Powdersville Elementary School

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

Powdersville Elementary School is an elementary school in Anderson School District One located in upstate South Carolina. Serving students in grades three through five, Powdersville Elementary has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School (2010), received multiple Palmetto Gold awards for student achievement, and received the state’s second highest report card rating in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. This rating was achieved, in large part, due to student performance on the state’s standardized test, SC-READY, including the achievement of the bottom 20% of the student population based on percentile rank as compared with grade level peers from across the state of South Carolina. This subgroup is typically comprised of students served through special education services or those students whose academic profiles suggest more significant barriers to learning. However, the leadership team of Brad Moore and Melissa Tollison felt compelled to research effective practices in education to ensure educational equity and improved academic achievement for all students. In August of 2018, terminology closely associated with professional learning communities was first introduced to the faculty at staff. The four questions of a Professional Learning Community were discussed in great detail and became common terminology used among all teachers and staff. Community Collective commitments helped define the “tight” and “loose” elements within the collaborative culture of the school. Throughout the process, a common thread was identified among the stakeholders - the belief that all students can learn at high levels. This resulted in a change in our mission to reflect that we are a school that develops learners and empowers leaders. We value a culture of collaboration from our administration, teachers, and students. We envision a school where students take ownership of their learning and teachers to ensure that all students experience success. In October 2018, the leadership team from Powdersville Elementary School joined one of our teacher leaders and attended a Professional Learning Community (PLC) Institute event in Atlanta, Georgia. This learning opportunity spearheaded the transformation of the collaborative teaching experience at Powdersville Elementary School. Several barriers existed that certainly created needed change in our building. Firstly, school leadership originally required teachers to meet after school to engage in this type of collaboration. Additionally, grade level teams met consistently but quickly lost focus and failed to engage in the recurring cycles of collective inquiry that impacted all students. We also asked them to address all the questions when they met. Later we realized this was something that needed to be more systematic and intentional. When we started the breakdown of question one and then question two with learning targets and success criteria, it gave purpose to each collaborative team time. Teachers used their time better and it opened up clear discussions about data. This assisted our teams in identifying the need for a more specific data protocol and systematic approach to data tracking. 

“Thriving Thursday” was implemented in 2019-2020; paving the way for each grade level collaborative team to enjoy unencumbered time to meet together and address the four essential questions of a highly effective collaborative team during teacher contracted time. Due to the impact of large teams on this work, collaborative teams at Powdersville Elementary School developed specific norms for behavior expectations. These norms were read aloud at the beginning and end of each collaborative meeting to determine if said norms were being followed with fidelity. Additionally, roles were developed to ensure that each collaborative team operated in an efficient and effective manner. Anderson School District One teacher leaders and administration worked with Solution Tree consultant Luis Cruz on two occasions to deepen the understanding of the key components of highly effective collaborative teams. The focus for Powdersville Elementary then quickly shifted to more of a deeper understanding of developing a guaranteed and viable curriculum by establishing essentials, unit plans, and common formative assessments. The administrative team monitored this closely and further researched essentials, learning targets, and success criteria. Through that, we realized that our teams needed further support in defining mastery of an essential by collectively establishing the learning targets and success criteria for each essential. Collectively the school was then able to have a better understanding of the essential standards which led to further work on common formative assessments. As we continued to grow in their ability to establish ways of assessing student learning, the focus shifted more toward data tracking and guaranteeing that all students were learning at high levels. In order to do so, our guiding coalition helped us create a data protocol, which has led to more intentional action plans based on data. These actions plan focus on students who both need further intervention and students who need enrichment. Presently, our teachers share students based on data and have been able to track progress toward achieving our school SMART goals through this collective responsibility. As new staff members join each year, we have realized that it is important for each team to revisit their roles, norms, and set SMART goals to focus their efforts. As a PLC, we use the first collaborative team time to set the foundation of this work so that meetings moving forward have a collective commitment from all members. Currently, Powdersville ranks inside the top 10 public elementary schools in South Carolina according to US News & World Report criteria that include student achievement. 

Powdersville Elementary School facilitates a culture of continuous improvement by ensuring that our collaborative teams have consistent meetings, training, and support. Our administrative team is passionate about ensuring that our staff has an opportunity to reflect on where we are as a professional learning community at the beginning and end of the year. We do this through the Professional Learning Community at Work Continuum. This helps the administrative team properly assess our strength and growth areas as a staff, which further helps gauge where further professional development and resources need to be allocated. In using this continuum twice a year, we have seen growth in our staff as we have moved from the initiating, implementing, and developing stage to the sustaining stage in many areas. 

