and four: how will we respond when students have not learned it and how will we respond when students have already learned it. RTI is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.  We have developed district tights around RTI that align with the RTI pyramid

District and building leadership teams, including administrators and specialists, attended the RTI at Work Coaching Academy to dig deeper into answering these questions. Building Guiding Coalition teams work together to designate time allotted for interventions and extensions during the school day so additional time and support are accessible for all (example of Guiding Coalition team work).

Tiered interventions happen in the classroom between teacher and student. Teachers intervene on academic issues such as non-mastery of essential standards and lacking academic behaviors (example of grade level intervention and extension plan for both academic and behavior goals).  Teachers work in their collaborative teams to help design and carry out interventions for students in need of support.  

NPS’s tier two interventions include time set aside daily to use for interventions and extensions.  This time allows teachers direct access to students for tutoring, re-teaching, remediation, and extensions as needed  In addition, before and after tutoring sessions are offered, increasing the students’ ability to receive targeted intervention from the experts in the content.  Example master schedules show highlighted tier two allotted RTI time. Elementary ScheduleIntermediate ScheduleJH Bell Schedule, HS Bell Schedule

NPS has a variety of tier three interventions, based on the needs of the specific student.  At the secondary level, the district has specific classes in math and English available that students can take in addition to their regular math and English classes, in order to help address fundamental skills the students may be lacking.  In addition, the district has recently added the position of Director of Student Services in order to help coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders when meeting the needs of students who need tier three support.  When addressing non-academic needs for students, NPS partners with community members to provide:  The Backpack Program which allows students to discreetly obtain from the counselors’ offices non-perishable food items for weekends and school breaks; Care to Learn which provides students with vouchers for health services, clothing, food, and hygiene items; The Back to School Bash which is hosted each August during which community businesses provide necessary school supplies, backpacks, clothing, shoes, food, and information to access community resources. Finally, the district also has assembled a Community Action Team (CAT).  This team’s members consist of school administrators, school counselors, school police officers, social workers, emergency responders, community leaders, church leaders, local agencies, and juvenile officers.  This team meets regularly to help determine interventions to meet the individual needs of students who need specialized tier three supports.

 

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

NPS recognizes the need for on-going teacher support in order to help build teacher capacity as we work to help ensure all students learn at high levels.  As Mike Mattos has stated in many trainings, no one teacher has the time, energy and resources to help EVERY student succeed at high levels.  Teachers are more equipped to address student needs when they work as members of high-performing collaborative teams.

NPS teacher teams meet weekly for collaboration.  The district, with community support, has committed specific time for this work by using a late start schedule for students each Monday which allows teacher teams time needed to work together.  In addition, many teacher teams have common plan time, allowing them to meet multiple times during the week as they use the backward design process to create a guaranteed and viable curriculum for their grade/content.  

Over the past several years, administrators, teachers, and coaches have attended multiple PLC trainings, in effort to learn and grow in our professional capacities.  NPS has invested a great deal of resources to bring associates from Solution Tree to our district to help us move forward in our PLC journey.  From determining essential standards, to creating CFAs, to monitoring student learning in the teaching and learning cycle, NPS faculty has learned strategies from some of the best experts in the field.  As NPS tries to improve RTI practices, administrators, specialists, and coaches recently participated in the RTI Coaching Academy.  During this academy, administrators from across the district were able to collaborate with each other as they made plans for strengthening RTI in each of their buildings.

NPS values building the capacity of their teachers as leaders.  Multiple opportunities are provided to teachers within the district to assist teachers in growing professionally.  Four of the most effective professional learning opportunities include Nixa U, teaching studies, PLC Leadership training, and Comprehensive School Improvement Planning (CSIP).    

  • Nixa U:  Yearly courses are offered through Nixa U, a joint graduate program with a local university.  Within these courses, teachers learn the basics of educational leadership including developing and writing curriculum, assessments, working with teacher teams, and focused work on PLC practices.  

  • Teaching Studies: Multiple times throughout the year buildings take advantage of utilizing teaching studies–a practice that allows teacher teams to observe instruction and offer feedback to their colleagues, while also working to increase their own instructional techniques.  

  • PLC Leadership Training: During the 2021-2022 school year NPS provided PLC Leadership training for each team’s PLC leaders as well as building level administrators and coaches.  In the summer of 2021, teams were given a one day training on Effective PLC Leadership Practices.  Twice during the school year (fall and spring), teams were given additional training focusing on relevant issues and leadership principles including building trust, handling conflict, accountability, and building a culture.  Team leaders had time to collaborate and brainstorm ideas together for working effectively as leaders of teacher teams. (See NPS PLC Showcase Slide 8)

  • Comprehensive School Improvement Planning:  Our district level CSIP plan supports an every 4 to 5 year complete revision.  Each year, all strategies are updated to show progress towards achievement. (21-22 CSIP Action Plan Status)   All shared beliefs, vision, and mission are reviewed annually when reviewing progress.  Our CSIP strategies support district and building growth and are highlighted in staff professional learning.  All building improvement plans tie into the district CSIP and our district and building professional learning plans tie into the district CSIP.  Teachers are also encouraged to be involved in the planning process of the district CSIP.  This time intensive process allows for teachers to be intimately involved in district planning through a leadership lens.  (20-25 CSIP)    

Finally, in order to help our teams assess current reality and set realistic goals for the future, NPS has developed a Strategic Implementation Guide (SIG) for the district.  This work began with Michael Maffoni assisting administrators, specialists, coaches, and teacher representatives from each building to create common criteria based on critical components of PLC practices. Using this document, teams can determine not only where they are on their journey, but also identify next steps to help move forward.  This has been extremely beneficial to teacher teams, coaches, and administrators in providing clear expectations regarding highly effective collaborative teams as we work to support all students.  The district consistently reviews and revises the SIG (every 180 days). 

