Deer Creek 4th and 5th Grade Center (2023)

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

Deer Creek 4th and 5th Grade Center opened at quite a unique time in 2020. At the heart of the pandemic, our school opening as a brand-new building in a district that is growing exponentially each year, we had several challenges before us and several things that were not within our control. What was within our control was how we laid a foundation for what our goals were moving forward. In a time when our teachers could have sat back and done the minimum, they chose to show up and focus on the PLC process, focusing on our instructional cycle and the 4 essential questions. We put our heads down and worked hard!

We established our DC45 mission of having a safe, supportive, and collaborative culture through our vision of cultivating effective relationships schoolwide and throughout the community, establishing and maintaining collective ownership focused on ALL students’ growth and success, and sustaining an unwavering belief in the ability of ALL students.

Through this vision and mission, we started year one laying the foundation for professional learning communities because that is something we had control over! Bringing together 5 elementary schools and one intermediate school presented itself to be very tricky! We assessed where we had been, established short- and long-term goals, and collaborated by grade level teams and content teams on how we were going to get there. We established norms, reflected on our priority standards and curriculum maps, created a safe and collaborative culture, a guaranteed and viable curriculum, built relationships with one another, and took our goals in chunks, just like we do with our students! We began to slowly chip away at the adjustments that we needed to make based off of what the data was telling us.

Year two, we really got to work on updating our curriculum maps, focusing on priority standards, establishing routines for data collection and response to intervention; because finally we had all of our students in school in order to intervene and enrich! We spent our professional development days making adjustments, sifting through data, having critical conversations about assessments and levels of questioning, discussed standards-based grading practices to ensure we were implementing with fidelity. Our teachers came together during our Content Days in the spring to continue the work after we had spent the year reflecting on the changes that we, collectively as a new staff, wanted to make together. We began re-writing assessments, moving priority standards, and aligning both vertically and cross curricular to ensure that students were going to get the same support across the board, circling back to our mission of collective ownership.

Year two we also laid a foundation for what we call Expeditions. Expeditions refers to our time for Response to Intervention. As a national park themed school, it seemed only fitting that on Wednesdays every student has the opportunity to go on an Expedition to get what they need!

Year three, we have this down! Our teachers input their data into what we call “the master spreadsheet” where everyone has access to everyone’s data for their pieces of evidence and data points. From there, our Expedition groups are established. We provide no new instruction on Wednesdays because everybody needs an opportunity to be re-taught, receive an intervention, or be provided an opportunity for enrichment; to move beyond mastery of the standard. Our students use their data trackers to track their own progress every Wednesday morning before they transition for the day.

We’ve accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time. We will continue to grow over time, attending PLC conference and RtI at Work, revisiting and revising our norms as we gain new colleagues, and continuing to focus on what the data is telling us. We can always improve our practice! In some ways, I’m thankful that our first year all we could do was lay a foundation, establish our norms, ensure we were working through the PLC process and our instructional cycle with fidelity and holding one another accountable, we focused on what we could control and eliminated all the extra. It has laid the groundwork for some really fabulous things in our building, most significantly the growth of our students.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Having been certified as a High Reliability School Levels 1, 2, and 3 in the 2020 and 2021 school years, we continue to focus on having a guaranteed and vialbe curriculum in each content area. Our curriculum maps, pacing guides, and common assessments adhere to our state standards. Over time we have reflected on what is working, how priority standards can be updated, how we are looking at and grading our assessments, and responding to questions 3 and 4. We have adjusted our master schedule to ensure that teachers have an adequate amount of time to appropriately address the priority standards in their classroom ensuring that our Tier I instruction is strong. Each year we have utilized our professional development time/days to reflect on what has worked/needs adjustment. We use that information from our reflection sheets to guide our conversation on our content days in the spring, in preparation for the next school year. We update resources, update our assessments based on data, adjust our pacing, and set goals from the previous years data. We do this vertically, as well, to align with the grades below and the grades above. 

