Busbee Creative Arts Academy (2023)
- Number of Students: 424
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 79.6%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 17%
- Percent of Special Education: 18%
- White: 27%
- Black: 40%
- Hispanic: 23%
- Asian: 4%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 6%
- Other: 0%
The motto at Busbee Creative Arts Academy is “Believe to Achieve” and this simple phrase represents so many different things at our school. The 2016-17 school year ushered in a new leadership team and new expectations for staff and students. At the time, our school had a waitlist of students trying to leave our school, for no other reason than perception. The staff and students were all eager for change and ready to rewrite the story.
As a smaller school, many of our classes were singletons, so in order to provide teachers with collaboration our school partnered with one of our other district middle schools. Our two schools committed to working together and created the #2Schools1Goal slogan. The goal was for the students at our two schools to outperform the other district middle schools. BCAA had been the lowest performing school in the district for many years.
The two schools met during in-service week and were presented with this idea. We wanted the teachers to truly plan together and to learn from each other. We aligned our schedules so that the teachers could meet in-person one day a week, alternating between schools. The teachers planned lessons, created common assessments, and analyzed results. There were many challenges that first year as we worked to get teachers to believe they could accomplish more. They struggled with keeping pace with our partner school because of the skill gaps many of our students had, but we did not give up. At the end of the year, many of the teachers admitted they had not been getting through all of the content, which we knew was creating more gaps. But, they were beginning to “Believe.”
The second year, the staff had a much better understanding of how each piece of the PLC fit together, as well as the purpose. The waitlist reversed in one year as families began talking about the culture that was being created. During in-service we focused on our Mission, Vision, and Collective Commitments. We continued our partnership and continued to work the #2Schools1Goal plan. This collaboration benefitted both schools because they were getting different things out of the time together. They were truly learning from each other.
Busbee Creative Arts Academy has a tight knit staff that values its relationships with families and the community. In August of each year, teachers and staff meet together to discuss the school’s mission statement, vision statement, and collective beliefs. Busbee has a magnet arts program funded by the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) grant and Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) grant, which allow us to offer arts programs in dance, theater, visual arts, orchestra, guitar, band, and chorus. An Arts Steering Committee composed of teachers, parents, and community members meet throughout the year to discuss how the funds should and will be used to best serve our students. In addition, we have a School Improvement Council (SIC) and Title 1 committee that include parents from all grade levels, teachers, and community members. This committee helps create the school’s strategic plan and determine how to best use Title 1 funds to create an equitable learning environment.
Outside of our school committees, families and the community are regularly involved in school activities throughout the year such as our annual Open House and Family Night as well as arts performances. Teams hold regular parent conferences and work to be flexible to parent schedules and stay in regular communication with parents through email, phone calls, text messages, and BrightArrow messages.
Each morning our principal sends out a daily email to staff with important information and positive remarks. She also sends a weekly call-out to parents in English and Spanish and regularly posts on our social media with updates for families. The administration team regularly has classroom walk-throughs and can be seen in the hallway during transitions and monitoring students at lunch and recess. Weekly grade-level meetings are held with our instructional coaches to discuss data and effective instructional strategies. Weekly team meetings create a collaborative environment and supports our belief that we are all responsible for student success. Content partners are expected to collaborate together to plan and administer common assessments. Our daily bell schedule has a built-in time for remediation. Students work in small groups on essential standards and students not in need of remediation have a study hall or enrichment class. These are fluid groups depending on student needs. Students can also get academic help during Lunch Learning Center (LLC) and after school tutoring.
