Snow Canyon High School (2023)
- Number of Students: 1,237
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 31.6%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 6.1%
- Percent of Special Education: 10.7%
- White: 70.2%
- Black: 1.3%
- Hispanic: 22.8%
- Asian: 0.9%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1.8%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 3%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 0%
***PROMISING PRACTICES SCHOOL***
In 2020, Snow Canyon High School (SCHS) experienced a leadership transition and utilized this time to examine its current reality. A new administration and leadership team formed to have crucial conversations about student achievement, school goals, and school culture. After some collective reflection, the leadership team identified the current reality, the desired reality, and the necessary steps to move from the former to the latter. Snow Canyon High School is currently on a path of continuous improvement where reflection, collaboration, and improvement plans are becoming common practice among teams, departments, and the school overall.
In 2015 SCHS attempted to provide all students with more time, targeted interventions, and high levels of learning by changing from a 4x4 bell schedule to a 5x5 bell schedule. Along with adding an additional class to the schedule each day (and, consequently, reducing the instructional time available in each class), SCHS introduced “lab classes.” The concept behind labs was to give students the opportunity to select a class aligned with a core area where they were struggling or needed additional support -- English Lab, Math Lab, Science Lab, AP Lab, CE Lab, etc.
Unfortunately, this structural change brought with it some major unintended consequences. First of all, attempting to schedule students for a lab class with their desired teacher became nearly impossible. Second, students selecting lab classes did not always need targeted interventions, yet they were enrolled for the full year. Third, other students who did not select lab classes often did need targeted interventions, and teachers had to figure out a time in which to provide those. Fourth, the reduced instructional time in the remainder of the classes created major problems for the teachers to be able to teach the required material within the given time.
These unintended consequences ultimately led to a decline in student achievement from 2015-2020. This decline was demonstrated through state test scores, ACT scores, and individual class pass rates. SCHS student achievement consistently dropped each year from 2015-2020. Additionally, the lab classes became difficult to manage because students who did not need or want an intervention stopped attending and the failure rates of the lab classes skyrocketed.
By 2020 many faculty members had grown exasperated with the 5x5 bell schedule, lab classes, reduced instructional time, and declining student performance. During the 2020-2021 school year, Snow Canyon experienced a leadership transition. Upon the arrival of a new principal and assistant principal, the faculty immediately began inquiring about the possibility of changing the bell schedule back to the pre-existing 4x4 bell schedule.
Before making any abrupt changes, the new administrative team decided it would be best to create a leadership team (guiding coalition), observe the goings on in the school, identify the current reality, and then set goals for a desired reality (School Mission and Collective Commitments). For the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year, the administration and faculty collected data regarding the efficacy of the 5x5 schedule and the lab classes. Along with student performance data, the leadership team also surveyed teachers, students, and parents to determine the perception of the effectiveness of the 5x5 bell schedule.
The findings were quite apparent. Students appreciated the 5x5 schedule because it led to a faster accumulation of credits and allowed a higher volume of free periods during senior year, yet students also expressed frustration with the lack of time available in class to receive help from teachers. Parents of high-achieving kids enjoyed the 5x5 schedule because it allowed their students to take every AP and CE course, but other parents were ambivalent. Teachers despised the 5x5 schedule because it increased their student and course loads, preparation requirements, and reduced instructional time. The prevailing sentiment was that teachers were spending their time “water-skiing” over their content when they preferred to “scuba-dive.” Ultimately, all stakeholders, either directly or through implication, identified student learning issues with the existing schedule.
The leadership team faced daunting challenges:
How can SCHS increase instructional time?
How can SCHS increase learning opportunities for seniors by reducing free periods?
How can SCHS provide more time for teachers to intervene with their own students -- all of whom may or may not need interventions at any given time?
How can SCHS provide opportunities for students to learn at higher levels?
Building a Collaborative Culture Centered on Student Learning
After a year of data collection, the leadership and administrative teams met together to create a proposal for a new bell schedule. A return to the previous schedule was off the table because the previously utilized 4x4 schedule did not provide systematic interventions to students in need. The leadership team decided to switch back to a 4x4 bell schedule while building intervention periods into Mondays and Thursdays, ensuring that every week an A-day and a B-day received intervention time. The administrative team presented this change to the district executive committee and the school board, also presenting the data collected from the previous year as justification for the drastic change.
The change was approved and the final step was determining where in the day to provide interventions. The leadership team presented multiple proposals to the faculty and called for a vote. A majority of teachers voted to put the intervention between 3rd and 4th periods while leaving the students in their third-period class unless requested -- limiting the overall movement within the school and reducing the risk of students leaving the building during intervention time. A Snow Canyon High School mantra is that students should strive every day to “Touch Gold” and therefore the intervention time was named “Touch Gold Time.”
Additionally, the leadership team worked with a third party to build an intervention request system. Teachers can request students for intervention time throughout the week. The leadership team identified priority days for specific content areas and trained the teachers to collaborate with each other when multiple teachers need the same students. The ultimate goal is that teachers begin to see all students at Snow Canyon as “our students” instead of “my students” or “your students.” With the current intervention system, this is beginning to take place.
After settling on a new bell schedule, the leadership team immediately began addressing the need to refine the school mission statement and create collective commitments. Administrators, teacher leaders, and teachers all understood that if the only thing that happened with the bell schedule change was a change of when the bell rang and not an accompanying change of practice, this whole exercise would be a failure.
