Neosho Junior High (2023)
- Number of Students: 754
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 41%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0.14%
- Percent of Special Education: 0.12%
- White: 65.9%
- Black: 0.8%
- Hispanic: 15.9%
- Asian: 1.3%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 7.8%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 2.1%
- Multiracial: 6.2%
- Other: 0%
Neosho Junior High has been involved in the professional learning community (PLC) process for over ten years, but one might say our initial efforts represented more of a commitment to compliance than a way of collaboration. Teachers were working harder than ever but were often coming back to the drawing board year after year to rewrite the curriculum or rehash essential standards. After attending a Solution Tree seminar during the summer of 2019, our teacher teams met during Team Time to identify the areas they felt would move the needle most for kids. This resulted in a commitment to abandon “PLC Lite” practices and begin implementing the systems that were proven to work. Over the last five years, we have shifted our focus to doing the right work by creating systems and protocols that help keep the teams moving toward improved student learning.
In the following years, teacher teams attended PLC institutes and brought back practices and systems to refine the work our teams are already engaged in. Systems added and refined over the years have included structured work to teach protocols to teacher teams and students, an RTI (Response to Intervention) team, tier II and tier III time built into student schedules, and more intentionally aligned assessments as departments continue the work to implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum.
Since 2019, we have involved more and more of our team members in ongoing PD to refine our PLC practices, sending twenty-one of our team members through PLC at Work and RTI at Work sessions. As the 2022 school year began, so did a renewed commitment to strengthen our professional learning communities with new administrators and a large team of new teachers who would learn what it means to create highly functional teams that influence high levels of learning for students.
This year, teams were given a PLC guide with an outline of annual artifacts and milestones during the first full staff PD meeting. This guiding document was meant to steer the work of our collaborative teams and lives in our shared file for teams to access and review as needed. To begin the work we utilized a landing document that all collaborative teams would use to link their norms and goals for the year, and benchmarked the processes of each team from this initial work.
Five years ago our district realigned our mission, vision, and values and our building used those as a catalyst for work to focus our next steps.
Mission: We prepare the youth of our community to be people who are intelligent, driven, and make lives better for those around them.
Vision: Prepare students to be a workforce that will grow the region, and make Neosho School District the district of choice in Southwest Missouri.
Values: - Rigorous educational opportunities that empower learners
Safe, supportive, collaborative culture
Care for our facilities and stewards of our community
In order to create a culture of continuous improvement, NJH has implemented many systems that reinforce a commitment to growth. Those collective commitments included a focus on professional practice, building community, and being data-informed. In 2019, collaborative teams were asked to increase the number of common formative assessments they utilized. These efforts initially led to the more identical implementation of the selected lesson and measured data leaving little room for learning best teaching strategies. In 2020, many teams set their own goals for having at least one formative and one summative common assessment per unit, with an agreed-upon intervention following the assessment. On our return from COVID outage in 2020-2021, it wasn't required by building administration, but most collaborative teams continued reflecting on the question, "how do I know students have met the standard?", while improving formative practices. In the years since the pandemic, the 4 PLC questions have become a protocol required to be considered during each weekly collaborative team meeting.
Another way we track growth is with the use of iReady benchmark assessments. Four years ago we implemented iReady as our district-wide diagnostic software, and have seen significant growth by using the data tools available for analyzing our student's performance. Over the last several years since implementing tier III intervention building-wide, our teams have seen growth for our students scoring three or more grade levels behind, but there was less growth for on-grade level students. This revelation led several teams to dig into the essential standards and evaluate the rigor of the assessments they had been producing. This is the current reality in our building, leading teams to begin working with Marzano’s Critical Concepts for each strand to refine and outline proficiency for each Missouri Learning Standard that was identified as a priority by collaborative teams.
