Springfield Elementary

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

Tell us how you built shared understanding and commitment to the PLC at Work process.

     Springfield Elementary began our journey with the PLC at Work process during the 2017-2018 school year. That year, our principal and several other school leaders attended a PLC at Work conference. The goal was to bring PLC practices back to our school in an effort to improve student learning. While the Fort Mill School District has historically been a high performing district, our school attendance zone had recently changed, altering both the school demographics and student academic performance. Our school leaders realized that we needed to adjust our school culture and practices in order to ensure that all of our students would be successful. Prior to this focus on PLC practices, our teachers had met in grade level teams with established norms and goals, but there was no true focus on student learning. To begin implementing PLC practices, our teams started meeting once a week to focus specifically on math instruction. During that first year, teams chose essential standards, created common assessments, and implemented a guaranteed curriculum across grade levels. We saw an immediate increase in proficiency on our end of year testing. The next year, teams started meeting twice a week. They began implementing PLC practices in ELA, while continuing the work they had previously started in math PLC. Since then, we have continued to build on our practices to ensure that we are doing the right work as a PLC. This slow start and gradual build to full PLC implementation has resulted in more teacher buy-in and schoolwide commitment to the PLC process. As a school, we have stayed committed to being a truly collaborative PLC in order for our students to learn at high levels despite the challenges we have faced with COVID, as well as an increase in our transient student population and number of students in poverty.

     Since we began the PLC process, we have sent groups of teachers and administrators to PLC at Work conferences each summer (except for Covid years) to continue to build our collective buy-in and understanding of this process. In 2018, our administration and instructional leaders also went to see Anthony Muhammed speak at a local university, which gave us insight about how to build a positive school culture. During the summer of 2021, we had our grade-chair and instructional team leaders participate in a virtual PLC conference, as well as a school-led training day to prepare for leading their teams in the PLC process. We have begun each school year with a staff-wide professional development on the PLC process in order to continue to build our school culture and understanding of this process. This school-led professional development has been an essential part of building our staff’s understanding and commitment to the PLC culture. Our administrators and teachers who attend the conferences in the summertime lead this training each year. Even though our school has been a PLC focused school for several years now, we feel that it is vital to begin each school year with training and time for rebuilding our school culture. This not only helps any new staff members learn about the process, but also refreshes our entire school’s PLC culture. Each year we review the foundations of the PLC process, as well as participate in discussions and collective goal setting sessions centered around our PLC vision for the upcoming school year. In addition to our staff-wide training, our collaborative teams meet at the beginning of the year to create norms, roles, and set goals for their twice weekly PLC team meetings.  

Tell us how you are facilitating a culture of continuous improvement in your school or district.

      As a school, we try to maintain a culture of continuous improvement through our efforts in professional development and our focus on PLC practices. Our teachers participate in monthly professional development provided by our instructional coaches. The PD sessions are responsive based on teacher requests, needs seen during observations, or new effective practices. Our coaches have begun to develop more individualized PD opportunities for teachers as well. As our teachers vary in experience levels, individualized learning can foster improvement in instruction for all teachers. Our coaches do individual coaching cycles with teachers upon request to help improve instructional practices. This upcoming school year we are beginning a few lab classrooms, where our coaches will be co-teaching with certain teachers for longer periods of time. Other teachers will cycle through these lab classrooms, observing the instructional best practices that our coaches will help teachers implement.  

     We also maintain a culture of continuous improvement through the ongoing refinement of our practices as a PLC during our team meetings. One area we have specifically focused on improving is the collaboration between general education and special education classrooms, so that we can ensure ALL students will truly learn at high levels. We have now altered our resource special education teachers’ schedules so that they can join in the grade level team meetings. This allows for true collaboration and an intentional bridge from the general education classroom to the special education classroom. Additionally, our self-contained special education teachers meet together to discuss common data trends and further their learning with coaches based on the needs of their students. We continue to focus on improving our grade level team meetings to ensure that we are focusing on the right work. It can be easy for team meetings to just focus on instructional planning together, so over the years we have worked to balance discussions around all of the four critical questions. Our teams have grown from participating in surface level conversations about lesson planning to critically reviewing assessments to ensure they are rigorous and fair, analyzing student data to identify specific student learning needs, collaborating on finding more effective instructional practices to address student learning gaps, and consistently providing timely interventions. 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

   Describe the process that your school or district uses to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum.

