Bartow County College and Career Academy (2023)

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

The Bartow County School System (BCSS) began the quest to become a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in 2018 under the guidance of Superintendent, Dr. Phillip Page. Leaders from the Bartow County College and Career Academy (BCCCA) attended the Culture Keepers Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with other school leaders during the summer. During the fall of 2018, leaders began a study of Learning by Doing (DuFour, 2016) and began a process to collaboratively shift school culture. 

As part of the overarching BCSS mission to become a PLC, the BCCCA first created a Guiding Coalition. Members were carefully selected based on their influence, credibility among the staff, and their ability to lead.Our Guiding Coalition began by writing new mission and vision statements and created collective commitments. Using Learning by Doing, the Guiding Coalition studied the three big ideas, the four guiding questions, and the critical vocabulary of the PLC. These initial leaders helped to lay the foundation for collaborative teams that would begin working together in the fall semester of 2019. Our team continued to train throughout the year by deconstructing standards and determining which standards were essential using the R.E.A.L. acronym. Guiding Coalition members also attended PLC at Work Institute during the summer of 2019 to continue their learning. 

During the 2019-2020 school year, the BCCCA formed its first collaborative teams.  The BCCCA is a small school, and teachers often teach three to four courses per year. During the fall semester of 2019, all English teachers were required to teach and collaborate on American Literature.  The social studies department worked on US History, although one member also served on a cross-school Economics team with Cass High School.  The healthcare teachers and singleton CTAE teachers formed two final teams.  Each team began the process of establishing norms, team roles, SMART goals, and selecting essential standards.  With our new school schedule, teams collaborated two mornings per week to develop common pacing guides, create learning targets, and develop common formative assessments. Teachers also learned how to analyze assessment data using data protocols. 

The 2020-2021 school year began with challenges, teachers struggled with learning how to instruct students in the classroom while simultaneously teaching students via Microsoft Teams. The BCCCA persevered in its vision of becoming a PLC and began a study of Design in Five(Vagle, 2015)to improve assessment development skills. BCSS also added the Learning Support Specialist (LSS) position to every school in the district. The focus of the LSS was questions three and four (What do we do when students have not learned? What do we do when students have learned?) and for providing professional learning on the RTI process.  An additional study of Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work (Buffum, 2019) guided our team through the challenge of carving out time for systematic Tier 2 interventions and extensions. Originally, the Guiding Coalition created a scheduled time that we called Academy Hour.  Complications with this plan led our school leaders to seek advice from Solution Tree consultant, Angie Freese. Freese suggested that given our school’s unique dynamics, that we build Tier 2 interventions directly into our pacing guides. 

The BCCCA experienced tremendous change during the 2021-2022 school year. The school received a new principal, a new assistant principal, and a new LSS. Forty-four percent of the teaching staff changed. Despite this massive change in school make-up, the Guiding Coalition held fast to our commitment to using the PLC process to improve student learning. The year involved retraining new ELA teachers in the vocabulary and processes of a PLC. Other teams, including US History and Healthcare, who were less affected by the change began developing learning progressions. (US History example) Students used these progressions to provide evidence of their learning and teachers used them to provide feedback to students. The BCCCA also added a new exceptional education teacher in 21-22 as the number of students with IEPs increased. The addition of this teacher allowed us to serve more students who would benefit from the career pathways we offer. US History saw solid improvement in EOC scores.  The healthcare team also saw gains in the percentage of students earning national credentials. 

The 2022-2023 school year has been one of continuous learning and striving to improve our processes. The BCSS recognized our US History and Healthcare teams as A-Teams. World History and Economics worked to improve assessments and utilizing data to inform instruction. The CTAE team developed an learning progression for resume’ writing and developed common rubrics to assess both resumes and interviews. The ELA team experimented in all subject areas; however, we are still adjusting instructional practices to get the results we seekOne celebration for both of our academic areas is that BCCCA exceptional education  the district in both American Literature and US History during the 2022-2023 school year 

An improvement made this year is in both Tier 1 and Tier 2 behavioral interventions. The local ICARE team focused on SWIS behavioral data and worked to develop processes to prevent office discipline referrals. This included better supervision as well as training on Tier 1 behavioral interventions and de-escalation strategies. The Site Intervention Team (SIT) also improved over the 2022-2023 school year. The team existed in years past, but the monthly meeting was ineffective in meeting the needs of our students. The SIT team meets once per week and focuses on skill and will students systematically.By the end of each semester, 100% of students referred to SIT met proficiency on essential standards during 2022-2023. 

