J.R. Smith Elementary (2023)

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

Our PLC Story

J.R. Smith Elementary school’s PLC story is one we are very proud of.  We started this process more than 10 years ago.  During that time, we had a lot of growth and changes to our practices that were beneficial, but we also had years of falling into a more “PLC lite” scenario.  From 2015-2019 we made some changes to our instructional plans such as creating a schedule and establishing common uninterrupted Tier 1 time.  We had teachers attend yearly PLC conferences, continued to refine our schedule by using agendas to help us answer the 4 PLC questions, but we weren’t seeing the gains we wanted.  In 2019 we set a goal to become a model PLC school and hired a Solution Tree presenter, Brian Butler, to come to our school for a 2-day summit.  During this time our teachers dove into the book ‘Taking Action’ and our Guiding Coalition was born.

Laying the Foundation

After we established the Guiding Coalition, we knew the first thing we had to do was revisit our mission and vision.  All faculty members met, analyzed, and discussed what we wanted our mission and vision to be.  Each faculty member had a voice and we learned together what a mission is and isn’t.  We started with the mission statement we had in place and changed a few words. The mission of our school became: We commit to instill within ALL students the desire and power to create their own life-long path to excel”.

This process led us to looking back at our unit plans and having conversations about high levels of learning and what that would look like for students to have the power to create a path of excellence. We changed our goal setting process and started to focus on student learning rather than hitting a score at the end of the year.  We started targeting our practices that were aligned to essential standards.  We started analyzing data and establishing what high levels of rigor looks like across each grade level and standard.  We began holding data dives 3 times a year to check on CFA’s and how the depth of knowledge and rigor compared to standardized assessments.  Teachers worked hard within their grade level and vertically to determine what knowledge is needed at each respective level.  At the end of 2019 we saw growth across the school and began to see the dial move in terms of student success. 

Creating a PLC culture

From 2020-2022 we continued to take this PLC journey one step at a time. All our teams became more data driven and established unit plans more focused on student learning centered around a guaranteed viable curriculum.  With essential standards and learning targets established and aligned to higher levels of learning, our teams began to focus on revamping their CFA’s (Common Formative Assessment). Our grade level teams and support faculty members became more data driven with most of the time focused on questions 1 and 2 of the PLC framework.  Our professional development (PD) days became more purposeful by asking the question ‘how will this change our practice as professionals’? Teachers came away from our PD days throughout the year with a plan that would benefit student learning.  We planned our PD days and Guiding Coalition meetings from the book Taking Action and went through chapter by chapter to ensure all teachers knew the what, why and how of what we were learning.  All grade levels began to see growth which helped keep the teachers engaged in the PLC work. When we started to see results in 2021, we set two clear schoolwide SMART goals. The first is that 80% of students with no known risk factors would achieve at grade-level, or above,  on standardized summative assessments. The second goal is that ALL students who were on grade level at the end of the previous year will remain at grade level or above.

Continuing the Right Work

We continue to use Taking Action as a guide to finalize the ins and outs of our SIT team (Student Intervention Team). We've continued to work through the RTI at work pyramid and now have all of the steps in a working order. CFA’s have been created and unit plans are aligned to standards with higher levels of rigor. Our teams are continually revisiting and refining unit plans and CFA's.  We consistently use the team teaching assessment cycle to analyze our CFA data to guide instruction in all tiers. Through our collective commitments we are able to address all 4 questions to drive our reteaching, enrichment and interventions to ensure high levels of learning for all students. Through this process we have demonstrated growth since 2019.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Each grade level team has built unit plans around essential standards. Standards are assessed anywhere from 10-15 school days. Within each unit plan learning targets/objectives are established. Students know what their learning target is and if they have met their target or not at the end of the unit. Ongoing checks for understanding happen throughout the unit plans to enable the teacher to give frequent, meaningful, and differentiated feedback to students.

Our teams meet weekly to analyze CFA (common formative assessment) data focusing on identified essential standards. Based on the CFA data, teachers discuss the four questions to drive our team teaching cycles. Teams identify what strategies were most effective, what areas students struggled in, and what areas students know. Teams discuss strategies for reteaching, enriching, and intervening.


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

One of the first things we did as a school was establish common Tier 2 and Tier 3 times for each grade level. With the whole school on the same intervention schedule, we are able to take our non-classroom teacher resources and use them to support each grade level during their intervention time. After every unit plan, groups are created based on skill level and academic needs. Classroom teachers, as well as support staff, are given the standard their group needs to work on or enrich and extend. After each learning cycle, teachers and support staff give an additional check for understanding and anaylze the results to determine the next steps in student learning.

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

Initiatives we've taken to build high-performing collaborative teams include creating a guiding coalition, built-in collaboration time, and book studies. The coalition guides the resources of time, treasure, and talents available within the school. Our school has an early release day once a week to allow teachers to collaborate during contract time. This is in addition to common prep time four days a week. During this time we emphasize high levels of learning for all. We have engaged in school-wide book studies with Taking Action and Learning by Doing.

We emphasize high levels of learning for ALL including teachers! We have worked and learned together and through this process, our school has seen the benefits of putting this knowledge into practice. Using evidences of student learning to evaluate, revise, and celebrate our collective efforts, has created a learning culture in our school. Through these efforts as educators, our student learning has improved. Shifting our focus from teacher teaching to student learning unites and focuses our collaborative efforts across the school.



Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

RISE Assessment (State assessment)

Math - Beginning of year to Middle of current year

3rd grade: 60% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

4th grade: 37% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

5th grade: 33% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

 ELA - Beginning of year to Middle of current year

 3rd grade: 52% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

4th grade: 24% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

5th grade: 34% of the students increased at least 1 proficiency level

Acadience Reading Proficiency (State assessment - School-wide)

School-wide Increase of 12% proficiency from 2016 to present school year. 

Pathways of Progress - within Acadience Reading assessment 

Increase of 17% of students improving in their Pathways since 2017 on the Acadience reading assessment.

Acadience Math Proficiency (State assessment - K-3)

On average, 20% of our students increased their proficiency from beginning of year to middle of year 2022/23.

APPL Assessment (Spanish language proficiency)

Grades 3-5 performed at or well above state and district level of proficiency.






3 time State Award for high performing Title 1 School

Recognition for highest achievement of second language proficiency within our district