 Our school has taken several steps to ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students. Our grade level teams meet at least once a week for a team planning time that includes all subject areas. They use this time to check that they are on pace with each other and teaching the same standards, as well as share ideas and strategies for instruction. We allow for differentiated instructional methods that fit each teacher’s style and students’ needs, but we expect that all teachers within a grade level are teaching the same standards at the same time. More of this essential work is done in our twice weekly PLC team meetings. One meeting each week is set aside for math and one is set aside for ELA. In math, our teams have established essential standards in order to focus their instruction and, more importantly, their remediation. Understanding the importance of backwards planning, our teachers discuss and deconstruct their essential standards at the beginning of each unit, as well as review their formative and summative common assessments to ensure rigor and clarity. While assessments may include some non-essential standards, the focus of reteaching and remediation remains solely on the essential standards. This guarantees that all students develop a strong mathematical foundation. In ELA, our teams are working to create and utilize common assessments for writing, reading, and phonics. One of the goals for our ELA PLC meetings is to help teachers be more responsive in their instruction to meet student needs based on data. Prior to implementing PLC practices, teachers simply taught our ELA curriculum as written, and moved on without checking for true learning. Now they have created both formative and summative assessments to monitor student learning, which allows them to adjust their instruction and remediate as needed. One example of this is the work our teams have done on our school reading assessments. Teacher teams have reflected on essential teaching points for each unit, edited district-created assessments to better align to these essential teaching points, and adjusted the rigor of the assessments to make them more appropriate. We found that these new common assessments yielded data that our teachers were able to analyze more effectively. As a result, our teachers saw an immediate improvement in their ability to reteach students. In both math and ELA, teacher teams continually analyze data from common assessments in order to reflect on effective practices of both individual teacher and team plans. Through this analysis, our teams have made many adjustments to instructional practices and construction of unit plans, guaranteeing high quality instruction for all students.  

Describe the strategies your school (district) uses to monitor student learning on a timely basis.

      All of our grade levels utilize common formative and summative assessments to monitor student learning. Within our Kindergarten and First Grade teams, teachers utilize more formative assessments like phonetic skills checks, running records, reading engagement assessments, and exit tickets. They use this data to adjust their small group instruction and whole group reteaching. They also utilize summative assessments at the end of math units and benchmark reading assessments to monitor student learning. In team meetings, teachers will bring student work to analyze together and discuss reteaching or small group instruction strategies. In our older grade levels, teachers utilize formative assessments in the middle of units like exit tickets, quizzes, and quick checks for understanding. These formative assessments are used to adjust unit plans and instructional strategies if students are struggling to grasp the concepts taught. The data from these formative assessments is also used to plan small group instruction and enrichment activities. Teams bring these assessments to team meetings to look at student work and discuss effective instructional strategies. Summative assessments are given at the end of each unit and analyzed to see which students have mastered the essential standards. Before summative assessments are given, teams discuss what mastery looks like and which assessment items to analyze. Students who do not master the essential standards are placed in Tier 2 groups for remediation. Our teachers meet twice a week and attempt to schedule their assessments so that the data can be analyzed in a timely manner for reteaching and remediation. 

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

     Our school schedule and instructional workshop models both give teachers time to provide differentiated instruction, including intervention and enrichment. Built into our daily schedule is a 30 minute I/E (intervention or enrichment) block that is protected time for teachers to use in order to remediate or extend student learning. No whole group instruction is allowed during this time, but students work independently on differentiated assignments while the teacher pulls students for remediation or other small group instruction. This time is also used by our school’s interventionists and special education teachers for their instruction. Utilizing this I/E block prevents many students from missing any main classroom instruction for additional academic services. Our teachers also use the workshop model for both ELA and math instruction. The workshop model allows teachers to work with small groups of students for differentiated instruction based on student needs after their whole group instruction is given through a mini lesson. If I/E time cannot be used, students in need of additional support from an interventionist or special education teacher are only pulled from the classroom after the completion of the mini lesson to ensure that all students are a part of on-grade level instruction. 

