Bethke Elementary (2023)

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

I opened Bethke 15 years ago as the principal of 270 students and 28 staff members. Everyone hired held the same values as I in wanting to create an environment that focused on the pillars of PLC's.  We built our school from the ground up with shared vision, values,  goals and mission to Honor All Learners.  Collaborative teams focused on collective inquiry driven by results from data was an expectation. Teams met monthly with me and daily with each other to plan for instruction based on formative data.  I encouraged risk taking and getting into each other's classrooms for peer observations and we were committed to continuously improving year after year.  Our focus in data dialogues with me were the four questions:  What should students know and be able to do?  How will we know they can do it?  What will we do if they cannot? How will we respond if they can? This drove our work for planning in every grade until we built systems to support all levels of learners.  After 15 years, we have systematic and consistent tier one instruction across all four classes in a grade and aligned between grades.  We are clear on what students should know and be able to do as evidenced by our scope and sequences we have created for morphology, spelling, vocabulary and phonics which we revise each year. We implement  supports both academically and behaviorally using the Purposeful People curriculum schoolwide.  Every classroom holds morning meetings to kick off the day and ground ourselves in our goals for the day. Our multisensory, research based inteventions are second to none.  We partner with parents regularly for success of all.  And our 558 students thrive. A positive, collaborative, supportive climate and culture is a the core of who we are and the foundation of our results. Every year we analyze our climate and culture with surveys and open dialogue seeking to improve for our students.  From year one, we have written Collective Commitments that reflect how we will work together as adults.  We revisit them throughout the year and at the beginning of each school year, we rewrite them to reflect where we are as a staff.  Since Covid, many commitments reflect self care and caring for each other.  I’m proud of how our staff openly talks about how we work together. This last year our staff chose to summarize our Collective Commitments into four brief phrases that are hung around our work areas to remind us each day of how we all agree to work together. That is a value our school has held to.  We value collaboration and we value each other.  Our mission of Honoring All Learners and values of Respect, Responsibility, Kindness, and Integriy from day one drive everything we do. Every person in our school would tell you that. Bethke is everything I dreamed it would be and more because of our intentional work of becoming and remaining a professional learning community.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Culture is where success begins.  We have made a commitment to restorative practices at Bethke grounded in community circles, known at Bethke as morning meetings.  They are built into our master schedule daily and provide the first opportunity for teachers to monitor students mentally, emotionally, and socially before the academic day begins.

Core Knowledge provides a guaranteed and viable curriculum in addition to our research based, teacher created, systematic and specific scope and sequences for phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling and morphology. We are aligned K-5 in our expectations for ease of transitions. All classroom teachers and interventionists, including special ed, use the same content vocabulary as agreed upon in our Reading Non Negotiables document and all follow the Essential Standards as laid out by the state of Colorado. In fact teachers have them attached to their lesson planning guidebooks!

In grades K-5 we progress monitor reading using Dibels for our well below benchmark students every week, our below benchmark students every two weeks, and we benchmark all K-3 three times a year for reading.  In grades 1-5 we progress monitor using STAR from Ren Place for reading every six weeks. In grades 2-5 we MAP test three times a year for reading. All of these tests have instructional planning reports we use to drive instruction and target interventions.  We have weekly phonics checkins to monitor growth on morphology and phonics pattern mastery as well as weekly one minute timed readings to monitor fluency.  In 3rd-5th grade students write constructed responses daily in a reading reflection log.  Teachers conference with each child and review their reading logs at least once each week to monitor comprehension. Specific, actionable feedback is given to the student to improve their written responses to reflect their comprehension. Through the weekly conferences, teachers build strong relationships with students as they discuss reading, writing, and progress on goals they set throughout the year. In 23-24, our school will have a new curriculum of CKLA comprehension passages to monitor comprehension weekly.

For math in grades 1-5 we progress monitor using STAR from Ren Place for math every six weeks.  In grades 2-5 we MAP test three times a year.  For students below benchmark, we progress monitor in grades 1-5 using Acadience Math biweekly. In the 22-23 school year, we started having students reflect on their unit test performance and set goals for the upcoming unit every couple weeks or so. That resulted in students taking more ownership over their learning and increasing their engagement in learning tasks. Our data reflected that.


