Euharlee Elementary

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

Euharlee Elementary School opened its doors in January 2003. The school has witnessed many changes over the years such as demographics, enrollment numbers, personnel changes, and approaches used for the instruction of our students. When Euharlee first opened, average enrollment was approximately 800 students, with seven to eight teachers per grade level. With a re-zoning of the system eight years ago, enrollment numbers dropped drastically. Enrollment numbers have continued to decrease to just around 500 students in the 2021-2022 school year. 

As a Title I school, the school’s economically disadvantaged percentage has increased over the years. Teachers have embraced the understanding that students are coming in with different needs compared to previous years, so it is crucial to have flexibility with teaching strategies based on data to meet the academic and emotional needs of students. The importance of increasing learning for ALL students became evident. While the intentions were clear, how to accomplish this goal remained unclear. 

In the summer of 2018, district leaders were invited to attend the Culture Keepers PLC Conference in Atlanta, GA. School leaders began discussing the big ideas of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and shifting our culture from a focus on teaching, to a focus on learning. The district, under the guidance of Superintendent Page, developed a system guiding coalition to begin the process of “Learning by Doing.” Principal Sharon Collum brought back what she learned and began the process at Euharlee Elementary. A local school guiding coalition was created using the “willing and able” tool. This new guiding coalition worked to ensure that the “why” of the PLC process was clear and that Euharlee had a collective commitment to increase student achievement through teacher collaboration, focusing on learning, and using data to drive decisions.   

 In 2018-2019, the focus was on creating a mission and vision statement that identified our daily purpose, as well as our vision of where we are going. We also established collective commitments to reach these goals. Across the district, barriers were identified, and committees worked to find solutions to support local schools in doing the “right work.” Each school gained an Instructional Lead Teacher (ILT) to support teachers in job-embedded professional development during the implementation of the PLC process.   

 

The following year brought about some local changes for Euharlee Elementary. Dr. Collum began working at the district level and Jim Bishop became principal. The culture shift throughout the county was evident with Mr. Bishop’s seamless transition to Principal at Euharlee Elementary. He joined several guiding coalition members in Atlanta for the “PLC at Work” Institute to gain inspiring strategies and tools to continue the journey. 

 In 2019- 2020, the work continued with the development of collaboration time built into the school day district wide which provided collaborative teams 40 minutes of focused time to discuss the four guiding questions. These teams developed norms and roles to support the productivity of the meetings. Collaborative teams also began the process of identifying essential and supporting standards using the REAL criteria. SMART goals and unit plans were developed by collaborative teams to ensure the work was focused on student learning.    

 Over the next year, our journey continued through the difficulties of a pandemic.  A master schedule was developed providing designated time for Tier 1 instruction based on a guaranteed and viable curriculum, Tier 2 time for interventions/ extensions, and Tier 3 remediations based on data. Collaborative teams continued to strengthen teaching assessing cycles to emphasize prevention over remediation when working toward meeting proficiency on learning targets. Common formative assessments were developed to check for understanding throughout each unit. Collaborative teams used data to drive instructional practices on response days and to address any misconceptions of learning targets. Despite the commitment of the staff, the data was still showing that not all students were meeting proficiency on summative assessments.  This revelation led us to evaluate the rigor and purpose of the assessments we were using.     

 Members of our Guiding Coalition attended a presentation from Nichole Dimich on the Design in Five process. The process of using assessments to increase hope, as well as student achievement was redelivered to the staff.  Collaborative teams began reexamining current assessment practices with the support of the ILT. Despite going virtual in the spring of 2020, collaborative teams continued working on strengthening common formative and summative assessments. Teams created learning progressions for each unit to gain a collective understanding of the targets needed to be met in order to meet proficiency for that standard. Teachers began working on making these targets clear to students so they can better understand their path to proficiency.      

 In the fall of 2020, the district created a Learning Support Specialist (LSS) position at each school. This position was created to support teachers with implementation of Tier 2 instruction, targeted Tier 3 support, and the RTI process. With the addition of this position, our school was able to focus on implementation of the master schedule and strengthening the RTI pyramid of interventions. The LSS, ILT, Principal, and Assistant Principal joined collaborative teams to ensure that teams were equipped to carry out the work needed to support our mission and vision.   

 As we moved forward in our PLC journey, we continued to examine how we could improve student achievement. After examining county wide trends in data, the district added a Reading Specialist (RS) position at each elementary school. The RS at our school supports both teachers and students in the area of reading. The focus of the RS is to support reading interventions with our most struggling students, review data with teachers to form flexible reading intervention groups across all grade levels and provide continuing professional learning opportunities using research-based reading strategies. The RS also consults with the ILT, LSS, administrators and other key personnel on the Site Intervention Team and Guiding Coalition to ensure reading success for all students. 

