Grady B. Rasco Middle School (2023)
- Number of Students: 729
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 61%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 5.21%
- Percent of Special Education: 16.59%
- White: 44.58%
- Black: 5.21%
- Hispanic: 43.62%
- Asian: 2.06%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.55%
- Multiracial: 3.98%
- Other: 0%
When Brian Cole became the principal at Rasco Middle School in 2014, each grade level was divided into teams with every team consisting of one teacher from each of the four core content areas. The teams met weekly to discuss student needs but because the team consisted of teachers from four different content areas, teachers were not able to plan together or review data. Having attended the PLC Conference as an assistant principal, Mr. Cole knew there was a better way and the seeds for Rasco Middle School’s PLC journey were planted. Mr. Cole recognized the importance of collaboration and embedded time in the schedule for content area collaboration and interventions for struggling students.
After three years at Rasco, Mr. Cole was promoted to a district-level position and our campus was under new leadership. This became a continual theme for Rasco and over the last ten years, our campus has been under the direction of five head principals and fourteen assistant principals. With so many changes in leadership, the effectiveness of our PLC has been inconsistent and our scores were reflecting this inconsistency. Due to the lack of growth our students were showing and a continued decline in testing data, in 2019 our campus received an overall C rating with an F in student growth and was identified for targeted support and improvement by TEA.
In the midst of the unprecedented times of social distancing, mask mandates, and figuring out how to facilitate learning in the throes of a pandemic; Rasco got a completely new administrative team. One of the additions to this administrative team was a Dean of Instruction whose sole focus was improving the level of instruction on our campus to ensure student growth and keep us out of comprehensive support. The staff worked tirelessly to learn everything they could about the PLC Process and really focused on questions 1 & 2 in order to improve tier 1 instruction.
With the focus on improving tier 1 instruction included bringing in a Content Curriculum Specialist (CCS) for science, as this was an area where our students had been underperforming for several years. The role of the CCS was a new one for not only our campus, but our district as well and the implementation of someone else working with teachers to write lessons, plan activities, and dissect data was not without growing pains. However, despite these challenges, during the first year of implementation of the science CCS, our 5th grade science scores went from 3% above the state average to 11% above the state average.
Our renewed focus on the PLC process allowed us to collectively celebrate the wins of OUR students and objectively look at the data trends to support each other as lifelong learners. A PLC was no longer a meeting at Rasco and instead, our staff became a Professional Learning Community focused on results and committed to learning from one another.
Through this process, we began to really analyze data and use it as a tool to reflect on our own teaching and learning. We had a renewed focus on professional development, and worked tirelessly in our meetings to take the new skills we were learning and tie them in with the data trends and use data to drive our instruction. Another critical part of our success has been bringing on content specialists for math and reading in addition to the science CCS. These ladies have been an integral component to bringing about change on our campus and helping ensure that tier 1 instruction is rigorous, student-centered, and aligned with questions 1 and 2. They have also been essential in helping create common formative assessments and using the data to form groups and plan lessons for intervention as well as enrichment. In August of 2022, we found out that our hard work had paid off and we were no longer identified as a campus in need of targeted support and improvement, our overall campus rating was a B at 85, and for the first time ever, Rasco had earned 3 distinctions in the areas of Reading, Science, and Postsecondary Readiness. We celebrated this success while looking forward to how we could continue to grow.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Rasco Middle School utilizes designated time during the day to meet as curriculum teams at least once a week. During this time, an administrator and the content specialist (CCS) work with the teacher team to ensure that the lessons are aligned with the essential outcomes that have been previously identified. Each content team has access to the district curriculum framework which includes model lessons that align with the rigor of our state test. These curriculum frameworks have been created by guiding coalitions led by the district curriculum coordinator. Each summer, the guiding coalitions have representatives from each campus and grade level unpack the learning targets and create lessons that will align with the state standards and best practices to ensure the curriculum is meeting the varied needs of our students and teachers while also maintaining high expectations.
Before diving into the lessons on the framework, the PLC teams look at the TEKS and create a common assessment that all the members agree to use. Our common assessments all have the same format. Sixty percent of the assessment is focused on essential outcomes (readiness standards), leaving forty percent to be focused on the supporting standards. During the assessment building process, the PLC also looks for resources from Lead4ward to see the frequency distribution of each TEK. This allows the team to get a glimpse of what students need to be most successful on the STAAR test. Once the assessment is completed, the PLC team then starts planning lessons.
Teachers have the ability to work together to create their own lessons or use the lessons located in the frameworks provided by the district. This allows our teachers, interventionists, content specialists, and administrators the ability to work together to find the best practices to deliver the material to the students.
