Northeast Elementary

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

Northeast Elementary School is an intermediate school serving 3rd - 5th grades in Parker, Colorado.  We have a student population of approximately 300 students that includes a district center-based program for special education services.  Approximately 30 licensed staff members work to achieve our mission: ensure ALL our students acquire the knowledge and skills essential to achieving their full potential and becoming productive citizens. 

In January of 2019, the Northeast principal attended a PLC at Work conference with a fellow district principal.  They were both looking to grow their toolboxes to support greater student learning in their buildings.  This was such a powerful experience that our principal took the entire building leadership team, composed of staff from grade level teams, specials, and special education, to a PLC event that summer.  Following this experience, the team couldn’t wait to bring this learning back to our school and serve as our school’s guiding coalition.  They saw the potential of a team of dedicated professions acutely focused on the 3 big ideas of PLC: learning, collaboration and results.

Our guiding coalition worked to develop our 19/20 beginning of year professional development to provide our staff an introduction to professional learning communities utilizing resources from the PLC at Work conference and Learning by Doing.  Our building functions in a shared leadership model.  The guiding coalition worked collectively with the staff to develop our mission, vision, values (collective commitments), and goals that would serve as our foundation for the work moving forward.  Every person had a voice in the work.  Through the utilization of several planning days, teacher collaborative teams worked to prioritize the state standards to clearly define what teams collectively identified all students must learn.  The Northeast principal and assistant principal partnered with the collaborative teacher teams in this work, building in professional development, and modeling along the way to support the creation of instructional units aligned to these essential standards.  We were feeling a common focus and success as we were moving into second semester only to encounter something we never expected, the reality that we found ourselves navigating a pandemic and a switch to remote learning.  This only reinforced the passion and purpose we had in the need to function as a professional learning community for the students we serve.  

As we entered year two, still navigating changing postures for in-person learning, we clearly understood the critical importance of having those essential learning standards identified for literacy and math.  We felt we had possibly identified too many standards as essential the year prior only to determine that this was especially true in the ever changing model of “school'' we were facing.  This led us to re-examine and narrow the number of priority standards that we had identified.  These became known as our superhero standards.  As teacher collaborative teams worked to further develop and refine units with clear success criteria and common assessments aligned to the super hero standards.  Our next step was to form a School Intervention Team, made up of staff from across our system.  This team worked throughout the year to create a protocol to further how we would support intervention and extension aligned to the superhero standards.  This team participated in a book study: Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work to guide our development of the protocol.  From that work we created the Northeast Elementary Tier 1 and 2 Intervention Protocol to introduce at the start of the following year.    

Year 3 was a return to a more normal school year.  Staff were excited to see all their students back in person and have the opportunity to be in the same room to laugh and learn together.  We kicked off our year creating a PLC at Work event right here at our school!  The opportunity to buy virtual seats to this on demand conference was an incredible grounding and teambuilder to kick off the year.  Our Building Leadership Team worked over summer to reformat our master schedule to build in a dedicated 50 minute EAGLE (enhancing academic grade-level essentials) time go support intervention and extension at each grade level that didn’t lead to an overlap for our learning specialists and interventionist.  We created clear norms to support use of this time to respond to student learning needs focused on specific learning targets connected to the essential (superhero) standards.  In addition, teacher teams met weekly in administration supported formal collaborative team meetings, along with common planning time for grade level teams on the other four days of the week.  

The principal and assistant principal utilized the initial weekly team meetings to provide differentiated support and professional development to teams in identifying clear learning targets and assessments aligned to those targets.  We set a SMART goal for each collaborative teacher team: We will move from having only partially developed instructional units that follow the entire PLC cycle to a minimum of 6 (3 math, 3 literacy) fully developed units by the end of the 21/22 school year.  A 15 Day Challenge template was utilized to support common formatting for the refinement and further development of these instructional units.   

Our school intervention team introduced the Northeast Elementary Tier 1 and 2 Intervention Protocol and the Northeast Common Assessment and Team Response Protocol to support teams in utilizing data and setting SMART goals for targeted intervention and extension groups aligned to essential standards.  Teams participated in analysis of their assessments to understand student learning, especially to support areas of strength and learning gaps, to work as a team to develop next steps.  Teams would discuss their various strengths and how to utilize these to help support intervention and extension groups aligned to essential standards.  At the end of each year, our teams reflect on their functioning as a professional learning community.  They consider successes, challenges, examine qualitative and quantitative data of student learning, and their own practice to determine next steps and set new goals moving forward.   