A full faculty professional learning activity was conducted where teacher teams deconstructed the existing school mission and identified the crucial aspects that needed to stay and any missing components. After this activity, the leadership and administrative teams identified commonalities between what the teacher teams identified. Subsequently, the leadership team created five different variations of a school mission. The faculty voted on the variations and offered additional suggestions. The final outcome is a school mission statement to which we refer when making any decisions throughout the school:
Our Mission is to create a student-centered community focused on learning, growth, and excellence for ALL.
The leadership team followed a similar process to create collective commitments:
At SCHS, we commit to:
Focus on the academic and overall well-being of our students.
Identify, teach, assess, intervene, and extend essential standards.
Intentionally engage in a continuous cycle of improvement and learning.
Differentiate, accommodate, and adapt instruction based on student needs.
Provide multiple opportunities to practice and demonstrate proficiency.
Use data, reflection, and collaboration to drive decision-making.
Engage stakeholders in the learning process.
We are now in year two with a new bell schedule, school mission, and collective commitments. These changes have dramatically shifted the culture at SCHS as routine conversations now center around student learning, reflecting on current practices, and planning for improvement. This happens weekly through the collaboration that occurs throughout the school. Along with our bell schedule change, the district also introduced additional collaboration time with early-out Fridays. Students leave the building at noon on Fridays and teachers have until 3:15 to collaborate. SCHS has created a systematic collaboration schedule:
1st Friday -- Full Faculty Professional Learning
2nd Friday -- Team/Department/District Collaboration
3rd Friday -- Team/Department Collaboration
4th Friday -- Team/Department/District Collaboration
Aside from the first Friday where the whole faculty meets together, the remaining Fridays are dedicated to team or department collaboration. The second and fourth Fridays are also dedicated to district collaboration, where our singleton teachers can meet with teachers from other high schools in the area who teach the same content.
We are seeing the development and implementation of some very promising practices throughout our school, including:
Teacher teams share students during Touch Gold Time to provide interventions and extensions to those in need.
Teacher teams align their curriculum to accurately teach and assess essential standards.
Our AP Language and Composition teachers identified the underrepresentation of students of color in their classes and began a recruitment program to increase representation -- in 4 years of recruiting the representation of students of color in AP Lang and Comp has increased from 9% to 25% (schoolwide representation is 30%).
The vast majority of our students requested for “Touch Gold Time” attend the intervention and receive the help they need.
Students who are not requested for intervention are expressing appreciation for the additional time to complete assignments, homework, or de-stress.
There is still work to be done at Snow Canyon High School, there always is as education is an infinite journey without a destination. However, the progress we have made over the past three years has allowed us to free ourselves of the quicksand known as the “status quo” or the disease of “good enough,” and begin making improvements. Our initial improvements are leading to more improvements, which then lead to even more improvements. Snow Canyon High School can confidently say it is engaged in a continuous cycle of improvement.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
The Collective Commitments constructed by the leadership team at Snow Canyon High School are centered around student learning. By committing to prioritizing student learning, SCHS has embarked on a cultural shift to move away from “point-chasing” and toward clarity on what students know and are able to do. This cultural shift is not happening overnight, and progress is more apparent in some areas than in others, but the conversations within the school are now centered around how to improve student learning and what changes need to happen in order to improve student learning.
The cultural shifts are happening throughout the school on multiple levels. The school leadership has engaged in structural shifts conducive to an emphasis on learning instead of earning points. Some examples of this include overhauling the bell schedule to provide more time for tier 1 instructions and interventions, dedicated time for schoolwide tier 2 interventions, and regular meeting times for an intervention team to discuss the tier 3 students.
Team collaboration meetings are where the theoretical shifts are happening throughout the school. Teams are working to improve the clarity of student expectations. As the teams become more clear, they are refining their essential standards, intervention practices, assessment strategies, and instructional techniques. Changing these practices is often a “two steps forward, one step back” experience as teachers attempting new strategies often encounter the implementation dip and are tempted to return to practices they view as “tried and true.” However, little by little, the challenging work of shifting the status quo away from a point-based transactional reward system and to a student-led, self-assessed, learning environment is happening.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Snow Canyon High School embarked on a systematic overhaul of the daily bell schedule in order to provide strategic, targeted interventions to students in need. During the 2021-2022 school year, SCHS changed from a 5x5 bell schedule with 65-minute classes to a 4x4 bell schedule with 80-minute classes, along with two targeted intervention periods per week.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
The high performing collaborative teams at Snow Canyon High School focus their efforts on improving student learning by continually seeking to perfect the PLC process. First, teams frequently meet and collaborate in order to identify essential standards. Next, the teams clarify their expectations for student performance and learning. Then the teams create and deliver instruction, utilizing high-leverage techniques aimed at specific learning targets. Teams also strive to create effective success criteria for students, in order to help students be able to identify their own progress and pathway moving forward. Additionally, teams utilize curriculum maps and pacing guides in order to teach the same content in similar time frames and then assess student performance through CFAs. Teams use the data from the CFAs to calibrate instruction and identify successes and areas of need. The CFA data also helps teams identify specific intervention needs and high-performing teams even share students in order to give all students an opportunity to learn at a high level. Ultimately, this process is something with which teams are continuously striving to improve, and while we know teams will never “arrive” at the perfect execution of the PLC process, the consistency with which teams approach perfection is steadily increasing.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
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Snow Canyon High School has been selected by the Washington County School District to be a Digital Transformation School. We will be a part of a select group that will pioneer, utilize, create, and innovate new educational technologies to help further the work of the PLC process. We were selected based on our demonstration of a continuous cycle of inquiry and improvement.