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

Our MTSS process begins with grade level teams meeting biweekly to review student achievement data, growth data, and behavioral data.  Students are then placed in targeted intervention groups or asssigned a high dosage tutor for a short term, intensive intervention. Our two counselors hold numerous small groups targeted on social skills and emotional regulation.

We double dip reading intervention in all grades by having students participate in tier one instruction followed by attending a targeted reading intervention during independent work time, DEAR time, or small reading strategy group time. This is a time to reinforce the tier one phonics pattern while reviewing previously taught skills and high frequency words. Groups range from 1:1 to 1:6. It is mandatory that all students participate in tier one instruction prior to attending intervention time. The alignment between the interventionist and the classroom instruction is strong and consistent for ease of transitioning between rooms.

We double dip math intervention the second half of the math period so all students attend tier one instruction participating in the daily lesson. At independent practice time, students needing intervention go to the math interventionist for targeted intervention in skills identified using Acadience.  Once students master skills they cycle back into the classroom. Most students stay in intervention 12-18 weeks until they exit their intervention group. Groups range from 1:1 to 1:6.

Our schoolwide MTSS team meets monthly, sometimes twice a month if needed, to review progress of students in intervention. That team is made up of classroom teachers, specials teachers, mental health professionals as well as interventionists.  Specials teachers provide a unique insight into our students. MTSS identified students have already been monitored by their grade level team using data analysis documents attached.  Students are reviewed every 12-18 weeks for the purpose of increasing frequency, intensity or adjusting the intervention.  Our MTSS team works closely with our special education department to refer students that are suspected to have disabilities. In the 22-23 school year, 6 of 16 students discussed at the schoolwide MTSS team were referred and all 6 did indeed qualify for special education with a specific learning disability. Attached are data monitoring sheets our school uses and the profiles filled out for MTSS.  HB and LP are success stories of students who went through our  process, qualified for special education, received the supports they needed, and exited out at the end of 5th grade, proficient on CMAS!

Starting in Fall of 2022 we received federal funds for High Dosage Tutoring.  Attached is an example of the impact that had on one group for handwriting. These 3rd and 4th graders missed critical, foundational instruction and practice during COVID.  They were very proud to be able to participate with classmates in written assignments second semester.

Students who need enrichments and extensions beyond the expected learning targets work collaboratively in groups in the classroom with paraprofessionals, parents, and a GT teacher while students in intervention leave the classroom.  

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

Grade level teams meet weekly to plan for instruction using our schoolwide  scope and sequence for language arts and the essential standards for math. They also meet weekly with their interventionists to review formative data/student work, discuss progress, align expectations with interventionists, and adjust groups based on progress. One week they meet with the special ed teachers and the following week they meet with the literacy and/or math interventionist on a consistent day/time each week.  That rotation extends throughout the year.  Students at all levels of achievement are discussed for the purposes of targeting instruction, aligning across all classes in a grade, and increasing growth for all. 

Specials teachers meet regularly to align the work they do with each other as well as meet with mental health and special education teachers to stay consistent in their approaches to honoring all learners.

Our reading and math interventionists coach teachers 1:1 as needed as well as coteach for those that request support.  They lead targeted professional development based on the questions they hear in the weekly collaborations they hold.  Examples include our "Five Components of Literacy" class held monthly in 19-20 that is now known as Science of Reading, and our Developmental Progressions math class held quarterly in 21-22.  There is a high level of trust with these teacher leaders which results in staff asking them for help in deepening their understanding without having to ask an evaluator. These teacher leaders are experts in their field and highly respected by all as evidenced by our end of year surveys.  The principal meets with these teacher leaders once a month to review topics discussed and upcoming needs.  Our counselors held a monthly class on TBRI in 22-23 which came as a need requested by teachers on our end of year surveys in spring of 2022.

