Carnall Elementary (2022)

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

I have completed my fourth year as Principal of Carnall Elementary in the Fort Smith Public School District. Carnall is unique in that it houses two Emotionally Disturbed classrooms, a Moderate program (students whose IQ is below 60), two mild Self-Contained classrooms, and Resource (general education students that require some Tier III services with an IEP). Carnall calculates to a thirty percent Special Education population.  In addition, our demographic is ninety percent free and reduced lunch. I began the journey at Carnall by providing a survey to all staff, asking questions like what traditions they valued, what they wanted to change, and what they would accomplish if there were no barriers. Overwhelmingly, they wanted to change in almost every area, and every staff member had a dream. The information gave me hope, and we went to work. I met with staff members individually so that they could share their stories.  I created a strategic learning plan for the first year that included a focus on urgency, working and learning (everybody does their part all day to achieve student success), and changing the culture of our school.  I facilitated many pieces of training and professional development around the PLC process, presented researched articles on how students learn, conducted classroom observations with feedback, and provided monthly team-building activities. I became exhausted and did not understand distributed leadership. According to the data, our third through sixth graders grew three to six percent in most content areas on the ACT Aspire at the end of the first year. In our end-of-year meetings, most staff members felt confident about the content and committed to student success; still, I knew something was missing. 

Over the summer, I met Dr. Will Remmert, Solution Tree associate. Over the next year, he partnered hybrid with me to implement a guiding coalition and collectively create a mission and vision, collective commitments, and values.  We also implemented a leadership team, response to intervention team (HOPE), and Positive Behavior Support team based on staff input: one different representative from grades k-2 and 3-6, Special Education, specialty areas, paraprofessionals, our counselor, and administration team.

In addition, the staff spent time reading and applying  Learning by Doing, Ten Mindframes for Visible Learning,  and Kids Deserve It. The work changed the trajectory of our school.  Teachers began using the language.   In addition, we began creating essential standards for every grade level, aligning them vertically, and providing Tier 1, 2, and 3 services to students. Year 2 and 3, we also focused on Parental Involvement; we had an event almost every month. The best predictor of student success is how families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education. At the end of the 2018.19 school year, our school was the only elementary within FSPS making gains in all sixteen areas of the ACT Aspire, our state assessment. 

We were very hopeful to enter this school year despite COVID-19. During our remote learning, we rallied around our students, parents, and staff creating lessons and meeting our students' needs in various ways. During the quarantine, our PLC teams co-created scope and sequence for each grade level, formative assessments for essential standards, and aligned standards in grades 2nd-6th.  Our perceptual surveys revealed we drew closer as a professional learning community. Ways that we provided an integrated approach to student achievement included Dr. Dickey’s work on performance-based objectives, teaching academic vocabulary, and gradual release in the classroom, which includes a rubric for feedback. Our PLC agendas were focused on teaching and learning; teachers created a teaching and assessing cycle for each essential standard, analyzed data, discovered ways to differentiate for students, and discussed instructional practices in the Science of Reading. Our organizational energy continues to move  in the same direction: In the words of Kenneth Williams, “We are starting a forward movement.”


We first built a shared understanding and commitment to the PLC process by setting aside protected time for our PLC team meetings.  Dr. Will Remmert worked with our teachers, including the guiding coalition, to write the collective commitments that would lead us to a shared vision and become mission-driven.  This time together motivated others to attend various Solution Tree meetings to learn more about the PLC process.  

In team meetings, teachers created norms, and reviewed collective commitments and Carnall’s mission and vision.  We celebrated one another’s progress and learning.  Teams made agendas to keep the focus on exemplary work and answering the four critical questions: What do we want students to learn, how do we know if they understood it, what will we do if they don’t, and what will we do if they already know it?  Everyone involved committed to bringing data to the team meeting as we had built a culture of trust.  The students in our school became all our kids, and with that passion, we knew we needed each other to ensure a guaranteed viable curriculum for all. 