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

We have added in a "no new instruction day" on Wednesdays, to ensure our Tier II interventions are able to be done strategically, while also providing time for our students who have demonstrated mastery on the standard have an opportunity for enrichment. We monitor this progress through our "Master Data Spreadsheet" where every teacher has access to all students iStation scores, common assessment data, and progress monitoring. We can monitor growth as a grade level and as individual teachers. This allows us to have rich discussion about teaching strategies that are working and how we can reflect and improve our practice, providing opportunities for professional development if needed. We reflect on our data every Wednesday morning during our content PLC/data meetings. Our students also spend the first 30 minutes of the school day on Wednesday's tracking their own progress in their individual data trackers. We have also reflected on previous years data to establish goals in regard to overall student achievement for our site, specifically. As mentioned, data is regularly analyzed, interpreted, and used to monitor our students growth from pre-assessments to mid and post assessments. Students know what their priority standards are and during Expeditions students know what is needed in order to obtain mastery at the next level. 

During Expeditions, grade level teams work together to provide opportunities for intervention and enrichment. For example, a 5th grade team of 5 will all do Reading Expeditions first, each member of the team will take a group; the science teacher may take the Level 4's and provide enrichment, while the reading and writing teacher's are taking the level 1's and 2's to provide targeted interventions for students needing additional support. This is happening in each grade level team school-wide and is referred to as Expeditions - since our school is national park themed! Every child has an Expedition to go on!

Additionally, our reading and math student support teachers provide Tier III interventions weekly to students who lack foundational knowledge and have a learning gap. These times do not interfere with the Tier I and Tier II supports that students are provided, as students still need to be exposed to the grade level standards.

Our gifted students are also provided time to be enriched with our Gifted Gathering! Students meet to collaborate every other week on a regular schedule. 

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

Our leadership team worked this summer, after attending the PLC Institute as a group, on re-establishing our focus on the PLC at Work process. We worked together for several days to talk about our strengths and areas of growth and what things we could be "tight" and "loose" on. We streamlined our data conversations during our Wednesday late start discussions and collaboration. 

Each content in both grade levels is represented on our leadership team. We trained each team member so that they could take back to their content teams the goals and focus of our PLC process. Each group worked to establish norms, agendas, and roles; updating them from the previous years. Content team discussions are guided by what the data is telling us, focusing on the instructional cycle and how we will respond. Through this process and collecting data through our walk throughs we have established the areas that we need additional professional development and guidance through our Tuesday PD sessions. 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Throughout the past 3 years, teachers have been using content reflection sheets and our master spreadsheet of all spreadsheets to assess and create goals based off of student common assessment data as our state has done thrown several challenges our way with regard to state testing and state test data. You can refer to our overall student assessment data for essential standards for math, reading, and science attached. This is a direct reflection of our master data spreadsheets that house every data point with regard to our common assessment data for pre, mid, and post assessments; by student by standard. You can see the reflection of each grade level content team’s goals in each content team's curriculum map reflection sheet. There was a purpose in the way this form was structured in order for teachers to really look at essential standards by quarter, identifying successes and areas of growth by common assessment data. For example, 4th grade ELA reflected on their curriculum map, essential standards, and student achievement data here from the data here

Teachers met regularly throughout the year, utilizing their content reflection sheets to make updates and take notes with regard to adjustments that needed to be made for future curriculum maps. Teachers then met during their grade level content day  at the end of the year to reflect on their common assessment data (master data spreadsheets) overall percentages showing growth and then answered the content reflection questions again to assess and make changes and adjustments based on this student achievement data. Teachers analyzed where they were successful, where they needed to spend more time, changes to pacing and where standards are taught throughout the year to benefit student learning, eliminated essential standards that could be seen as a “limb” standard as opposed to a “heart” standard; again, all based on student data from their common assessment data. Through this process they were also able to make adjustments to their common assessments, making note of bad questions, zero students achieving a level 4, etc. Each content did this process at minimum 4 times (once each quarter) throughout the year with the last quarter being an entire day of reflection and work based off of the year's data. To start, teachers took the previous years content reflections sheets and had a starting point of the previous years achievement data based on student common assessment data as they had the previous year’s master data spreadsheet in front of them with the previous curriculum map, previous assessments, and previous state test scores. 

For the 2022-2023 school year, the DC45 ELA department had several challenges to overcome. Our teachers had previously spent numerous hours working to formulate a developmentally appropriate curriculum map with common assessments and a timeline distributing the teaching of standards at an appropriate speed based on previous years state test scores and common assessment data. This year, the state and our district adopted a new reading curriculum which in turn required our school to adapt and restructure our curriculum map and guideline to fit the implementation of new resources and assessments according to the state. We used these new resources as a guide to keep the validity of vertical alignment throughout the district while still maintaining the work that our teachers had done with regard to the previous year’s content reflection, goals, curriculum map, essential standards, and assessments. Through the many challenges that our teachers faced with these new state requirements, they were able to remain focused on what the data was telling us and overcome a challenging situation.