On the school’s monthly calendar, we have dedicated Mondays as an afternoon to touch base with different groups to ensure that communication is clear and that teachers and staff have an opportunity to provide input and reflect on how progress is going at our school. The administrative team meets monthly with our facilitators, guiding coalition, complete staff, and intervention team. During this time, we have agendas and norms to ensure the time is used efficiently and effectively. In addition to these monthly meetings and based on our continuum results, we have received further professional development as a staff by attending sessions led by Luis Cruz on multiple occasions and plan to attend sessions by Cassandra Erkens in the fall. We have also had the opportunity to send multiple staff members, including the administrative team, our MTSS coach, reading coach, and teacher leaders to the Solution Tree PLC conferences in both Charlotte and Atlanta where they were able to gain further knowledge through multiple breakout sessions and keynote speakers. 

As an administrative team, Powdersville has been able to continue to provide staff development yearly to teachers based on different training we have received at our monthly district administrative meetings. The administrative team and guiding coalition also work to ensure our new staff members are able to become acquainted with how we facilitate collaborative team times and our collective commitments in regard to professional learning communities and student learning. Because of this, our first-year teachers, and even student teachers, are able to be active members in discussion and contribute to their collaborative team times. They help us revisit essential standards and develop norms to ensure they are immersed in our culture and take ownership of this process. Since we also have many returning staff who need to additionally grow in their knowledge of the work of a PLC, we have put in place some book studies with different groups, such as our intervention team who just completed the book study with 10 Success Factors for Literacy Intervention: Getting Results with MTSS in Elementary Schools. Our administrative teams across the district have additionally worked through many books such as Learning by Doing by Richard DuFor and Revisiting PLCs at Work by Richard DuFor, Rebecca DuFor, Robert Eaker, Mike Mattos, and Anthondy Muhammad. 

 

 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Upon returning from the Solution Tree conference in Atlanta, we met with teams on multiple days by utilizing professional development days and substitutes to walk teams through the criteria for how to establish essential standards. This focused on question one, “What do we want students to learn?” We used the acronym LESS, which stood for Leverage, Endurance, Success at the Next Level, and State Assessment. Our teams spent the majority of the time discussing each standard in both reading and math to ensure a common consensus was reached on what standards were essential. There was a spreadsheet created that allowed all grade levels to track what was essential for each team. This was turned into a document that made it easily accessible for the collaborative teams. This is a fluid document as our collaborative teams revisit their essentials yearly to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the instructional program.

Upon establishing essentials, learning targets, and success criteria, our administrative team and coaches help our teams establish unit plans that reflect the pacing of learning targets which then allows intentional planning and placement of common formative assessments. This helped move our teams to a discussion about question two, “How will we know if the students have learned it?” Because CFAs, or common formative assessments, are created by learning targets, the teams are able to have specific data discussions that reflect the student's mastery of essential standards. This leads to questions three and four, “How will we respond if students don’t get it?” and “How will we respond to those students that do?”  They then created action plans that lead to targeted interventions and enrichment. Collaborative teams are flexible in their thinking about which students will receive intervention or enrichment. They have discussions about which teachers, based on data, would best serve students in both intervention and enrichment. This is based largely on the collective belief that ALL students can learn at high levels and we are ALL responsible for the learning of students at our school. 

In order to ensure student learning is monitored on a timely basis, teachers meet in collaborative teams on a weekly basis. Currently this collaborative team time is built into the schedule. We have additionally added in times for interventions and extensions to take place. Previously the school only had a segment called “PRIDE time” which served as an intervention block in the mornings. As our school moves forward, we want to more specifically dedicate Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 into the schedule for each teacher so that they are better able to plan when to reteach and extend the learning for students. Previously teachers were provided 90 minutes for reaching instruction and this was to include Tier 1 instruction. Now, Powdersville Elementary School has divided the 90-minute reading block into 75 minutes of Tier 1 instruction which focuses on core instruction, and 15 minutes dedicated to Tier 2 interventions and extensions. Tier 2 time is focused on providing reteaching of essential standards for students who have not demonstrated mastery based on the common formative assessment data. Students who have demonstrated mastery of the essential standards are provided extensions to deepen their understanding of the core curriculum, addressing some of the "nice to know" standards that support the core curriculum. Tier 3 instruction is scheduled at the beginning of the school day for all students to allow for teachers to co-teach, share students, or push-in for intensive intervention and extension as needed based on common formative assessment data and diagnostic assessments. Powdersville Elementary made a similar adjustment with our math block providing an intentional block of 15 minutes for Tier 2 instruction on essential standards and still providing Tier 1 instruction to all students. As our teams continue to grow in the area of monitoring student learning, many adjustments and modifications continue to be made to ensure that teachers are able to intervene before further Tier 1 instruction is provided. 