Another great stride made in 2022-2023 is the addition of a school counselor to our staff. Our counselor serves as a liaison between dual enrollment classes and the Site Intervention Team. Previously, the BCCCA had limited information regarding the academic proficiency of students in our dual enrollment programs. Our school counselor regularly communicates with the dual enrollment instructors to determine which students might need extra help. With this information, the SIT team has organized support structures to help students with time management, planning, and focus. In addition to supporting dual enrollment students, our school counselor serves as a critical liaison between the BCCCA and the base schools to ensure that students receive the support they need across schools. 

Looking forward to 2023-2024, the BCCCA plans to provide increased systematic support to our ELA team. Our goal is to coach our CTAE and World History teams using the BCSS A-Team application.We hope to refocus our energies on better Tier 1 instruction and prevention to reduce over-emphasis on intervention. Together, the BCCCA educators will continue to collaboratively ensure that all our students are set to be enrolled, enlisted, or employed upon graduation. 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Collaborative teams at the BCCCA monitor student learning on a timely basis through Common Formative Assessments (CFAs) and Common Summative Assessments (CSAs). Teams conduct these assessments within a teaching and assessing cycle. Initially, collaborative teams select essential standards using the REAL acronym.  Teams then break these standards into student-friendly learning targetsThe teams organize learning targets into learning progressions (Cosmetology example) that clearly communicate learning expectations to students. As a result of our unique structure, collaborative teams include prevention, intervention, and extension within their pacing guide prior to beginning their teaching and assessing cycle.  

 Teams use different tools to collect and monitor student learning. The US History, WorldHistoryEconomics, and Healthcare teams avidly use an online tool that enables them to collect real-time data, respond to individual students, and find whole-class misconceptions. The ELA  team primarily usesthe school system’s Learning Management System and written assessments to collect data. The CTAE courses are more skills-based and use rubrics and scoring guides to monitorproficiency.Following CFAs and CSAs, collaborative teams meet to analyze data using a set of guiding questions developed by school leaders. For CFAs, teachers use a CFA protocol form to identify students in need of prevention.Teachers then collaboratively plan a Tier 1 response. 

 Following CSAs, the team meets again to analyze data through our system of guiding questions. Teachers also enter proficiency data into a shared data form that tracks every student by sub-group on every essential standard for the course (US History Example, American Lit Example). Each teacher on the team can see every student who has not met proficiency on the essential standard. They use this data to plan Tier 2 interventions collaboratively and track when a student exits Tier 2. The data sheet also provides an overview that allows teachers to see how exceptional education and English-language learner students are doing compared to their general education counterparts. Team members, academic support specialists, and administrators all have access to this data sheet so that we have accurate and up-to-date information on which students are in Tier 2 and which students have exited.The BCCCA passionately believes that student learning is a collective responsibility of all educators, and these monitoring tools help us to ensure that all students reach proficiency on essential standards. 

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

Tier 2 intervention and extension time posed a dilemma for the teachers at the BCCCA when initiating the PLC at Work process.  Our students are only on campus for a half day in the morning or afternoon session.  Finding time for Tier 2 time was difficult, however, through trial and error we found a system that provides ample support to our students. 

In the fall of 2020, the BCCCA attempted to implement a time called “Academy Hour” two days per week.    After about two months, the Guiding Coalition looked at data and listened to teacher and student feedback. Ultimately, the team decided that the Academy Hour period was ineffective and that we needed to use our time more prudently.  Collaborative teams were not seeing the improvements in student performance that were expected, and students were frustrated with the tremendous amount of movement.   

