Huntsville Intermediate (2023)

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

Huntsville Intermediate began working with Solution Tree during the 2019-2020 school year. At the time the school was rated an F by the Texas Education Agency and was on their 4th principal in three years. Systems and expectations needed to be established and one of the first tasks was to create effective PLC’s that would drive instruction and lead to sustainable improvement. We started with clear expectations and then norms for collaboration and student achievement. The work of the guiding coalition was used to help create a shared understanding of the work that would be needed to successfully turn the school around. We started with creating a mission and vision statement (Artifact 1) and collective commitments (Artifact 2) that were agreed upon by the staff. Our mission is to grow each student emotionally, socially and academically, and we will accomplish this through our vision of setting our students up for success as they transition to the next level and beyond.

We have not wavered from our commitments to provide students with rigorous content that meets their needs but that does not mean it has been an easy journey. In the first year of our work, the campus was showing early signs of improvement and then was shut down due to COVID. There was another change in principal when the current principal was promoted to the High School. When we returned to in person learning the next year we were able to rely on the strength of our PLC model (Artifact 3) to help guide our teachers through new learning and a shift in their thinking on how to teach students virtually and in person. The PLC became where we were able to discuss how we would reach virtual students and still maintain the growth and improvement needed to not only improve the school but also make up for the new larger gaps created by the pandemic. 

We were all entering a new normal but this also meant we were all learning together. It was no longer veteran teachers who may be resistant to change versus new teachers who lacked experience. We used the book “School Improvement for All”, as well as working alongside our Solution Tree coach, Tami Sanders, to help us create a PLC model that ensured we were creating lessons that were aligned to the curriculum and were being taught at the appropriate level through a learning cycle that included formative assessments and intervention. One of our target areas was minimizing the learning gaps in reading. To address this, we implemented a guided reading program which focuses on a balanced literacy framework. The PLC offers us a structure to model, provide feedback and plan lessons to address this need. We saw results at the end of the 2020-2021 school year which led to even more commitment from our staff. The following year we continued our work and introduced our non-negotiables which included: mastery checks during all lessons, small groups each period based on the mastery check,  and an engagement strategy during every lesson. The non-negotiables were agreed upon through the work of the guiding coalition. We also strengthened our assessment process by creating and implementing a comprehensive data protocol used in PLC to ensure focused and appropriate intervention. Through our efforts, we saw our students grow throughout the year and as a result we grew from an F rated school in 2019 to a C rated school in 2022. The gains that we experienced as a campus were part of a national recognition for our district. Huntsville ISD students in grades 3-8 had an average gain of 1.13 reading grade levels per year from 2019- 2022. Huntsville ISD had the highest gains out of 3,760 districts included in the study. (Artifact 3b) For the 2022-2023 school year, we are working to improve our rating from a C to a B. We are continuing our collaborative work with the PLC process and refining first-time instruction and intervention. We have added additional Solution Tree content coaches to support content teams as they improve their practice. 


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

To implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum our school ensures that all teachers use district curriculum documents including a common Year at a Glance (Artifact 4), Pacing Calendar (Artifact 5) and TEKS Specificity documents (Artifact 6). Teachers meet during a collaborative planning time to unpack all standards (Artifact 7) and ensure that instructional materials are aligned to the rigor of the standard.Collaborative teams use a learning cycle (Artifact 8) adapted from “School Improvement for All” to plan instructional units. In the learning cycle, teams backwards design from assessment to instruction. This includes creating unit tests and common formative assessments, unpacking essential standards, and discussing best first-time instructional strategies.  


The Year at a Glance ensures alignment across the campus for each collaborative team. The Year at a Glance provides an overview of all the skills taught during the school year. details the scaffolding and sequence of skills needed to guarantee student success. Our Pacing Calendar is a visual resource that helps collaborative teams plan for and cover all needed curriculum within the allotted time. TEKS Specificity documents show the vertical alignment, the specificity of the TEKS, instructional considerations, common misconceptions and key vocabulary needed for instruction. Collaborative teams work together when unpacking the TEKS and determine proficiency levels for each essential standard. The proficiency level discussions allow collaborative teams to identify expected student work and instructional strategies to move students to proficiency for each essential standard. 


To monitor student learning on a timely basis all teachers are planning for and monitoring checks for understanding at least twice per daily lesson. All teachers use common formative and summative assessments in the learning cycle. Teachers monitor student progress and intervene or extend based on student evidence of learning. During collaborative time teachers follow a campus data analysis protocol (Artifact 9a) to monitor student growth and achievement. Teachers disaggregate data and look for trends across the grade level team and between individual class periods. Teachers also use data trackers (Artifact 10) that allow them to monitor individual student growth on each unit assessment from their previous STAAR test. The teachers use this data to have conversations with individual students and design instruction to meet the needs of all students. 