Teachers desegregated the pre and post-assessment data to discover who had learned the essential standard and then to build intervention groups for students who had not yet mastered the skill.  They designed unique learning opportunities for those students who had. For example, in math, one group as an extension for ratios was seen twice a week to design and create a consumer board game.  Not only did students have to use their skills to work out the math problems, but they had to write questions of multiple difficulty levels.  In literacy, a group of students struggling with vocabulary and comprehension joined a book study with the title one specialist.  Our HOPE team also identified students who were not excelling and set up mentors to meet weekly as a partnership.  

Once teachers became invested, identifying essential standards, designing units, and teaching through the inquiry cycle escalated.  Carnall began to have a culture of continuous improvement.  We started book studies like Culturize by Jimmy Casas, The Art and Science of Teaching by Marzano, and The Carpenter by Jon Gordon. These opportunities to learn and grow together created a sense of family and community.  Next, teachers were given collaboration time after school as paid professional development where they could design stations to help either struggling students or create opportunities for others to excel.  

As we continued to progress and reflected on our current work in establishing a mission, vision, and values, we realized that teams needed to set new goals. To continue progress, students needed to develop and track their growth goals.   After Christmas, once teachers and students returned to school, our guiding coalition held an event to set the momentum for the new year.  We addressed growth mindsets, student data notebooks, multiple intelligences, and social-emotional learning. This year our third through fifth-grade classes keep their data notebooks to track pre and post-assessment data, attendance, reading Lexile, and Istation growth.  We have learned that our PLC story is not just a one-time movie but a series with a lifetime of episodes and seasons filled with excellent work.  

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Monitoring Student Learning on a Timely Basis

Carnall began our PLC journey modestly by scheduling weekly team meetings.  Teachers had to start getting to know and trusting each other.   Dr. Tate remained the impetus and quickly breathed life into our school culture. Her first steps were the team approach of establishing our “why” through our mission and vision statements. As a staff, we worked side by side during this process because it was essential to Tate that we each had a voice as individuals and as a team. Therefore, we spent much time doing this work, collaborating on our collective commitments, and thinking through our nonnegotiables (tights). We spend an enormous amount of time in professional development around those topics.  

In year two, teachers worked in vertical and horizontal grade-level teams.   Each vertical and horizontal team set out to identify the essential learning for their grade level; we call these COLT Keys. The teams began unit planning, but not yet as a non-negotiable.

Additionally, each collaborative team developed team norms and started the work of unpacking standards. At the time, the only data available for kindergarten through second grade was Istation.  As a result, we worked hard to understand precisely how this program a) served our students and b) how to disaggregate the data it provided. Grades third through sixth could choose to use Istation but were required to use NWEA for assessment purposes in both the fall and spring semesters.  The  NWEA and Istation were our primary tools when trying to make any educational decision moving forward.  The data we acquired drove all instruction, including intervention processes. Although we still had quite a way to trek, it was a good starting point. Staff began to see the payoff, and our students started closing the gap(s). 

 Tier two and three interventions focused on specific student needs.  Our dyslexia interventionist and Title I specialist worked to push in and pull out students performing in  Tier 3 for specialized instruction in either decoding or comprehension. In our mentoring program, sixth-grade students partnered with kindergarteners to teach letters and sounds during interventions.  Our resource teacher also partnered with classroom teachers to serve students in Tier 3 interventions.  

At the end of year two, it was announced that Carnall was the only school out of all nineteen elementary schools in the Fort Smith Public School District to demonstrate growth in all sixteen subject areas on the EOY ACT Aspire.
Year three was upon us, and saying we were biting at the bit is an understatement.  Will Remmert kicked the year off with two days of professional development on a mission, vision statements, and collective commitments. 

 Once our entire team agreed that our mission, vision statements, and collective commitments represented who we were as a learning community, it was time to develop and implement, with fidelity, pre- and post-assessments or CFAs. Because we were seeking answers to the four guiding questions of a PLC, we knew this particular stage was beyond crucial. Collaborative teams worked through the grueling process of creating pre- and post-assessments based on their grade level Colt Keys/Essential Standards. Teams also began working with Dr. Donyall Dickey and InstructionalApproaches.  Dr. Dickey had three main areas of focus:

1) Building teacher efficacy through understanding and collaborating around the curriculum with an  

 emphasis on horizontal alignment

2) Performance-Based Objectives (PBOs) and the 36 academic terms found in state standards & student learning objectives, and academic vocabulary
3) The Gradual Release Model