This year we implemented one instructional round per semester so our teachers could learn from the expertise of others already on our team. A round consists of two 10-minute observations and a twenty-minute debrief led by our instructional coach. Rounds are scheduled during teacher plan time and include groups of 3-4 teachers observing their peers. Our first cycle was geared around building teacher self-efficacy, growing the culture of commitment to professional practice, sharing practices that are already present on our team, and framing feedback in terms of instructional elements from the New Art and Science of Teaching. Our second set of rounds in the spring semester set teachers up to observe others on our team who were applying or innovating on elements selected from the school’s Model of Instruction. Teachers were paired with practitioners based on teacher-identified learning goals. These rounds have played a critical role in improving familiarity with effective teaching in every classroom and have paved a way for teachers to see their practice on a continuum. Over the last two years, our department PLCs have been gaining insight into effective practices by focusing on standards or classrooms in which the most growth was seen in Data Analysis Protocols. These instructional rounds offer our team members professional development on the Elements from the New Art and Science of Teaching in action that lead to greater student learning through improved teacher effectiveness.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Teams begin each year by reviewing the essential standards for their content area, unpacking those standards, and reviewing their proposed pacing guides. These guides include SMART goals which help teams focus on student learning targets that are critical for mastery. Teacher teams have created the benchmark for student mastery of standards and most teams have multiple common formative assessments for each learning target. Several departments have begun adapting Marzano’s Critical Concepts and designing proficiency scales, with ELA leading the way. Our math teams utilize professional development through Math at Work and receive coaching for assessment alignment through Missouri’s District Continuous Improvement coaching through DCI training.
Departments are taking on the task of developing high-quality tier II protocols for students who have not yet mastered the content. Time is built into the master schedule for each grade level and content team to have a common plan time, with the expectation that there is a data analysis protocol in place weekly that results in intervention. Intervention time for tier II is provided in class in small groups, and a separate time is available in W.I.N. (What I Need), a 35 minute seminar each Friday, for students to receive help in any subject in which they may not have met the benchmark.
Teacher teams have mandatory departmental collaboration each Wednesday for 52 minutes. This collaborative work time allows teachers to dive into student data using a Data Analysis Protocol to analyze results from common formative or summative assessments. Teams reflect on the unit SMART goals and utilize Flex Days to reteach content that might not have been mastered by students during tier I instruction and reflected in CFAs.
Teachers are expected to have a formal or informal assessment daily to guide practice for the next lesson.
Our district builds full professional development days into our calendar, and our teachers receive coaching around data analysis on the diagnostic tool, iReady, to develop plans to design and monitor our tier III system. These PD sessions offer a full day of collaboration for our collaborative teams. Often in these sessions, our teams plan the formatives they might use to collect and respond to student learning including exit slips, use of technology, or strategies to give instant feedback on quick formative assessments.
Our team has two focuses for monitoring student growth, daily checks through formatives, or standard benchmarks with summative, and three progress monitoring checks through iReady diagnostics. Teams plan weekly interventions for the learning of the day on grade-level material after analyzing data as team. Our ELA and Math data mine to determine which students are three or more grade levels behind and plan structured intervention for those students through our building wide WIN time.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
NJH has refined our approach every year for the last five years, but we have consistently ensured there was a time in the day dedicated to RTI. In the early years we focused on tier II interventions only, and while it was helpful for departments that had well-developed tier II plans, those without didn’t always move kids to master the learning of the day. This alignment is something teams continue to refine with each unit through the use of the data analysis protocols.
Three years ago, we implemented a tier III time as well, and we have seen the greatest movement with our students out of below basic and into basic and even proficient levels. Teachers utilize iReady as the diagnostic tool, and students who score three or more grade levels behind experience additional diagnostic testing to place them in the most appropriate tier III intervention groups. Our English and Math departments have created a leveled system to help students level out of skills they have a deficit in. These interventions take place during a building wide W.I.N. (What I Need) Time, where the entire staff is all hands on deck, to provide enrichment for students who do not need remediation. W.I.N. cycles are 4 week rotations, meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday for 35 minutes, strands are broken into 4 components where the skill is taught and modeled on Tuesday, and practice deepening sessions are provided Wednesday to scaffold students to the priority concepts necessary to be successful in grade-level content.
Teachers provide tier II interventions in two ways, they can build a flex day or small groups into their classroom instruction or they can pull a group to reteach during our Friday W.I.N. time using the Adaptive Scheduler to request students and communicate it efficiently.
Other opportunities for students to receive remediation or extension are offered through elective and mandatory tutoring after school.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
In order to build teacher capacity to work as members of high-performing teams, we started by establishing collective commitments, and a norms accountability system so all teachers have a voice and teams can default to them when focus might veer off of the work of the PLC. In 2018-2019 our leadership team attended PLC Coaching Academy sessions with Greg Kushner to develop team leaders. In later years, we also sent teams of teacher leaders through Adaptive Schools training to build their facilitation skills and provide strategies they might use in the classroom. Once the foundation was established, agendas that focused on the four core questions were implemented. In the early stages, completed agendas were collected and distributed to each department to discuss alignment of the work to the standard, which led to much more focused collaborative work around student learning rather than activities to be discussed.