Through all of these programs and opportunities, Busbee Creative Arts Academy takes a targeted approach to meeting the needs of all students and staff. Consistency in daily routines and procedures provide all staff the opportunity to collaborate, reflect, and lead which is integral in building a culture of continuous improvement. Hall of Famer Bo Schembelcher once stated, “Every day you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same.” This is a mantra that Busbee believes is important to put into action everyday to continue to grow as educators, a school, and a school community.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
In Lexington School District Two, district cohorts are a collaborative effort that allow teachers from all schools to work together to create and implement a viable curriculum for all Lex2 students. During this time Busbee teachers meet with the other middle school teachers to discuss unit plans and resources that were developed during summer planning; all cohorts are sorted by grade-level content subject. The work for cohorts however begins over summer. During the summer months, groups of district teachers identify priority standards for each content. Once these standards are prioritized, teams begin unpacking the standards to identify exactly what students need to demonstrate mastery and to be prepared for the next grade level. This collaborative effort provides the foundation for teachers to create common units as well as common formative assessments. Based on the standards that were identified as priority and unpacked, lesson progression documents were created. Regardless of which middle school the students in the district attend, all students are guaranteed to be taught the same curriculum; a strategy that helps when students transfer from school to school. Teachers have freedom to use the instructional strategies that they feel best fits their classes all the while ensuring that students are taught the same standards during the same time frame. During district cohorts, teachers also create common summative and formative assessments. These assessments provide teachers the opportunity to analyze and discuss data to determine what content needs to be retaught and what areas additional focus should take place in the future. Cohorts allow teachers to share different instructional strategies and implement them for the benefit of all students.
At Busbee Creative Arts Academy content partnerships are established to help teachers plan and collaborate lessons and assessments. Using district pacing guides and unit plans, teachers ensure that the district curriculum is being taught using instructional strategies and resources that are best for the students at our school. Additionally, instructional coaches are present to help facilitate, prepare, or execute lessons and support teachers throughout the planning process. Busbee’s instructional coaches are instrumental in data collection and analysis which help identify areas of strength and growth.
At the end of each unit, common summative assessments are given which help measure success for all students. The data collected from these assessments help all content teachers from Busbee and our neighboring middle schools plan school-wide RTI. At Busbee, students are placed in varying Tier 2 RTI cycles based on the results of these unit assessments. Math is fluid and can change week to week; Tier 2 RTI for English Language Arts is a three week cycle of skill review. Additionally, the data taken from the summative assessments are used to revise and plan for the next school year.
Lexington School District Two uses the TACA (Teacher Analysis of Common Assessments) form to monitor student learning on a regular basis. The TACA form allows teachers to reflect on data from the district unit plans and pacing guides. The form is designed to provide teachers time to reflect on what was learned from formative assessment data given during a specific unit of study. On the TACA form, teachers give the SMART goals, essential standards, and supporting standards from the unit. Teachers also reflect on the number of students who do not meet, approach, meet, or exceed in each category of the data. After reflecting on the number of students, teachers think about what they can do to help the students move from one proficiency level to the next. Teachers look at what students did not master the essential standards in the unit, and determine how to provide extra time and support for unlearned skills.
In addition to determining which students need intervention, Busbee teachers also look at which students need extension opportunities. Content partners also use the data taken from the TACA form to determine which instructional strategies are most effective and what strategies need to be modified or adjusted. Lastly, based on the data, teachers determine whether edits need to be made to the formative assessment before it is given the following year.
In addition to using the TACA form, teachers and their content partners meet weekly with instructional coaches. With the instructional coaches, teachers discuss content that is being taught each week in accordance with the district pacing guide. These conversations provide a time for teachers to ask questions, brainstorm ideas, or discuss teaching strategies. Additionally, teachers and instructional coaches look at the data from assessments given each week which also provides valuable information. Informally, content partners meet daily to monitor and adjust weekly lesson plans based on how pacing and student understanding is going during the week.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
At Busbee Creative Arts Academy, RTI is an essential part of our school day. We are firm believers in reteaching material to those in need, but also in providing extension activities to those who have shown mastery of skills. Our RTI program, Bulldog Breakout, allows students to participate in unique areas of interest at school. Students are able to choose from a wide variety of extension activities, with different opportunities being offered every morning. Bulldog Breakout sessions are 35 minutes long each day where students are able to engage with unique experiences including STEAM opportunities. STEAM is a relatively new, but growing, program at Busbee where students have the opportunity to build models, explore cultures through virtual reality, and experiment with new technology devices such as Ozobots and 3-D printing. Additionally, students can use their extension time to strengthen skill in the arts with additional rehearsal time with their arts instructors; for those students who want a quiet place to study or get ahead, study hall is also offered as an extension activity.