Our teachers monitor weekly their students common assessment data (pre, mid, and post assessments as seen by our master data spreadsheets). They do so every Wednesday morning during our late start’s, identifying the areas of growth as well as celebrations. They utilize this data to drive their intervention groups during Expeditions. The way our spreadsheets are set up, you can see the growth from the pre-assessment, to the mid-assessment, and finally on the post assessment with the number of students scoring at a level 1 decreasing because they are obtaining mastery, the number of levels 3’s increasing as more students obtain mastery as they progress through the learning target and essential standard lessons. This also includes students who may receive interventions during Expeditions (built in RtI time) that are given the opportunity to reassess to obtain mastery of the essential standard. 

This feedback was also beneficial to us as we reviewed and updated our assessment data. We could look at questions that students were not mastering, or assessments that very few students achieved a level 3 or 4, or where assessment data went down. We were able to assess, reflect, and then provide students an opportunity to reassess in order to show growth. It helped us in identifying bad assessments and adjusting based on the student's needs! While the summary of growth is attached here under achievement data, you can see on the mastery sheet under each essential standard that we have identified our special education population, English language learners, gifted and talented, and economically disadvantaged students so that we can sort and monitor their progress on a weekly basis with regard to common assessment data. I am happy to celebrate that our English language learners had one of the highest increases in achievement compared in our district! This is something to celebrate as this was an area of focus for us and one of our school wide goals. 

Specifically with regard to our ELA scores, while there was a few point percentage drop with regard to our state assessment scores, this was the first year that our state had adopted new standards in ELA and the state changed the requirements just before school started with regard to how they were going to assess students on the state assessment. In short, they decided after we had already built our curriculum maps around the new state standards that they were not ready to build a state test on the new state standards therefore they were going to revert back to the old standards for the state assessment. We decided that we would power through and continue on with the new standards while spiraling in old standards that were not part of the newly adopted state standards, as needed, as this would only benefit our students in the long run. 

Additionally, this told us that our common assessment data would be crucial to monitoring our students progress and knowing our students by standard to intervene as needed throughout the year. We called these the ‘master data spreadsheet of all spreadsheets’ because every teacher had access to every content’s data; collective ownership. On intervention days, our math teachers may be doing a reading intervention or social studies doing a writing intervention and it was imperative that they be familiar with that data. Teachers were given time during late starts to look at this information in order to make a plan. You can also see on our master data spreadsheets that there is a column titled “percent growth.” We monitored this growth each week in that we wanted levels 1 and 2 to be negative (meaning less students were scoring level 1 and 2 on assessments) and we wanted levels 3 and 4 to increase (meaning we had more students demonstrating mastery from pre-assessment to post-assessment on their common assessments. The standards that are listed in the master data spreadsheets are the essential standards for each content area. 

Our data was reviewed weekly during our late start Wednesdays and during weekly content meetings. Teachers had to have input their data into the master data spreadsheet before weekly content meetings so they were ready to discuss and move forward with a plan with regard to student progress. Once per quarter during our district adopted remote learning days, teachers then took a look at each quarter’s essential standards, common assessment data and percent growth, and made a plan for how they were going to address the needs of students who had not shown mastery yet. Students were then able to have the opportunity to receive an intervention during Expeditions and reassess, if necessary. As mentioned previously, we were looking for the percent growth to be negative for level 1’s and 2’s and positive for level 3’s and 4’s, showing us that less students were scoring at a level 1 and 2 and more students were obtaining mastery. From that information, as we met on our content reflection days each quarter we began breaking down each essential standard with regard to this data. We were looking at essential standards with the most percentage of mastery and essential standards with the least percentage of mastery. That would tell us the goal and area of growth we could focus on for the next quarter/year (we’ve done this for several years). 

High Reliability Schools Certified in Levels 1, 2, and 3

  • Safe and Collaborative Culture (2020)
  • Effective Teaching in Every Classroom (2021)
  • Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (2021)