In addition to our ongoing work with Dickey, our leadership team attended Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap by Dr. Anthony Mohammed. We were not so naive; we were aware of our current reality.  We were failing groups of students, and Dr. Mohammed and his work highlighted our current practices.  With the help of Dr. Mohammed, we completed a gap analysis and identified kiddos that were falling between the cracks. Armed with this invaluable information, we immediately began developing intervention plans to specifically meet students where they were. For Carnall, we learned that our African American boys were of our lowest performing groups, lower than our special education group, in literacy.  This information was alarming, so we immediately created book clubs with these specific students in mind.  We had found our groove.  However, during year three, the world shut down due to Covid-19. All students in the FSPS district went virtual, and we didn’t resume “normal” instruction back in brick-and-mortar schools for five months. 

When we returned,  we knew the importance of acting with urgency. Performance Based Objectives (PBOs) became a non-negotiable. With PBOs in place, essential standards, and some pre and post-assessments, teachers are moving in the right direction. We used Istation for K-2 and ACT Aspire Interim assessments for 3-6.  Teachers brought data to team meetings and implemented better vocabulary instruction. We still pushed forward, implementing the Inquiry Cycle and learning from Korey Collins how to create excitement and motivation around literacy classrooms.  Teachers were now implementing Tier 2 interventions with fidelity in their classrooms.  Small groups were prevalent in every classroom.  By the end of this year, Carnall ACT Aspire results revealed that our students had the most growth in the district.  


Monitor Student Learning

For the 2021-2022 academic school year, Carnall became an inclusive practice project.  To meet the needs of our student population, Dr. Tate implemented inclusive practices with 100% fidelity by partnering each general education teacher with a special education teacher.  Thus far, the PLC journey has led us to this very moment of implementation. We have learned that inclusion models can come in many different versions, variations, sizes, and colors. Each model is specific and individual to their own student needs and teacher strength.   For our story, we became co-teachers.  Every grade had a general and special education teacher that partnered with each other to teach grade-level essential standards.  Inclusion allowed us to specifically target our most critical students performing in Tier 3, special education. Now, all students meant all! Every child at Carnall received Tier 1 instruction and having two teachers plus a paraprofessional placed students in and out of small groups in all three levels, Tier 1, 2, and 3.    

As with any new implementation, we had to return to the drawing board numerous times.  Dr. Tate gave us the grace and space to work through the challenges as we celebrated our many successes.  In applying the principle “kid by kid, skill by skill,” we had to take a hard look at the data in January, which revealed that although inclusion was successful for most students, there were still some in desperate need of more support.  At that time, we made the adjustments necessary for the success of ALL students. 

Today, we are so much better than we were, growing and learning with each year.  The Carnall community is excelling because of the work and learning happening daily.  We have become a Professional Learning Community serving to meet the needs of all stakeholders.  Our mission and vision have become a reality, not just a dream! 


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

Our vision states that Carnall Colts are setting the PACE.  

P- Providing a safe environment for ALL to work and learn

A- Attending to the whole child (healthy, safe, challenged, supported, and engaged)

C- Communicating and collaborating with ALL stakeholders

E- Engaging ALL learners in a guaranteed viable curriculum at high levels

At Carnall, we have worked hard through professional development and collaboration to create a strong Tier 1.  We began by determining which state standards would become our essential, known at Carnall as Colt Keys.  Our facilitator led teachers to identify which standards were our boulders, rocks, and butterflies.  Our boulders, of course, became our Colt Keys.  Next, we unpacked those standards and began creating unit plans.  Our unit plan template first asked teachers to identify the essential, rock, and nice-to-know standards, or butterflies.  Each unit utilizes a fifteen-day inquiry cycle. To create a Tier 1 strong curriculum, we are using Dickey’s instructional approaches in concurrence with our instructional model.