Every certified staff member is a leader on our staff.  There is no "leadership team" which can create a hierarchy of status in a culture.  Everyone leads and takes responsibility in some area.  We have four committees of work that meet each month in addition to whole staff meetings.  Each certified staff member and many classified serve on one of the committees:  MTSS, PBIS, Curriculum/Technology, or Wellness.  With having grade level teams of four, each person represents their grade level's needs on a committee and brings back communication to their team. This results in tighter collaboration and regular communication among staff and well as distributed decision making.  The principal meets with the leaders of each committee each month to review topics discussed and upcoming needs. At staff meetings, we are intentional about working together in vertical groups to maintain our alignment and expectations.

Our school houses the life skills program.  With a belief and value in full inclusion, our staff is trained in modifying and accommodating for our special education students to include them in daily activities and learning tasks.  Classroom teachers collaborate with the special education teacher weekly to maintain consistency and alignment in our work with these students so they continue to make growth on their IEP goals and objectives.  Our life skills students are an important part of our community and some of the most popular kids at school!

Our mental health team, consisting of our school psychologist, our mental health specialist, two counselors, AP and principal, meet biweekly to review the needs of students and to stay aligned in our approaches.  This regular, open communication maintains our consistency systemwide as we serve our students. We all know and value when students are regulated they are more available to learn and be productive in the classroom. With our second counselor in 22-23 and our expanded SEL targeted intevention groups we saw a higher level of engagement in the classroom and a reduction in office referrals. We will continue this emotional regulation support in 23-24.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

NWEA MAP Growth Percentiles 22-23

Students who met or exceeded their projected growth target:

2nd Reading: 86%

3rd Reading: 91%

4th Reading: 80%

5th Reading: 78%

2nd Math: 92%

3rd Math: 85%

4th Math: 78%

5th Math: 83%

22-23 Data Highlight: 48% of all students in grades 3-5 on a READ Plan tested out and exited!

  1. We included a document from 11-12 to illustrate this is who we have always been.  It’s not just who we are today. We’ve revised systems and documents throughout the years.
  2. We shared the stories of HB and LP through a series of documents.  Every teacher at graduation cried when those two walked across the stage and exited from their IEP’s.  They are a couple of our biggest success stories and models of how our inquiry process works.
  3. Also included are documents to show that in second grade, we made terrific growth in reading. We just had an unusually large group below grade level, some of who qualified for special education by the end of the year from MTSS.  We had been tracking them since kindergarten coming out of Covid.  They all moved within the red or yellow category and made growth. Some even moved from red to yellow. It is very hard to move categories, but we did see incremental growth from all. It was also a bit smaller of a grade level, so the denominator was smaller when calculating percentages.
  4. Fourth grade had tremendous growth from the third-grade cohort the year before. CMAS scores were 14 points higher in reading for that group from 2022 to 2023. 7 of 12 students came off READ plans. We had a lot to celebrate in 4th grade.  The math overall seems lower, but considering where this group started, wow, they came along well.  This was a group that had huge executive functioning issues coming out of Covid as well as insufficient number sense.  We’ve watched this group for years.  We were proud of how they ended.  As we analyzed the math data yesterday, there were ten kids that missed a “4” on CMAS by one or two questions.  Many kids didn’t finish as we look at the names.  We are confident this group is poised to made a lot of growth in fifth grade now that they are understanding how to “do school.” I don’t want to say this is our grade level with the most special education students but it is.  That’s a reality in our data but we don’t make excuses.  Actually two of them earned 4’s on CMAS, and we were super proud of them. Our goal is a year’s growth or more from every child.  Our CMAS growth scores aren’t in yet, but we did have MAP growth scores, as indicated in our end-of-year overview for my School Accountability Committee.
  5. We just adopted a new literacy curriculum, so we are literally today still cross walking the scope and sequence with what we currently have in place that we created years ago. Thus the updated 23-24 scope and sequence with highlights. The word inventories we use to place students on the continuum of skills.
  6. Median Growth Percentile on CMAS for 4th grade, which was in question was 64 for ELA and 63 for Math, which is considered HIGH growth.  (50 is typical) So even though achievement looked lower, they grew a ton!


John C Irwin Award from CDE for academic achievement: 2012-2019 and again in 2022.  (not given for two years during the pandemic)

Governor's Distinguished Improvement Award from CDE: 2013, 2014