Sonora Elementary School (2023)

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


The disruption of Covid led our staff on an organic journey which led us to the PLC at Work® life.  Throughout the journey we have strived to learn from others that have gone before us as the Chinese Proverb says, “If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.” Our journey began while we were all captive audiences from our homes.  While teaching virtually, it became evident that our students would return with gaps in their learning.  We wanted to make a plan for when students returned face to face in Fall 2020.  

Dr. Stewman began to see opportunities from Solution Tree for the Mind the Gaps Virtual professional development.  She signed up to participate and invited the other leadership team members to view as well.  After participating in all three sessions, it was evident that we needed to guide our staff in the flash back/flash forward protocol to identify gaps from spring 2020 that would need to be addressed in the fall ‘20.  

Upon returning in the fall, teachers were able to use the work from this protocol to ensure we were closing the gaps.  Witnessing the focus on the identified standards from the flash back/flash forward protocol and with staff participating in other Solution Tree Webinars, Dr. Stewman began planning to begin the PLC at Work® Process with the staff beginning in January 2021.  Teachers already had common planning time, but to build the strength of the teams the work began by using the January CTMs to go through the Solution Tree training videos called “Are We a Group or a Team?”

During this same time, the administrative team agreed that in order to continue to build on the collective efficacy of our teachers, we needed to revisit and possibly rewrite our mission and vision statement.  Our district was doing this at the same time, so we were able to align our work to the district’s.  We ensured that all stakeholders were involved:  certified staff, classified staff, parents, community members, and students.  In addition to re-creating a vision and mission statement, we also added collective commitments and goals.  During this same time period, we were applying to be a School of Innovation (SOI) in the state.  So, we aligned our goals with the district and SOI.  We had never been so purposeful!

Through other Solution Tree Webinars during the spring of 2021 we were able to grow the knowledge of our leadership and grade level teams.  We also made connections to Solution Tree Presenters that helped move us deeper in our implementation.  Brian Butler worked with our administration on fine-tuning our language and suggesting professional reading.  His suggestion of “What About Us?” led to our kindergarten team book study.  Mrs. Hennarichs, our Asst. Principal was able to learn from Heather Friziellie, which led to a book study of “Yes We Can” with our special education team.

 We used the All Things PLC Website to locate a Model School closest to us. The search led to a Zoom meeting with the principal and leadership team from Spradling Elementary in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  We invited 2 Spradling staff members to provide on-site training to a team of staff with grade level and specialty representation.  They led our staff through identifying essential standards and creating a schedule to ensure students receive all tiers of instruction.

As a staff we were ready to go deeper, but knew we needed more focused ongoing support.  The staff agreed to participate in a book study on “Learning by Doing”.  In addition, we also requested a partnership with a Solution Tree Consultant.  Over the last two years we have worked closely with our Solution Tree Consultant, Dr. Mandy Barrett.  This partnership has been invaluable since the feedback is specific and timely to our day to day work.  

 During the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, we have continued to take every opportunity to send staff to professional development opportunities including PLC Institutes, RTI Conference as well as other nearby sessions:  i.e. Tom Schimmer on CFAs.  Our district has also provided many opportunities to continue our learning by bringing in Mike Mattos, Anthony Muhammad, and (soon) Bill Hall.  Our journey continues this summer with: attending the training with Bill Hall with our guiding coalition, working on next year’s schedule with Dr. Barrett, beginning the process of building our RTI Pyramid as we study “Taking Action”, and sending 9 additional staff members to attend the summer PLC Institute in Little Rock.

We are committed to growing as learners so we can impact our students at higher levels.  Others helped us on our journey.  We hope that being designated as a Promising Practices School, we will be able to inspire, support, and guide other schools to grow as a professional learning community to know better and do better.


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

After a training in spring 2021 by two staff members from Spradling Elementary, a Model PLC School, our staff borrowed their format for identifying and unpacking essential standards.  As our teachers attended training, participated in book studies and grew in PLC knowledge, we began to create our own essential standard unpacking document that has been revised every year.  Currently we are looking at adding two additional components to our unpacking document next year:  highlight instructional months and a calendar to plan Instructional Days (start Date, CFAs, analysis, pause days/small group/no new content, end date, assessment dates).  To align essential standards and address potential deficits across grade levels, teacher teams worked collaboratively together to vertically align and backwards map essential standards in literacy and math. 

Following a series of classroom walk throughs to observe Tier 1 instruction and the use of effective instructional strategies, coaching cycles and peer-to-peer observations are implemented based on observations made during the walk throughs.  