Classroom teachers and teacher teams designed each unit plan. We created performance-based objectives based on the essential standards, and students mastered the academic vocabulary within each standard.  Teachers also implemented the gradual release model of “I do,” “we do,” “you do with a partner,” and you do independently to show mastery of those essential standards.   We believe that a child can better access instruction if they understand the what and the how.  Using our instructional model, teachers identified which supports, such as instructional strategies, discussion strategies, engagement strategies, inclusive practice, and learning stations, would best assist scholars in becoming masters of the Colt Key.  The work furnished teachers with a common language. In addition, we are constantly modeling, checking for understanding, providing small group time, and holding writing conferences during Tier 1 in reading, writing, and math for individual students.  

The unit plan includes a section for SMART goals.  The goal states that students will show mastery of the essential standard on the post-assessment within fifteen days.  At the school level, the guiding coalition team decided that 80% or above mastery on a post-assessment would dictate proficiency of the essential standard.  The classroom teacher administers the post-assessment and determines if students meet the mastery level.  When students are below that mark, they are given Tier 2 interventions and re-tested later. The grade-level teams then evaluate data from the post-assessments.  Upon completion, the classroom teacher makes changes as needed. 

Tier 2 intervention, based upon our essential standards, was now consistently being executed in classrooms by either the general education teacher, custodians, educational specialists, facilitators, interventionists, paraprofessionals, behavior specialists, the principal, or the special education teacher.  Based on data, our collaborative teams gather and determine which student needs an extension and which needs more practice or intervention to reach mastery of the essential standard.  

Monitoring and feedback are critical to the success of this instructional model; therefore, we use them to assess and plan our delivery of instruction.  Based on data, our collaborative teams gather and determine which student needs an extension and which needs more practice or intervention to reach mastery of the essential standard.  

Our Tier 3 intervention, for students over two years behind, was taught by highly skilled staff, such as our instructional facilitator, literacy specialists, special education teachers, and principal, for an intense session at least three times a week based on essential standards.  In addition, we offer Bright Minds Academy for our Tier 3 students Monday through Thursday from 3:30-4:15 pm.  Our HOPE Team will progress monitor students in Tier 3 

Job-embedded professional development has given our teachers the knowledge needed to enhance pedagogy.  Our staff has learned from Ron Clark Academy’s Kory Collins.  In addition,  Dr. Dickey partnered with Carnall to teach performance-based objectives and the gradual release.  Isaiah Pickens informed teachers on how to address trauma and respond to culture in our classrooms. We completed two book studies, Culturize and the Art and Science of Teaching, and became an inclusion school.  


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

Carnall operates in multiple teams.  Each team can have teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and community members.  For example, a district social worker is on our HOPE team.  The LEAP team has our school secretaries and parent-teacher association president as members.  Our behavior specialist and counselor are on the PBIS team. For this reason, we identify our teams as collaborative teams, not just teacher teams.  All team leaders post notes and agendas on Schoology, our learning management system.  They also send emails to inform the staff of upcoming events or changes.  Dr. Tate periodically meets with teams to ensure that we are making appropriate progress and not being overwhelmed.  

The Administrative Team was formed this year after attending a session with Dr. Regina Owens. Team members include the principal, assistant principal, and instructional facilitator. We meet every other week to discuss classroom observations, coaching based on observations, and future professional development to meet the needs of our teachers. In addition, we discuss the logistics and calendar for our school. We are also creating a plan for attaining High-Reliability Schools, Level 1, as part of a FSPS District initiative. Our biggest aha has this team frees up our guiding coalition to focus on data and accountability of the systems within our school created for student success.  

The Guiding Coalition team meets bi-weekly to coordinate the school’s resources for staff and students.  Each member of the guiding coalition represents a school group.  For example, our Title 1 Specialist represents art, music, physical education, dyslexia, and library specials.  We have one special education teacher that represents that group.   They take information and receive feedback from each section they represent.  The meeting notes are uploaded to Schoology, our learning management system, for all staff to view. 

The guiding coalition leads the way through Carnall’s mission and vision.  The discussion centered on assessment, strategies that enhance curriculum and student achievement, and Tier 1-3 strong interventions.  This team monitors the progress of our multi-tiered instruction by addressing student data achievement kid by kid and skill by skill.  Specifically, for Carnall this year, the Guiding Coalition has monitored and evaluated the progress of our Inclusion Practice Project teacher by teacher and student by student.  This team determined the areas of need and implemented a plan to meet those needs.  