Teachers meet with administrators periodically to discuss their assessment data and set goals for student growth during teacher report card meetings (Artifact 11). Continued monitoring of teacher goals allows for discussion about the next steps the teacher will take. During collaborative team meetings teachers receive feedback and peer support to help with instructional strategies that increase student achievement. In addition to teacher goal setting, each student monitors and tracks their growth (Artifact 12) goals throughout the year for summative and benchmark assessments. 


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

In order for intervention to be successful, it must be intentional and targeted to the needs of the students. To accomplish this, we started with an understanding of the different proficiency levels, we identified where students were in their mastery of the essential standard, and then intervened with targeted lessons designed to meet the needs of each proficiency level. Our plan began with proficiency models that are developed in PLC. To help identify student needs and to adjust instruction, teachers collaborate on proficiency models (Artifact 13a). Teachers identify essential standards for each unit, then create a scaffolded description of the standard broken down into four components: Exceeding, Ready, Close, and In Need of Support. Teachers identify and describe the skills needed to be proficient in the “Ready” category, which is where students need to be performing to be at grade level. Teachers use the proficiency models in the classroom by looking at student evidence such as math work, writing samples, drawings,  then use the proficiency model to measure student progress towards grade level and adjusting the lessons to fill in gaps. 


At Huntsville Intermediate, the master schedule is arranged with built-in intervention times for each of the tested subjects, which is called Hornet Time. Hornet Time is held one hour a week per subject. PLC teams look at data collected from CFAs, unit assessments and benchmarks. The teams use this data to identify the needs of students for intervention and enrichment. Groups of students (Artifact 14) are created based on their similar needs. The PLC teams then design instruction (Artifact 15) to meet the needs of students in each group. The proficiency levels teams create during the lesson design process guide teachers to implement appropriate interventions and enrichments to move students forward. Teachers are given groups based on their individual strengths. Fluid grouping allows students to receive instruction from someone other than their scheduled content teacher. After a three week intervention cycle, the students take a post assessment to monitor their progress and continue to guide the PLC teams to further instruction for the essential standards. 


In addition to Hornet time, intervention takes place in the classroom through the use of small group instruction. Teachers use mastery checks every day in tier 1 instruction to determine which students need additional support in small group instruction. During PLC teachers discuss what they expect to see in the evidence of student learning and determine how to address common misconceptions. The teachers look at the student evidence on mastery checks and pull small groups based on similar common misconceptions which allows them to target specific skills. This ensures that students are receiving timely feedback and support prior to unit assessments. The mastery checks also provide teachers with the data needed to adjust instruction. 


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

Teachers use collaborative team time for personal and professional growth with the support of the administration and instructional coaches. The continual focus on student achievement guides the work in PLC. PLCs take responsibility for the lesson design and all student data for the campus. Teachers give and receive feedback to refine their instructional practices. 


When modeling lessons and giving feedback in collaborative team time the teachers use the Instructional Lesson Design Evaluation (Artifact 16) Tool to determine if the lesson contains high yield instructional strategies. The Instructional Lesson Design Evaluation tool builds teacher capacity by requiring the teacher to evaluate the effectiveness of their current lessons and implement more high yield instructional strategies in Tier 1 instruction. When modeling lessons in collaborative time the teachers demonstrate effective instruction. The feedback from their team allows all teachers to refine their delivery and guarantee teacher clarity. Increasing teacher capacity through modeling and peer feedback supports growth for all members of the Professional Learning Community and has a positive impact on student achievement. 


The collaborative work of planning interventions and extensions within the Professional Learning Community also builds teacher capacity because teams must discuss instructional strategies that impact students within their classrooms and translate that into strategic lessons that target students who are continuing to struggle. Interventions are strategically designed to group students who are exhibiting common errors in thinking. The teachers must then work together to address the specific needs of individual students. This collaboration allows teachers to reflect on their own practices and adjust instruction to meet the needs of all students. 


Learning walks (Artifact 17) build teacher capacity because the teachers are able to see the Instructional Lesson Design in action with students. The teacher is able to identify areas that reaffirm their own practice and incorporate more effective instructional strategies in their own classes. After each learning walk the teacher discusses their observations with an instructional coach or administrator. This conversation about how the learning walk can positively impact each teacher’s classroom. 


HIS improved their rating from an F to a C in the 21-22 school year.

Huntsville ISD was recongized in a Dallas Morning News article for showing the largest gains in reading in the state from the years 2019 to 2022, as referenced in Artifact 3b.