Pre and post-assessments determine student learning gaps, and instruction is targeted to intervene in these gaps specifically to close these gaps and rapidly increase student achievement. SST and grade-level teachers meet weekly to look at individual student data to determine existing or continuous reading tier 3 interventions. 

To address the development of executive function skills and social emotional needs in students, teachers have implemented the use of soft starts and morning meetings. Starting the day with soft starts looks like students playing board games together or building and creating with various STEM materials. This allows students to build their executive functioning skills in a low-stress environment. Then, classrooms transition into morning meetings which builds classroom community through connection, unity, destress, and play.  Additionally, the use of EFGo has been implemented.  EFGo is a computer-based program that identifies deficits in executive functions and prescribes activities on an individual basis.  


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

We are creating and implementing systems of interventions and extensions to provide students with additional time and support for learning in all tiers.  We very purposefully built our schedule for the 22-23 school year to ensure each grade level had identified tier 1, 2, and 3 protected times.  These times were communicated to each support staff (parents, counselors, interventionist, etc.) to protect these times of instruction from pull out.  We aligned tier 3 times with services to students with disabilities to decrease pull outs, ensuring students were getting increased tier 1 support. 

Teachers have identified and unpacked essential standards, aligned executive function skills and created common formative assessments to assess student learning. After a pre assessment, teachers plan for effective tier 1 instruction. Throughout tier 1 instruction teachers are reflecting and monitoring instruction through common formative assessments and making adjustments as needed.  After the post assessment, teams use the results of the common formative assessment to divide students into appropriate intervention and/or extension groups in math and reading.  Teachers share the student data of each class, intervention groups, as well as grade level data in full transparency.  Based on the need to see grade level results, we were able to gain permission for the guiding coalition member of each grade level to have grade level rights in NWEA Map to pull grade level reports.

End of year reflection conversations led teachers to realize that rigor of common formative assessments needed to increase.  As we began to compare progress on essential standards from year to year, teachers pointed out that they did not believe it was a fair comparison because the level or rigor had increased for this school year.  Yet, teachers are also seeing more kids needing extension than ever before!   Our GT teacher has been instrumental in coaching classroom teachers on creating extensions aligned with the essential standards. She has joined grade level planning meetings and CTMs to support the work of extension.

Additionally, teachers and the Sonora Support Team have administered universal screeners to identify students who need tier 3 support.  Data is tracked on these students weekly as our Sonora Support Team and each grade level meet weekly to discuss Tier 3 student progress and skill transfer.

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

Based on the research of Hattie, we know that Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) has one of the highest effect sizes at 1.57, showing that CTE is strongly correlated with student achievement.  CTE refers to the shared belief among educators and teams of teachers that through their collaborative efforts, they can influence student outcomes and increase student achievement for ALL students.  In order to increase CTE we focused on embedding a routine of public learning (adults), provide time for reflection, celebrate teacher learning and make the learning visible, and share stories across the school community.

We began building teacher capacity initially by providing subs for teachers to be able to view the videos provided by Solution Tree during the 2020-2021 school year.  Those free sessions were a catalyst for our journey.  When Dr. Stewman heard about the All Things PLC Website Model School Locator, she searched for a local school in Arkansas  that was recognized as a Model PLC School with similarities to Sonora ES.  After a Zoom with the principal, academic leader, and two teachers from the guiding coalition, Dr. Stewman asked about having the teachers provide 1 day of PD on two topics;  scheduling and identifying/unpacking essential standards.  Nine staff members were able to present, knowing that they would be leading this work at their grade level team.  

The goals for the end of the 2020-2021 school year were to revise our mission, vision, collective commitments and goals.  We also wanted to create a schedule with identified and protected tiers of instruction and to identify and unpack math essential standards.  With the training provided by the Spradling team, we had clarity for  our next steps. 

During CTMs in the 2021-2022 school year, every certified staff member and some classified staff members participated in a book study on Learning by Doing.  The  second semester each team was able, etc. to select a book study of their choice as long as it supported the PLC at Work and 4 questions.  Some of the books chosen were: Common Formative Assessments, What About Us?, Empower, and Brene’ Brown podcasts.  We also sent teams to each Solution Tree Training available to us. By the conclusion of summer ‘23, 27 staff members will have attended a PLC Institute.