 The Guiding Coalition worked to create a School Improvement Plan that targeted areas of need as determined by a root cause analysis and examination of data. Collaborative teams worked to increase rigor in instruction and assessments. After exploring work from Douglas Fisher, members of the Guiding Coalition began working with collaborative teams to examine instructional practices, where these practices fall on the learning quadrant, and how surface learning and deep learning work together. Our focus on being results-oriented has led our collaborative teams to continue examining grading practices.  Staff participated in a book study on Grading from the Inside Out (Tom Schimmer, 2016) to guide a reflection of our current grading practices.  The professional discussions surrounding this book provided an opportunity to look ahead at using grading more appropriately and communicating grading practices with community stakeholders. In addition, vertical teams were created to continue our focus on student learning. These teams are content focused and consist of teacher representatives from each grade level and/or specialized areas. These teams meet to examine best teaching practices across grade levels, ensure consistency in understanding the standards, and engage in professional discussion on improving student achievement.  

 As we move forward, we continue to work on improving the PLC process.  We have professional learning scheduled with Mandy Stalets (March 2022) to assist teachers in improving assessment and grading practices to maximize student success. Our collaborative teams are also working on improving their efficiency by using the district developed A-Team document. We recently had our Fifth Grade Collaborative team recognized and awarded with the most prestigious award given by the district, the A- Team Award! The staff at Euharlee is committed to continuous improvement as we gain more knowledge about the PLC process.  With the constant support from the district and our Solution Tree partners, Euharlee is dedicated to working collaboratively to promote success for all students.  

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Euharlee Elementary School, our grade level teams focus on the four guiding questions to implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Question one asks, “What do we want students to know and be able to do?” For our collaborative teams to have a common understanding of student learning, we first had to identify essential standards for each grade level in reading and math. Using the R.E.A.L. process and supporting template developed by the Bartow County School System, our Guiding Coalition members were trained on examining each grade level standard to determine if the standard had readiness for the next grade level, endurance to last over time, an alignment to state assessments, and leverage of cross-cutting concepts in other domains or subject areas. The Guiding Coalition members led grade-level collaborative teams through the R.E.A.L. process. Each grade level was able to determine which standards had priority and would be essential for students to know.

Our Instructional Lead Teacher trained the entire staff on deconstructing standards to identify the skills, concepts, and vocabulary required to learn in a standard as well as the best way to assess these skills. Once teachers had a thorough understanding of the identified essential standards, the Instructional Lead Teacher guided teachers through the Design in 5 process. Teachers were then able to create learning targets using the Ladder of Complexity to ensure all students were meeting the expectation of the standard as well as receiving extension to obtain a deeper understanding. Once the collaborative teams have established learning targets for an essential standard, they create an essential unit plan with pacing of each common formative assessment (CFA) and for the common summative assessment (CSA). The common summative assessment is used to measure each student’s proficiency on the standard as established by the collaborative team.

Question two asks, “How will we know if they learn it?” Our collaborative teams work through the teaching and assessing cycle to monitor student learning on a timely basis. Each teacher has the autonomy to use instructional resources and pedagogical techniques to instruct students on the learning targets. The collaborative team creates common formative assessments used to monitor student understanding of the learning targets. For each CFA, teachers collectively examine the results and respond to student learning. A common formative assessment protocol sheet guides the teacher discussion so that optimal prevention strategies can be given to students before instruction begins on the next learning target. Teachers compare results and group students based on proficiency level and take a collective responsibility to ensure students receive the best instruction. At the end of the essential unit, the collaborative team administers the CSA to all students. Students are placed in a designated tier 2 group for reteaching or extension during a protected time of day. The team determines when students are ready to be retested to show proficiency on the essential standard.

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

In order to support a system of interventions and extensions, it was necessary to build extra time into the schedule specifically for that purpose. An additional 30-minute block of time for supplemental interventions, or tier 2 interventions, was included in the master schedule. Tier 2 students needing supplemental interventions were identified based on proficiency expectations on the common summative assessments for each essential standard. Tier 2 interventions for each grade level are a common block of time so that teachers can group students based on their needs. Students who met proficiency on the summative assessment extend learning through challenging and student-driven activities based on the standard. Groupings are flexible, based on current needs, and allow students to have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of a standard after the initial assessment. Teachers work with the Instructional Lead Teacher (ILT) and Learning Support Specialist (LSS) to appropriately identify students that need additional intervention time and to plan activities and extensions.