Initially, as our collaborative teams met to discuss data from CFAs, they focused primarily on the number of students that did not show mastery. While this did provide the opportunity for teachers to share strategies, we found that the majority of the discussions did not focus heavily on the data, and instead were centered more on any teacher sharing out strategies that they used. Our teachers noticed that student names rather than numbers may help center the discussion more toward student mastery. This did in some ways make the data more meaningful and helped teachers see trends with students who consistently were not mastering material. What we still found, however, was that the discussion continued to not be structured and intentionally based on data. We also noticed that our teachers lacked an actionable plan to take away from the discussion to implement with students who did or did not show mastery. 

Through discussion with our guiding coalition, we were able to establish a data protocol for our school. School administration pulled multiple examples from the Solution Tree website and had our guiding coalition and collaborative tram facilitators provide feedback and additions that would help make our data protocol effective and meaningful for our teams. Our protocol provides time in the beginning with no discussion for teachers to look solely at the data and write down what they notice and wonder about. From there teams focus on which students are proficient since that question was normally looked over prior to establishing a protocol. After this, the teams look at what students were not proficient in and the specific areas that they struggled in. From there they look at which teammates proved to be strong in that area based on the data and are able to create an action plan moving forward. During this process, a lot of discussion and clarifying questions are asked amongst the team. A piece we added with our guiding coalition was for the team to then take time to plan the next CFA where this essential would be reassessed again to ensure ALL students are mastering it.

As our teams began using this protocol, we saw a drastic improvement in the types of conversations that were being had based on data. One issue that was discovered by the guiding coalition was the need for a “Follow Up” data protocol when an essential standard was reassessed. In this protocol, we added questions such as “What students are now proficient that were not before?” and “What interventions worked for these students?” By doing so, teachers were able to celebrate the hard work that was put in place and reflect on interventions that were proving to move students toward mastery. 

 
Collaborative teams create SMART Goals and track students' progress with mastery of the essential standards based on the common formative assessment data. 

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

Through studying the PLC process, the school learned that intervention time needed to be scheduled within the school day. The first step in implementing this was to create the school intervention time called PRIDE (Our mascot is a lion thus we are the PRIDE.) time. In the 2019-20 school year, PRIDE time was built within the school day from 8:10-8:40 where teachers would provide interventions to students that needed support in mastering or extending learning of the essential standards. The teachers at Powdersville Elementary School continue to plan for rich, meaningful extensions for students who have already mastered essential standards. As teachers use the data protocol developed by the guiding coalition, they address question four which focuses on extending learning before moving into developing interventions for students who have not mastered essentials. Doing so enables teachers to intentionally and systematically consider the instructional needs of those students who need enrichment. Teachers utilize non-essential standards that connect to essentials in order to strengthen and deepen students’ understanding of core essentials determined by the team. Teachers at Powdersville collaborate with teams of teachers to provide enrichment and intervention instruction by creating action plans to share students with based on the data.

In 2020-2021, the administration and the reading coach began implementing a reading intervention program called RISE (Reading Intervention for Students to Excel), which assisted in serving more students in reading intervention. After seeing the academic success using the RISE program, the reading interventionist now uses the same program with the one teacher model. Our school soon found out that thirty minutes was not enough time to provide tier 2 and 3 interventions for reading and math. In the 2021-22 school year, PRIDE time was increased to fifty minutes per day to allow teachers to intervene on both reading and math essential standards. In addition to our one reading interventionist, a math interventionist was also added to our staff.  Our reading interventionist, support staff consisting of Administration, and the Reading Coach conducted groups of students during this time using our RISE program with the multiple instructor model. Math intervention groups were also pulled during this time by our math interventionist. During the 21-22 school year an intervention team was established to assist in implementing MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support). The intervention team met monthly and consisted of the MTSS coordinator, reading coach, math interventionist, multi-language specialist, guidance counselor, speech pathologist, special education teachers, and administrators. At the first intervention team meeting, norms and roles were established. In the past when a student was referred to the RTI team, then the student was immediately screened for special services.