Other learning opportunities we have provided for staff:

  • January 2021 CTMs … Are we a group or a Team?
  • March 10th, 2021 Zoom Meeting with Brian Butler with Sonora ES Administrators 
  • March 11th, 2021 PLC Solution Tree Webinar
  • April 1st-2nd, 2021 Mind the Gaps Foundations by AR DESE
  • April 8th, 2021 SMART Goals 
  • April 23rd, 2021 Zoom with Ft. Smith school
  • May 4th, 2021 Lindsay zoomed with Heather Friziellie (Led to the spSPED  CTM to read Yes, We Can!)
  • Spring 2021 worked with school community to rewrite vision, mission, collective commitments and administrative collective commitments
  • May 10th, 2021 Spradling Team presented to the future guiding coalition on essential standards and scheduling
  • June 8th, 2021 Building PLC Culture Overview
  • July 27th, 2021 GC met for 1st time
  • September 24th, 2021 Meeting with Dr. Barrett, Solution Tree Consultant
  • October 19, 2021 Interactive GC Conference with GC Members
  • September 26, 2022 CFAs with Tom Schimmer
  • October 11-12, 2022 RTI Conference
  • July 27, 2022 Anthony Muhammad (district offered)
  • October 24th, 2022 Time with Mike Mattos (district offered)
  • March 5-6, 2023 Amplify Your Impact
  • 2021-2023 2 year Solution Tree Partnership with Dr. Mandy Barrett

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

As part of our School of Innovation Application and work we identified 3 goals:

  • GOAL 1                                                                                            Through ongoing partnerships, job-embedded professional development, and increased student agency/goal setting, Sonora Elementary will see an increase in the percentage of K-5th grade students making or exceeding one year's growth in literacy as measured by: Lexia Core 5 and Benchmark Assessment System (BAS).  Additional data will be used for ongoing progress monitoring:  Phonological Awareness Screening Test (PAST), Quick Phonics Assessment (QPA).  Summative data to be used will be:  School Value-Added Score (ESSA), maintaining a score of 80 and above; at least 5% annual growth of 3rd-5th students reading on grade level on ACT Aspire (2019 = 38.93).

  • GOAL 2  (NOTE: Changed direction)Changed measurement criteria:
    Increase student agency by creating a building/classroom environment that fosters independent learners who own their learning as measured by Panorama Education on the indicators of grit, self-efficacy, and growth mindset in 3rd-5th grades. Baseline data from 2nd-5th grade students May 2021 shows: 48% scored favorably in grit; 46% scored favorably in social awareness; and 60% scored favorably in growth mindset. Compared to other elementary schools with more than 70th percentile in the Panoramic National Database, grit and social awareness both fall below the 10th percentile, while growth mindset falls at the 50th percentile of elementary schools.

  • GOAL 3
    Transform Sonora's culture and climate through the use of a trauma-informed SEL approach to fostering youths' social-emotional development that will lead to transformative teaching and learning as measured by Panorama Education on indicators of social awareness & self-management in 3rd-5th grades.  Baseline data from May 2021 shows: 58% of students scored favorably in self-management, which is below the 10th percentile of national average;  60% of students score favorable in social awareness, which is in the 10th percentile of schools in the Panoramic national database as compared with other elementary schools with more than 70% free/reduced lunch.

This document gives the details of our progress of each of those goals.



  • EAST Founder’s Winner (2nd time and 1st elementary to receive twice)
  • Affiliate School with TCRWP
  • Cohort 4 of Making Spaces Partnership with Amazeum
  • U of A Partnership
  • Odyssey of the Mind team 
  • Advanced to regional competition 
  • Easter Seal Partnership
  • One of 20 schools statewide that will be participating in a federal project funded by the US Department of Education. STEM+C2 is a collaboration among the Duke University Talent Identification Program, Pennsylvania State University, and UA Little Rock.
  • 5 grants awarded to classroom teachers


  • 21CCLC Grant (Sonora Learning Academy Program)
  • Sonora partners with Solution Tree for a year-long partnership.
  • Sonora partners with Art Feeds for the 50th Mural.
  • STEM+C2 partnership concludes with 2nd grade, moving to 3rd grade.
  • $10,000 A.W.A.R.E Grant awarded to Mrs. Harp to take a team to the Trauma National Conference
  • Grant awarded to Mrs. Harp to create a connection/sensory room
  • School of Innovation Application Approved
  • Scholastic Patterson Grant Awarded to 3 classroom teachers
  • 4 grants awarded to classroom teachers


  • Blue and You Foundation 2022 Mini Grant
  • Currently applying for School of Innovation Designation, with on site visit on May 2nd, 
  • Partnership with Solution Tree Year 2 (Dr. Barrett Consultant)
  • 2 grants awarded to staff
  • Therapy Dog Partnership with PTA