As alignment took place around the essential standards, common formative and summative assessments were created and implemented as part of the expectation for collaborative teams. The results of this alignment have resulted in
Use of formative assessment to guide instruction
Use of data to compare teaching methods or the strategies' impact on student learning
Access to data that influences the use of building wide Tier II time to reteach students who have not yet mastered the standard.
Implementation of Tier III instruction for students 3 or more grade levels below in Reading and Math
Tier II behavior team focuses on behavior that might prevent student learning and functions as a building wide PLC
Currently our team is digging into the learning to be done with the Model of Instruction to improve teacher effectiveness in every classroom. Each teacher has selected two elements to evaluate and measure as a part of their growth plan, in addition to two areas of coaching provided by building administrators. Teachers gain familiarity with other elements through their participation in Instructional Rounds.
Our team has also participated in several book studies around building high-functioning teams including, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Move your Bus by Ron Clark, Change Leader by Michael Fullan, Leading a High-Reliability School by Marzano et. al, and Repair Kit for Grading: (3rd Edition) 15 Fixes for Broken Grades by Ken O’Connor.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
The MAP Data Range 2018-2022 file represents student end-of-year achievement and is organized from below grade level to advanced. There is a consistent movement of students out of the below basic range and into the upper levels of achievement year over year supporting the work we have been involved in for our tier III remediation program. Collaborative teams are directly responsible for the growth of students in ELA and Math in organizing and implementing building-wide approaches to supporting tier III work. This data also supports the next steps for our team's work to continue improving tier I instruction for all students.
When considering the NJH Map Data Model PLC document, the growth for the subgroups should be noted. We credit the work around foundational skills in tier III supports, clarity in tier II sessions, and improved tier I instruction for the increase in achievement for our students in those groups.
The 3 year reading comparison has data from the last three years indicating upward trends in both ELA and Math. We do experience a dip in Math, due to an implementation year with an entirely new team of teachers, but the trend continues upward the following year.
Awards & Recognition
Featured in EdTech Magazine in 2018 about how modern learning environments support numerous pedagogy.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Curriculum Associates recognized Neosho Junior School as demonstrating outstanding student academic growth as identified by the iReady diagnostic tool.
In 2021, Neosho Junior High won a Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant, which will provide training and resources as the building works toward implementation of a 5-year literacy plan.
Staff Professional Development Recognition and Achievement
24% of the Neosho Junior High School (NJH) staff have attended PBL advanced training.
51% of the NJH staff has attended PBL level one training.
Assistant Principal is currently certified by Magnify Learning as a PBL trainer.
61% of the NJH staff has attended training in Professional Learning Communities offered by Solution Tree.
2022 4 teachers attend the American Middle Level Educators Conference.
2021-2022 3 cohorts of 10 teachers have been trained through Adaptive Schools facilitation seminars.
2022 1 teacher trained through Speech & Theatre Association of Missouri 2022 Professional Development Conference
2022 1 teacher trained through Missouri Music Educators' Association State Conference
2022 All Science department teachers (6) attended Science Roundtable Meeting offered by the South West Center for Excellence in Education
2022 All Social studies teachers (6) attended Social Studies Roundtable Content Meeting offered by the South West Center for Excellence in Education
2022 All 7th grade ELA teachers (3) attended ELA Roundtable Content Meeting offered by the South West Center for Excellence in Education
2023 Missouri Association of School Librarians Spring Conference was attended by our librarian, who holds state office.
Awards and Grants
Neosho Junior High in 2021-2022 achieved MAP score growth that puts our students among the top growth scores in the state!
The PRIME Center at Saint Louis University has awarded NJH in their "Beating the Odds Report" report, for moving the needle on student growth in MAP scores while serving high concentrations of low-income students. Out of 81 middle/junior high schools statewide with high concentrations of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch, Neosho Junior High was in the top 10 in the state for growth!
ELA Growth: 4th in the state
Mathematics Growth: 6th in the state
Neosho Junior High was also recognized in the Missouri Statewide Student Growth Report, which measures exceptional growth regardless of a school's free/reduced lunch enrollment. NJH was awarded #10 in the state (out of 501 middle schools) for ELA growth, and #18 for Math Growth.
Library maker space received a Neosho School District Charitable Foundation grant for new technology in 2020.
National History Day state competition qualifiers by Year
2022 - 1 Student
2021 - 3 Students
2020 - 10 Students
2019 - 8 Students