Once the lessons have been taught and the assessments have been given, data becomes the priority. At Rasco, we truly mean it when we say that we design intervention by student, by standard. After each assessment, content teams meet to look at the data. During this data dig, the team looks at any TEKs that may need reteaching as a whole group because student performance was globally low. Data drives the conversations about student performance on each standard and the team discusses different strategies used to deliver the lesson with teachers often demonstrating their teaching with a mock lesson. Additionally, each student has a "Green and Growing" folder where they track their progress on each assessment as well as a breakdown of how the questions aligned with each standard so they can break down their grade by what concepts and standards they excelled at and what they need to practice more.
All of this information is used to create a plan for teachers, interventionists, and content specialists to truly target intervention and enrichment by student, by standard by pulling students during rocket hour. This forty-five minute class period is built into our day to allow reteaching and/or enrichment based on the data from the assessments. The data dissection takes place after every assessment including CBAs, formative classroom assessments, interim tests, and practice STAAR tests. By taking time to plan accordingly and dissect the data, we have continued to watch our students grow because we are able to meet their specific needs based on their individual strengths and learning gaps.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
At Rasco Middle School, providing students with additional time and support for learning is accomplished through the utilization of Rocket Hour, Explore Hour, and tutorials.
We have implemented a class period designed to target specific areas in need of growth, obtain HB4545 hours, and provide extra time and extensions to further the growth of all our students. Our teachers utilize information gathered from common formative assessments through data trackers and in-class observations to determine the individual needs of each student in regard to specific grade-level standards. During rocket hour, our general education teachers, special education teachers, interventionists, and content curriculum specialists work with targeted groups of students to address each student's individual needs.
As a Professional Learning Community, we meet weekly and interpret student formative and summative data to determine student and department needs and prepare rigorous instruction for all of our students. Each grade-level content team creates plans to include enrichment, intervention, reteaching, and accommodations for special populations to ensure all student needs are met. These protocols allow our teachers to meet individual student needs through recovery and extensions and answer questions 3 and 4 of the PLC essential questions.
Our campus has implemented a Rocket Hour electronic workbook that is shared with all staff members weekly. Each week, staff members select the students they will be working with based on the data discussions that took place in their weekly team meeting. Staff members select student names to assign any student to their class for Rocket Hour. Once students are selected for that specific day, the student will no longer be available on the drop-down menu for other teachers to select. This eliminates the issue of double booking students.
Students that are not selected on a specific day will be placed in a study hall setting and given uniform assignments planned during each team's weekly meeting. Additionally, each student has the Rocket Hour sheet linked in a school-wide Rocket Hour Google Classroom where the students can check to see their specific assigned Rocket Hour teacher for each day. As a result, our Rocket Hour classes are easy to access for teachers and students and we are able to provide interventions and extensions to all students- by student, by standard.
Furthermore, Rasco Middle School also has a built-in block of time called Explore. Explore is a 30-minute period tied to the student's lunch period, much like a traditional homeroom class. This time allows interventionists and special education teachers the opportunity to schedule students in their classrooms to provide services to students addressed through the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It also allows general education teachers an opportunity to provide extensions or social-emotional lessons.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
It's no secret that a teacher has the power to light the spark for students to dive into the curriculum or extinguish any desire the students have to engage in meaningful learning. This is why it is imperative that we provide ongoing professional development opportunities, support, and guidance for all teachers. With this in mind, Rasco has committed to partnering with different consultants and experts in their respective fields to help our teachers grow as instructional leaders. We utilize Capturing Kids' Hearts to form connections with students, we have brought in specific reading and math consultants to work with our teacher teams on specific strategies, we piloted a Content Curriculum Specialist Position on our campus that has now been adopted by the whole district, and we work to support our teachers in their emotional well being as well.
With the shortage of teachers this year, we had to hire multiple teachers that were in the process of becoming certified so we knew they would need more support than the average first-year teacher. With this in mind, we created a new-teacher cohort and meet after school and invite different specialists to come in and work with the new teachers on various areas of their job. Some of these have included behavior specialists, helping with grade books when it was time to post grades, pairing them with an experienced teacher as a mentor, etc.
Additionally, we work with each team weekly to learn the PLC Process, learn how to improve Tier 1 Instruction, and focus their efforts on improved student learning. One of the ways we do this is through meeting outlines for each type of meeting our Professional Learning Community may have. We have an outline for a planning meeting, a data meeting, and an instructional practice meeting. Each of these outlines asks specific questions centered around the 4 questions to guide discussion while also training PLC members on the PLC Process.
Achievement Data Files
Based on the 2022 testing data, Rasco received 3 state distinctions in the areas of Reading, Science, and Postsecondary Readiness. We were also removed from being a campus in targeted intervention.