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Nixa Public Schools understands the value of making informed decisions based on collections of student data. Teacher teams across the district utilize all levels of data including state, district, and classroom level data.   Realizing the need for a systematic approach of utilizing data, the district added a full time position of Data Specialist during the 2021-2022 school year.  We have continued our learning on the literacy of assessments by attending Solution Tree’s Assessment Coaching Academy with our curriculum director, curriculum specialists, and building administration.    

Building and grade level teams regularly study data and look for trends and growth.  Teams utilize district created data collection forms as well as team created forms as a way to organize their data.  Color coding on data collection spreadsheets helps teams quickly notice patterns in the results, making it easier to determine what strategies are working as well as opportunities for growth.  

Grades K-2 do not participate in state assessments in Missouri.  Teacher teams at these levels utilize district benchmark assessments to measure growth (District Assessment Schedule) and identify areas for improvement.  The district additionally uses a web based benchmark system, Evaluate, (Elementary and Secondary Math) given either quarterly (K-1) or monthly (2-6).  This standards-aligned assessment helps guide teachers to target instruction, and allows administrators to identify instructional areas of need as well as resources and support.  Our Data Specialist and Instructional Coaches organize data from this assessment in a way that allows teacher teams to easily use the results during collaborative time.  In examining the Free Reduced Lunch subgroup within this grade level span, we continue to see the percentage of students performing at proficient and advanced matches closely to our overall district percentages.  This is a strong indicator of the effectiveness of our instructional practices.  Evidence of this can be seen in our linked district assessment data.    

Students of Nixa Public Schools have consistently demonstrated high levels of learning with state assessment scores at or above state average for over a decade (District Assessment Data).  NPS’s grade level and end of course assessment scores are frequently the highest among local districts and our secondary scores have ranked in the top 1-8% in the state for the past few years. As an indicator of our dedication to student learning, teacher teams worked diligently during COVID to help prevent the learning loss that was experienced in most school districts across the nation.  Upon returning to in-person learning after COVID, state assessment scores increased, demonstrating no loss of learning during that unprecedented time. 

Although our district data shows little to no growth in the graduation rates for students with IEPs, we are implementing practices that will help to address this issue. With increased focus on essential standards district-wide, our resource classes have been able to recalibrate their lessons to ensure access to essential learning for all students while de-emphasizing some of the nonessential content. In addition, more junior high and high school students with IEPs are placed in rigorous co-taught classrooms where they benefit from the knowledge and expertise of two professionals. We are also increasing professional development provided to these teachers to make the co-teaching model more effectively engaging for all learners. Finally, students with IEPs are now able to attend S.C.O.R.E., our alternative high school, where they experience individualized assistance and smaller class sizes. With these changes, we are starting to see improvement in our state assessment scores for students with IEPs. We hope this trend will also result in improved graduation rates as more students benefit from these changes to their educational experience.

 

2022

  • Nixa High School named National Blue Ribbon School

  • Nixa High School has been named one of eight schools to receive the 2022 Gold  Star School by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). 

  • Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association has named Marian House Middle School District A.D.’s of the Year. 

  • Dr. Josh Chastian named one of Springfield Business Journal’s 2022 Men of the Year

  • Dr. Allison Fleetwood named Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year

2021

  • Nixa High School named 2021 U.S. News Best High Schools 

  • Nixa High School AP Honor Roll (5th year in a row)

  • Nixa High School- College Success Award Gold Distinction 

  • Gold distinction for our multi year track record of preparing students to enroll and succeed in college. Nixa High School is among 1,770 high schools in 26 states to receive the Gold Award. 

  • Dr. Gearl Loden named one of Springfield Business Journal’s 2021 Men of the Year

  • Linda Daugherty 2021 Distinguished Board Member Certification from Missouri School Boards’ Association

  • NPS Board of Education 2021 MSBA Governance Team Award for the 15th Time 

  • Jared Webster 2021 MASSP Junior High Principal of the Year

  • David Kelly 2021 Missouri Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) Administrator of the Year

2020

  • NPS named 2020 Best Schools NICHE

  • Nixa High School AP Honor Roll

  • Chris Wilson named 2020 Missouri DARE Teacher of the Year

  • Inman Intermediate 2020 Missouri PBS “Rooting for Each Other Team Award”

  • Pedro Benitez named 2020 Regional Teacher of the Year

  • Inman Intermediate earns "Rooting For Each Other Team Award" from MO SW-PBS (Missouri School-Wide Positive Behavior Support)

  • Nixa High School 2020 Top 10 Annual AP Honor Roll- 4th year in a row

2019

  • NPS Board of Educational 2019 MSBA Governance Team Award

  • HERMES Award

  • NHS approved as Advanced Placement Diploma School

  • National Spelling Bee national qualifier and competitor

2017-2018

  • Dr. Kleinsmith named 2018 Superintendent of the Year  for the State of Missouri

  • Blake Richter named 2018 Regional Teacher of the Year

  • MSBA 2018 Outstanding Board of Education Award in Physical and Environmental Resources

  • MSBA 2018 Governance and Leadership Team Award

  • Linda Daugherty elected MSBA Region 10 Board of Director

  • Linda Daugherty - SBJ’s 20 Most Influential Women Award

  • RaeLynn Anderson - SBJ’s 20 Most Influential Women Award

  • 2017 NPS Named Model Schools Innovative District 

  • Tiffany Jones named 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year

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