Teacher teamsmeet once each week for an hour. These teams design learning experiences that enhance mastery of essential standards in the curriculum. Teachers first identify the essential standard, post the performance-based objective, create pre-and post-assessments, and design learning experiences and interventions/extensions. Next, they analyze student data from pre- and post-assessments and ongoing formative assessments. Teacher teams plan interventions based on student data.  

The Hope Team meets bi-weekly to discuss specific students struggling with behavior, attendance, or curriculum performance.  We refer to these as the ABCs of Working and Learning. Teachers can access a spreadsheet in which students can be placed on the list to discuss.   During each meeting, the Hope Team analyzes the progress of specific students to determine if interventions are working or need to be revised.  If the interventions are successful, students are either removed from the list or a watch tag is placed by their name. 

Carnall has a Positive Behavior Support Intervention (PBIS) Team.  This team aims to identify school trends in behavior using the LiveSchool application, office referral data, and data from our behavior specialist.  Together, they discuss individual students and design behavioral interventions.  They also design positive behavior experiences for students to participate in at Carnall.  For example, they initiated the House Team Challenge; all faculty and students are in four teams. These teams promote positive behavior and friendly competition while they meet bi-weekly to reflect upon student challenges and successes. 

Carnall has implemented other teams that add to our culture and increase student learning.  We just initiated an attendance task force to address our varied attendance challenges. We have a special projects team that creates learning experiences outside the classroom on a school and community level.  Our parental engagement team, LEAP, Let’s Engage All Parents, designs monthly events for parents that focus on our ABCs of working and learning. These teams include community members, staff, students, and parents.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Carnall has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. Despite the challenges of a growing special education population and students with extreme behavioral needs, our scores on Istation increased yearly since 2018, and ACT Aspire increased from 2018-2021.  It has been a long, hard road, but the knowledge that students and teachers are working, learning, and growing together is the most rewarding.  

I have uploaded an example of our 3rd-grade inclusion team's literacy and math units designed by the general and special education third-grade teacher team.  All results are entered onto the third-grade data wall. You can view this team’s work under the teacher data walls folder.  Each table has tabs at the bottom to view formative assessments, summative assessments, screeners, and other pertinent information.  Teachers have been working on recording data with fidelity; however, we are still a work in progress in this area. Last year, the kindergarten won in keeping the most updated data on the virtual data wall. If you look at the Kinder Unit Plan folder, you will see their work and how it matches their data wall.  Kindergarten unit plans have pre-and post-assessments attached. Overall, in 2021-2022, Istation data reveals a considerable decrease in students in levels one and two.  I attached the chart to our resources.  

Istation data revealed that in March of 2022, Carnall showed growth in math and literacy compared to August.  Even as we implemented full inclusion, we ended the year with some growth. Unfortunately, our ACT Aspire scores from Spring 2022 did not show the same growth. Our ACT data has some missing areas for 2020 due to being a COVID year, and students were not tested in our district.   



  • 2017 School of Education Outstanding Alumni Middle-Level Education Award

  • 2018 AASCD Curriculum Leadership Award

  • 2018 - Only school within  FSPS that grew 3%-5% in all 16 areas of the ACT Aspire. 

  • 2021 - Carnall Average Growth for the State on ACT Aspire 86.92% 

  • 2022 Inclusion Practice Project - 1st K-5 school in Arkansas 

  • 2022 Ed Week National Panel 


The following link is to our Model PLC Google Folder with all of our artifacts, documentation, resources, pictures, evidence, and teacher data walls as well as a few videos of our teachers explaining their personal journey through this PLC process to becoming a model school.  There are six main folders, each with sub-folders. Please, if possible, use this link to view all our resources for Step 8 of this application as well.  There is a folder labeled Achievement Data with  additonal resources. 



  • 2017 School of Education Outstanding Alumni Middle Level Education Award

  • 2018 AASCD Curriculum Leadership Award

  • 2018 - Only school within  FSPS that grew 3%-5% in all 16 areas of the ACT Aspire. 

  • 2021 - Carnall Average Growth for the State on ACT Aspire 86.92% 

  • 2022 Inclusion Practice Project - 1st K-5 school in Arkansas 

  • 2022 Ed Week National Panel