     Our teams’ analysis of common assessments, as well as school-wide usage of MTSS ensures that we are constantly reviewing student data and that our remediation is systematic. Our teams review formative assessments for remediation within units, and then review summative assessments at the end of units to determine students that have not mastered essential standards and who may require Tier 2 interventions. In math, students who have not mastered essential standards by the summative assessment are put into skill deficit groups and picked up for remediation by our math interventionists. In ELA, students who have not mastered essential skills are placed in Tier 2 groups and teachers remediate during their I/E block. Students who show significant, below-grade level gaps in math, as determined by performance on common assessments and our standardized STAR benchmark assessment, are placed in Tier 3 groups and work with our math interventionists. Our standardized STAR benchmark and Fountas and Pinnell assessments are used to identify students who are significantly behind in reading proficiency. These students are placed in Tier 3 groups and work with our reading interventionists. All first graders are screened several times a year and the lowest 10% are served by two reading recovery teachers. Our grade levels meet as an MTSS team every six weeks to discuss teacher concerns and review data of students in Tiers 2 & 3.

 

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

     In order for our school to be a true PLC that is doing the right work, our teacher teams must be truly collaborative and focused. We spend time each year training both our new and returning staff on PLC practices and beliefs because we believe that our entire school culture and systems should be focused on the learning of all students. This is the lens we use to make decisions about programming, curriculum, schedules, etc. that affects student learning. All team meetings operate in the same manner, with team norms and agendas to make sure that teams are able to focus on the right work. When collaborative teacher teams meet, their agendas are created ahead of time so that all members may be prepared and that their collaborative time is used wisely and effectively. Our meetings must focus on one or more of the 4 critical questions: 1) What knowledge and skills should every student acquire as a result of this unit of instruction? 2) How will we know when each student has acquired the essential knowledge and skills? 3) How will we respond when some students do not learn? 4) How will we extend and enrich the learning for students who are already proficient? Instructional coaches and an administrator join each team meeting in order to provide support and coaching as needed in professional practices. Each team periodically reflects either our PLC practices or our team dynamics and collaboration. As our grade level teams change and grow, the administrators and coaches occasionally have to coach our teams on how to stay focused and what it looks like to be doing the right work in meetings. However, each year our PLC culture grows and is strengthened when teacher leaders transform grade levels into highly effective collaborative teams.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

     During the 2019-2020 school year, our school was able to monitor our student progress through common formative and summative assessments as well as standardized benchmark assessments like the STAR assessment. The benchmark assessments showed typical student performance although we were unable to see the true growth or proficiency since the students were not able to take it in the Spring. Our common assessments were showing student growth based on class averages compared to previous years. An example of one grade level’s assessment averages is attached above.

     The challenges presented to us by Covid caused a large dip in our student’s achievement data in 2021. Our ELA proficiency went from 63.5% in 2019 down to 54.9% in 2021 and math proficiency from 70.8% down to 55%. We had to rely on our PLC culture and practices even more to fill the gaps caused by quarantining, virtual learning, and changing demographics like an increase of homeless students. Due to our staff’s commitment to this process, our preliminary scores for 2022 have seen an exciting improvement. Our school’s math proficiency has risen almost ten percent to 64.9% and our ELA proficiency has risen seven percent to 62.4%. Even more exciting is the growth seen in the reading proficiency portion of the ELA test. Our work in reading PLC teams caused a growth of reading proficiency from 57.6% to 71%. This is a higher reading proficiency percentile than before the pandemic. We can credit this growth to the school wide goals of improving the reading common assessments and more effectively utilizing data to change instruction and provide timely interventions. We believe that our continued commitment to a PLC culture will allow our school to have even higher achievement than before the Covid challenges. 

  • Palmetto Gold Award for Excellence Rating- 2017-2018

  • Palmetto Gold Award for Excellence Rating-  2018-2019*

  • Winners or Runner Up in York Electric Cooperative Children’s Book Challenge- 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

  • 5210 Gold Status for the Healthy Together Program-2021

  • STEAM Partnership with Discovery Education-2017-2021

*This was the last year these were given out due to Covid. 

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