For students who have not mastered their academic skills, Bulldog Breakout is used for reteaching within a specific content. Through Tier 2 as well as Tier 3 intervention, students are provided the opportunity to improve and grow their knowledge of skills needed to be successful in a specific content. Intervention groups are coordinated among grade-level teams, targeted to specific skills, and rotate regularly. ELA and Math each have priority weeks to choose students who may need intervention in both subjects. Teams meet weekly and determine which students need Tier 2 intervention. Typically math is fluid and can change from week to week. ELA groups are three week rotations. Essential skills were identified and binders were created with resources that target each of the skills. Typically in ELA Tier 2 groups, a pretest and a posttest is given to show student mastery of the essential skill that is being focused on during that rotation. Formative or summative assessment data is used to form Tier 2 RTI groups.
Students are also supported through before- and after-school tutoring opportunities. Lexington School District Two also provides the Lex 2.5 afterschool program to support students. Students' STAR data is used to determine skills they need to grow in Lex 2.5. Students needing extra math support complete additional practice on Dreambox. Students needing extra reading support use the Scholastic Literature Camp.
Students at Busbee are given several extension opportunities such as weekly book clubs where students are given choice in the books they want to read. The standards aligned with the district unit plan that are taught in the ELA classrooms are tied in with standards that are being targeted in weekly book clubs. Lastly, students are able to engage the community through programs like “Letters to a Pre-Scientist “where students create relationships through pen pals all over the world.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
At Busbee Creative Arts Academy, teachers and staff place a heavy focus on collaboration. Teachers meet with content partners and instructional coaches each week to reflect on the previous week and to plan for the upcoming week. One point of emphasis is to consistently highlight the essential standards that will be covered in upcoming lessons. In addition to planning, these meetings allow teachers to review common formative and summative assessment assessment data. The data analysis and review provides an opportunity to discuss and implement best practices.
At Busbee, collaboration does not start and end with content teachers and coaches. Busbee is an Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) school, and fine arts teachers also collaborate with content teachers to implement arts-infused lessons in content classes. These lessons provide students an opportunity to showcase their artistic ability while providing peers a different lens to learn and master state standards. The fine arts and related arts teachers collaborate regularly to showcase the arts through performances hosted at the school. Although arts teachers do not have a content partner to plan with, all showcases and performances are considered a collaborative project involving all team members.
To engage and support diverse learning, Busbee offers monthly professional development led by the district multilanguage (ML) coaches. The coaches provide the staff with strategies that content teachers can implement to help engage ML students. These strategies also provide students the opportunity to connect more with the curriculum and help build their confidence in learning. Teachers also work closely with the school’s ML teacher to make sure ML students are receiving necessary support to be successful in their classes. With a growing ML population, the Busbee administration believes that ongoing professional development for ML learners is vital to the success of a more diverse student population.
At Busbee Creative Arts Academy, grade level teacher teams are an integral part of the PLC process. Each grade-level team has a team leader who facilitates weekly meetings where teachers update each other on their assessment schedules for the upcoming week. These meetings also provide a time for teams to discuss students who are in need of extra support, then placing them in RTI groups. Additionally, each department has a lead teacher or department head who attends district meetings and keeps their department informed on information provided by the district. Department heads make sure the teachers have the materials and resources needed for each unit.
With a state-wide teacher shortage and so many teachers leaving the profession, Busbee believes it is important to support, grow, and retain new teachers. Support for new teachers includes hosting a new teacher orientation before the start of the school year in order to help teachers prepare for the start of the year while providing them access to resources and school procedures. The goal of the new orientation is to help teachers feel comfortable and less anxious about the start of their career. Additionally, each new teacher has a teacher-mentor who can assist with providing support, resources, and advice as new teachers navigate through their first year. Lastly, the school’s administration takes pride in meeting regularly with new teachers to answer questions or concerns they are facing. Along with the instructional coaches, Busbee feels that they can provide a level of support for new teachers that other schools may not.
Achievement Data Files
Initial Designation as a Schools to Watch by the National Form Advancing Excellence in the Middle Grades- 2021
Arts Certified School since 2016
SC Palmetto Siver Award- 2019