Another level of intervention is tier 3, or research-based remediation. A Site Intervention Team (SIT) is a committee comprised of reading, writing, math, and behavioral specialists. The SIT committee has developed specific criteria to determine and identify tier 3 students based on universal screeners. The screeners used at Euharlee are the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) and Acadience test. The SIT committee meets twice a month to oversee and monitor the progress of tier 3 students. Teachers can refer students to the SIT committee for consideration of tier 3 services using criteria established by the SIT committee. Each grade level has a specified 30 to 45-minute block during which tier 3 interventions will occur. The intervention block is arranged in conjunction with support personnel, such as the reading interventionist and inclusion teachers, to accommodate the maximum number of student needs. Tier 3 interventions are research-based instruction, such as Recipe for Reading and LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention). These programs are designed to support deficits in phonics, vocabulary, and fluency. Students are progress monitored every 2 weeks with Acadience and the SIT committee determines if the current intervention should continue or if change is needed.

Since additional time is included in the master schedule for both tier 2 and tier 3 interventions, each level of support is value added to the students’ grade level curriculum. Students may receive grade level instruction as well as additional interventions based on specific needs. Students that do not meet proficiency because of a behavioral or social concern are considered “will” students. Teachers work with the LSS and the Guiding Coalition to use resources such as metacognitive strategies and monitoring tools to support and motivate will students.

Data supports that building time for tier 2 and tier 3 interventions is effective. Students at all grade levels have mastered proficiency on standards with additional time and exited supplemental interventions such as, exemplar tasks and project based learning. Tier 3 students that show adequate progress can exit remediation as well. Systematic interventions and extensions are engrained in our culture at Euharlee Elementary, and teachers and students are active participants in the success of these programs.

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

Each Guiding Coalition (GC) member has received extensive training on facilitating the implementation of effective collaborative practices. This training focuses on leading data-based discussions that are results-oriented in both improving student learning and refining instructional practices. Armed with this expertise, GC members serve as the facilitators of their grade level collaborative teams.

When developing unit plans, data-based discussions are set on the calendar to officially occur after common formative assessments (CFA) and common summative assessments (CSA) are administered. Teachers use a CFA Protocol Form after common formative assessments are administered to organize data and plan next steps for students who need to be retaught, need extra time, or need an extension on response days. High performing teams have their data entered before the meeting so that valuable collaborative team time can be devoted to analyzing results. This item-by-item analysis is used to determine if incorrect responses were simple mistakes or errors caused by a misunderstanding of the skills or concepts. If a high percentage of students miss a problem, the team analyzes it to determine if it is an accurate assessment of the learning target. Activities are planned for each group of students and teaching assignments are given based on which teacher had the best results. This process is replicated after the summative assessment is given using a CSA Protocol Form. Once again, all student scores are listed on a shared spreadsheet with their initial CSA score. Strategies are discussed and Tier 2 interventions are planned. After the Tier 2 instructional cycle, students can retest for full credit. The retest score is recorded on the spreadsheet to track the effectiveness of Tier 2 interventions and used by the leadership team to celebrate success.

High impact students (those appearing in mulitple subgroups) have been identified by the teachers at each grade level. However, they do not allow a student's subgroup status to serve as an excuse for lack of success. For example, our 5th grade team, which recently earned “A-Team” recognition, has exceptional education students who are experiencing success at levels like other students on the team. On their most recent reading unit, there were ten students with disabilities who did not meet proficiency. At the conclusion of the Tier 2 cycle, a retest was given, and the number decreased to three. While their success rate of the students with disabilities fell short of the overall proficiency rate of 92%, the achievement gap is much smaller than in years past and we are confident it will translate to closed gaps on the end of year state assessment.

To assist collaborative teams in performing at high levels, the leadership team meets regularly with members of the Guiding Coalition to discuss processes outlined in the system PLC Playbook. Grade level facilitators share team successes and are also able to share struggles to seek input from other GC members. Leadership team members also embed in collaborative teams for 3 to 6-week cycles. Feedback is provided as needed and each team receives a feedback form at the conclusion of the cycle. The forms are filed by the principal for future reference when determining if a collaborative team needs more direct support.

Because of our focused efforts on improving student learning for all students, Euharlee Elementary is a school on an upwards trajectory and closing in on our vision of having all students ready for the next level of learning.

Highest Performing 3rd Grade Math In District

Highest Performing 3rd Grade ELA In District

2019-2020 Title I Reward School

2020-2021 Title I Reward School

"A-Team" Status - 5th Grade

2017 5-Star School Climate Rating

2018 5-Star School Climate Rating

2019 5-Star School Climate Rating

Top