The positive impact of this work to our culture can not be overstated.  Early on in this work we adopted the hashtag, WE>ME.  This collaborative effort has deepened the connection across our entire staff.  Staff report seeing the power of functioning this way to support student learning transfer in the data they are seeing across their grade level.  They often wonder aloud how they ever served in the role of educator prior to our work to develop into a high functioning professional learning community.  Our collective commitment to this work helps support our students' learning at high levels and provides a system and structure that ensures this. 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our teams work together to identify essential standards and develop instructional units with clear learning targets, success criteria, and aligned common formative and summative assessments in literacy and math.  As teams consider the timeline for a given unit, they break units into manageable chunks of learning targets with an aligned common formative assessment that is utilized to provide interventions and extension within a unit.  This is a real benefit to students' mastery of essential standards all along the way.  Formative and summative assessments are created and data reviewed collaboratively to plan and respond in instruction.  Data used to drive decisions for group reteaching or extended learning experiences are provided in our EAGLE (intervention and extension) time that has been strategically built into our master schedule to maximize our human capital.  The summative assessments at the conclusion of each instructional unit allow us to understand the overall mastery toward the identified essential standard and work collaboratively to review student growth, strengths, and next steps as well as what adjustments we might need to make as we continue refining our instructional units of study.  As we continue to build our professional capacity, our ability to create high quality instructional units and assessments only continues to improve and provide deeper understanding of student learning.   

Systems are in place to support our functioning as a professional learning community.  One such example are our formal weekly meetings.  Administration helps support this work.  Running PLC Google Docs are structured as agenda/note-taking documents allowing teachers to collaborate and respond to student learning on an ongoing basis.  These are also accessible to other support staff and are quite helpful for our special education team as they consider how they might help front load a student for greater success in tier 1 instruction of the given unit.  Teams create their own tracking tools to support their analysis of the strengths and areas of improvement for each student and monitor this on a weekly basis.  Teams are able to spend the majority of their time reviewing and reflecting on student learning data, discussing how to adapt instruction, and planning what’s to come next. 

 

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

Prior to our work to develop as a professional learning community, teachers were often uncertain what their role was in providing interventions and how to measure their success.  All teachers are responsible for delivering intervention and extension within their classrooms.  The work we have done over the last three years has helped our teachers be crystal clear in the specific skills students are learning and having a collective process and plan for supporting and measuring that student learning.  This makes their interventions much more targeted and successful.  Teachers are clear on what and how they will measure what we expect our students to learn in our guaranteed and viable curriculum.  

Our School Intervention Team has developed the Northeast Elementary Tier 1 and 2 Intervention Protocol and utilizes the Northeast Common Assessment and Team Response Protocol to support teams in analyzing data and setting SMART goals for targeted intervention and extension groups aligned to essential standards.  These groups are flexible and created collaboratively.  The special education teachers, mental health team, interventionist, and GT coordinator are part of these conversations to provide additional resources and strategies to general education teachers.  Students needing the most intensive intervention are put in the smallest groups.  Teacher teams discuss their own strengths and align teaching strengths to the needs of students.    

In addition, we adjusted our master schedule to be strategic in creating a dedicated EAGLE time (50 minutes daily) to support intervention and extension.  There is no new tier one instruction during this block.  Therefore, students don’t miss important instruction on priorities happening within their classrooms.  Students from across the grade level are grouped with similar needs based on formative assessment data and are supported or extended on specific learning targets.  The interventionist and learning specialists are utilized during this time to support a continuum of intervention. 

Our teachers create SMART goals for each group based off of their common assessment data.  They reflect on progress weekly.  Students needing additional intervention are referred to the School Intervention Team through a Kid Talk meeting where we utilize a pro-solve intervention targeting process which we call a Kid Talk to guide our next steps.

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

We worked with our school’s PTO to help them understand the impact that training in professional learning communities would have on student learning and how the investment in teacher training would support teacher retention.  They graciously offered to help us raise funds to support every certified staff member receiving the PLC at Work training.  Our Building Leadership Team meets prior to each professional development day to review feedback from the previous day and set the direction based on our discussions utilizing the Professional Learning Communities Continuum for the next PD day.  We work to build in options that further our work in how we function as a PLC that participants are able to select that best align to their next steps.   

 
Ongoing professional development is a key component to continuous improvement for staff and students at Northeast.  “Boot camps are offered throughout the year on topics determined by our Building Leadership Team and School Intervention Team based on areas of need or staff request.  

Our administration team supports weekly formal PLC teams as this time is powerful job-embedded staff development as we work as a collective team to learn from one another, identify common problems, engage in action research, and discuss student learning.  Our teacher teams utilize the protocol, Critical Issues for Team Consideration, to reflect and identify celebrations, areas for improvement, and help determine next steps to set goals several times throughout the school year.   

Specialists (art, music, PE and STEAM teachers) meet weekly and have utilized parts of the book: How to Create PLCs for Singletons and Small Schools as a book study to support further development as a team.  They have analyzed classroom qualitative data to select problem solving as an common area of focus for students across the specials classrooms working collaboratively to develop success criteria for students.  They are intentional in building skills of this essential into their instructional units through the year. 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Thank you to the The Elementary Evidence of Effectiveness Committee for your consideration and feedback on our application.  We have recently received our Spring 2022 state accountability data and are thrilled to be able to share this as requested for this application.  We have seen significant improvement and we have no doubt that it has to do with our work to become a high performing professional learning community.  We still have continued opportunites for growth and are thankful for this work as we know it will only continue to benefit our students!  

As a note, you will see that our iReady data is for grades 3-5.  We are an intermediate school and only serve those grades.

We look forward to hearing back from you!  

 

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