In November of 2020, the Guiding Coalition of the BCCCA decided to reach out to Solution Tree for support. Leaders met with consultant, Angie Freese, who helped us problem-solve through our unique schedule.  She advised the team to have teachers to build Tier 2 time into their regular class time.  Teams now build Tier 2 interventions into their pacing guide.  Pacing guides are shared with school administrators and academic support specialists so that they may monitor and assist with Tier 2 intervention and extension. This has proven to be a much more effective and less disruptive model for the school.   

In the fall of 2021, the BCCCA added a level of Tier 2 support for students called “Triple E Success Day.”  The phrase “Triple E” refers to the desire to have all graduates “employed, enlisted, or enrolled” when they leave the BCCCA.  One day during the semester, the BCCCA pauses Tier 1 instruction. Students who are not proficient in essential standards go to their regularly scheduled classes for intervention support.  Students who have met essential standards attend extension sessions that are planned and scheduled by the learning support specialist.  Many of the sessions are related directly to career pathways. For example, healthcare students had a nurse as a guest speaker.  The public safety students were able to become “Stop the Bleed” certified as many of them hope to be first responders.  US History students were able to attend a session on Civil War medicine.   

The use of “Triple E Success Day” has had positive results in moving students back into Tier 1.  In addition, teachers can schedule “rolling Triple E Success Days” with the academic support team to make more time for intervention and extension.  The support specialists assist with extensions to allow the team more focused time with students needing intervention. The BCCCA provides the final layer of Tier 2 intervention during the district-required, five-day period at the end of each semester.  Students still striving to reach proficiency on essential standards receive intensive intervention time during these days.  Extensions are arranged by teams and academic support specialists for students who have already reached proficiency. 

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

The BCCCA fundamentally believes that “…educators must work collaboratively and take collective responsibility for the success of each student,” (DuFour et. al., 2016). Our first collaborative steps began with a Guiding CoalitionThis Guiding Coalition serves as the collaborative instructional leadership of our school. By first creating our mission, vision, and collective commitments, the Guiding Coalition has helped our school culture shift to a focus on learning, a collaborative culture, and a focus on results. The Guiding Coalition examines student data and addresses barriers that stand in the way of student learning. We work together to implement best-practices that support student learning for all students. 

Each member of the Guiding Coalition facilitates a collaborative team.  Collaborative teams meet at least twice per week to focus on the four guiding questions to ensure improved student learning. Collaborative teams view all students as “our students” and work together to ensure that each student reaches proficiency on essential standards.  Collaborative planning time is scheduled into the school day and is tightly protected.  Academic departments frequently meet vertically to ensure that we are serving the needs of students across grade levels. The principal, assistant principal, reading interventionist, and learning support specialist protect this time as well to provide critical support to teams as they work through teaching and assessing cycles. Finally, the BCCCA is a small school that has more singleton teachers than most other schools. We have actively sought collaborative opportunities across the district with other teams. We believe that we will only improve student outcomes by bringing people together with a focus on learning. 

Finally, our faculty collaborates to actively teach positive classroom and workplace behaviors. Through our Tier 1 behavioral team (I.C.A.R.E. team), teachers research and implement evidence-based strategies that teach positive behaviors. We focus on teaching behaviors that demonstrate integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellenceTeachers recognize students who exhibit these positive behaviors with ICARE cards and Academy cashThe team conducts monthly drawings and celebrations to reinforce these positive behaviors. The team meets monthly to examine SWIS data and research best-practices to improve school culture and reduce discipline referrals.  The BCCCA is committed to collaboratively educating the whole child to ensure that they are ready to enroll, enlist, or become employed after graduation. Only through systematic collaboration can we reach all students to ensure that they have the skills they need to be successful in their adult lives. 

In December of 2022, the BCCCA US History team was recognized as an A-Team by the local school district.  This was our first A-Team and the first US History A-Team for the district.

In February 2023, the BCCCA Healthcare team was recognized as an A-Team as well.  This is the first CTAE team in the district to receive this recognition.