The intervention team provided criteria and professional development that helped teachers focus on strengthening Tier 1 instruction provided to all students to ensure high levels of learning. The role of the intervention team is to provide interventions for the teacher to implement with the students who are recommended and to assist the teacher with a progress monitoring sheet to be used for documentation. 

A schedule was developed for the 22-23 school year that has a built specific time for Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 instruction so that teachers can provide interventions and extensions during the school day when all students can have access. Teachers utilize data from common formative assessments to determine the need for Tier 2 interventions to reteach in order to ensure that all students are learning and mastering standards deemed essential by the collaborative teams. An area of growth for Powdersville Elementary will be implementing academically driven extension activities for the students that have mastered the essential standards. 

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

Our high-performing, collaborative teams focus their efforts to improve student learning by ensuring that there are essential standards identified by their endurance, leverage, success at the next level, and success on standardized tests for our state. After our teams discuss and decide upon their essential standards, they spend the time to identify which units these essentials will be taught throughout the year. As a unit is approaching, the team discusses the essential standards and identifies learning targets and success criteria for students to show mastery of that standard. After establishing the learning targets, a unit plan is made to ensure that the team agrees upon the pacing of the learning target and can appropriately plan on a time when a common formative assessment would be needed to gauge the retention and mastery of the essential standard. The team then looks over where the common formative assessments would fit best based on instruction and use their collaborative time to create their CFAs. As the unit begins and the CFAs are given, the team then uses their collaborative time to delve into which students are showing mastery and which students are not. All of our teams use a data protocol that was generated from varying data protocols provided by Solution Tree and adapted to fit the needs at Powdersville Elementary. The guiding coalition had input on the protocol before the facilitators brought it to their collaborative teams. 

During the collaborative team discussion, they collectively take time to look over the data collected and gather their thoughts on what they notice and are wondering about how the CFA went. Teams then discuss what students seemed to show mastery of the standard and what those students did in their work to show mastery. This creates discussion about how the learning will be extended for those learners in the future. The team looks at which students are still needing intervention on this essential. In order to find appropriate interventions to try, the team identifies which colleagues had data that suggested their teaching strategies worked well in the classroom. Those colleagues then share strategies that worked well with their students based on the data. After discussion and questions, the team takes the time to plan the next CFA which will follow up on the mastery of the essential. They also take five minutes to plan out when they will intervene and extend the learning of the students. Sometimes this looks like interventions in their classrooms and sometimes this looks like a discussion of which teammates needs to take which students to provide intervention or extension. As we revisit the essentials of future CFAs, our collaborative teams begin tracking the proficiency of the standard for individual students and as a collaborative team. The guiding coalition created a “follow-up” data protocol that has very similar questions to the first data protocol, but also includes a section where the collaborative teams recognize which students are now proficient that were not before and the specific interventions seemed to help those students.

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Due to the implementation of intentional practices that are embedded in our collaborative team time, our student achievement has been positively impacted per the data provided. Powdersville Elementary continues to perform above the district and state norms even in light of COVID and other barriers that have emerged over the past couple of years. We believe that the focus on our collective commitments has created and adapted our culture in which all of our efforts center around students learning at high levels. 

The two assessments provided in our data document are SC-Ready, our state-wide assessment in ELA and Math as required by the Education Accountability Act, and MAP, Measures of Academic Progress, given three times a year within our district as a district formative benchmark to track student progress and inform instructional decisions. Due to the pandemic in 2019-2020, we were limited in the data we are able to provide for that year. As shown in our data for the other years, our subgroups were able to perform above state and district norms in comparison. This growth and achievement have been in spite of rising behavioral challenges, social-emotional barriers, and the acclimation of new personnel. 

2018-2019 Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards

2018-2019 - South Carolina Report Card Ranking - #2 Elementary School in the State of South Carolina

June 2021- Powdersville Elementary Administrative Team presented at SCASA, South Carolina Association of School Administration on "Establishing and Supporting Collaborative Teams who Thrive" 

March 2022- Powdersville Elementary/Anderson One presented at the SCASA Seminar Series, on "Establishing and Supporting Collaborative Teams who Thrive" for administrators across the state

2021-2022 US News Ranking - "Best South Carolina Schools" - Ranked Top 10 in Public Elementary Schools

2022 Team Nutrition School

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