Viking Elementary (2023)

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

The School District of Holmen has been engaging in the work of building a PLC culture for many years.  Unfortunately, in recent years we discovered that our district was participating in "PLC light".  With a relatively new team of school administrators and district leadership, we determined that Holmen needed a significant PLC "reboot."

We began by taking all of our instructional leaders to the PLC at Work Institute during the summer of 2018.  During that institute and subsequent meetings, we formulated a five year plan to elevate the PLC culture in Holmen.  We began with making sure that our whole district understood the “why” of PLC and our need to do better for our students.  Tim Brown helped us launch our journey with a full day staff development followed the next year by Julie Schmidt to help us focus on making sure that “all means all” in the School District of Holmen.  We were then able to bring in Dr. Muhammad for the next two years to work with our teaching staff and to provide leadership development for our instructional leaders. Dr. Richard Dewey also worked with our instructional leaders and Guiding Coalition Team as he introduced us to The PLC Road Map: Benchmarking the Right Work. We also sent teams of teacher leaders from each building to the PLC Institute each summer to continue building capacity.  Most recently we have shifted into coaching for our instructional leaders and guiding coalition teams with the help of Heather Frizelle and Eric Twadell.  

The reboot of our PLC Culture has led to substantial changes in practice at Viking Elementary.  Through a shared focus on improved student outcomes, the Guiding Coalition Team and building principal have helped to lead the Viking staff in development of strong systems of continuous improvement, of focus on data-driven decision making, and on embedded learning of best practices in instruction.  District staff development days, monthly early releases, and regular collaborative team meetings provided the foundation and time for teams to engage in highly impactful shared learning and decision making.

As a direct result of our collaboration with Solution Tree and the dedicated work of the Viking collaborative teams, our PLC culture is stronger than ever.  Not only do our teachers feel empowered to make instructional decisions that directly lead to improved student outcomes, but our students enjoy engaging and powerful lessons regardless of the classroom to which they belong.  While we still have work to do to ensure that every student reaches their full potential, we are confident that the practices we have built and our vision for all students in Holmen will continue to propel us on the journey.


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

In our district, at the elementary level, each content area has grade level committee teams that consist of classroom teachers and specialist teachers from across all four elementary buildings. These curricular teams work through curriculum cycles aligned to DPI (Department of Public Instruction) review cycles. During these curriculum cycles, teams work to unpack state grade level standards, select district priority standards, review curricular resources and assessments, and create a scaffolded scope and sequence for learning targets. The work that is done by these committees is shared out to the entire district staff through an Elementary Curriculum webpage so all educators can see the updates and understand the changes that are being made. This work is done in relation to student achievement and growth data from across the district elementary schools.  

Once a month our district holds an Early Release Day where students are dismissed two hours early. During this time, every other month, staff from across the district meet as grade level and specialist teams to discuss curriculum changes, improvements, and assessments. This allotted time ensures that curriculum is consistent across the district and is not varied from building to building. This process also helps to communicate curriculum changes to all staff so everyone is on the same page as changes and edits are being made each year to support student learning outcomes. 

In the opposite months, during Early Release time, building PLC teams have time to work on agenda items related to the four critical questions of the PLC process. Student data, instructional practices, Tier 2 and 3 groups, pacing, and assessments are reviewed, discussed, and updated to meet the needs of all students at the grade level. During this time specialist teachers are available to collaborate with teams and discuss student growth across various instructional settings. 

Throughout each academic year, grade level teams meet vertically with the grade level teams above and below them. These meetings help to ensure priority standards are being built upon from grade level to grade level, help all educators to understand the progression of learning within a strand of the standards and how skills are scaffolded from year to year. The meetings also ensure educators understand and align instructional strategies and develop common vocabulary around standards and learning targets. 

At Viking, for the past two years, each of our grade level PLC teams have created three or more 15-Day Challenges each year.  Two of these challenges needed to be in the area of Reading, since this has been our school-wide area of focus.  This process started by examining the priority standards that have been identified by the district curriculum committee teams, along with any provided summative assessments for each standard.  Grade level PLC teams then collectively created unit lessons with targeted instructional strategies to help progress students towards proficiency of the priority standards. Within this short cycle unit, teams created formative assessments and plans for Tier 2 instruction, along with enrichment activities, to track student progress throughout the 15 days. A representative from each grade level team then presented their team's15-Day Challenge at a Guiding Coalition meeting, in order, from Grades K through 5. This allowed members of our Guiding Coalition Team to see the progression of the standards and the skills needed to master them. At first, each member of the Guiding Coalition Team filled out feedback forms called “Grow and Glows." As both the Guiding Coalition Team members and grade level team members became more comfortable with the process, the feedback is now verbal and we can have quality discussions about the Challenges.

This year, each grade level team must use a Data Analysis Protocol to analyze and discuss their common formative assessments. They meet during their PLC time and fill out one of the protocols using their assessment data. During this process, the team has discussions around the four critical questions which ensure that all students’ academic needs are met in a well-planned and thought out manner. A member of each team then shares their Data Analysis Protocols and processes with the Guiding Coalition Team. Sharing with the Guiding Coalition Team also ensures accountability among grade level teams.


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

In order to create multi-tiered systems of support and provide students additional time and support for learning, Viking adopted data meetings and WINN Time (What I Need Now) approximately 8 years ago.  This system has been continually modified and improved over the years, with a greater focus on Tier 1/Universal over the past 5 years.  In more recent years, this has supported greater growth for all students.  Below is a listing of the many components supporting targeted instruction for students demonstrating specific needs. Our district RTI flowchart is uploaded as an attachment in the additional resources component of this application.

  • Early on in the process of monitoring student performance, Viking’s process has allowed for a collaborative meeting called the CST (Child Study Team), which involves the classroom teacher having access to building staff as a resource to brainstorm lower level supports based on individual student needs.

  • Data meetings are held after each benchmark period. Staff in attendance includes grade level classroom teachers, interventionists (reading specialists, math support, ESL teachers and special education teachers), the building principal, and school psychologist.

  • Viking’s master schedule is created with WINN times in mind to allow for the most resources to be available across each grade level’s allotted time and without disrupting Tier 1 instruction.

  • Tier 2 groups are formed, with classroom teachers supporting students with moderate level concerns, based on plans developed out of collaboration with building specialists.

  • Tier 3 intervention groups are determined and students falling below the 25th percentile are placed in research based interventions with trained specialists in their area of need.

  • Students’ growth in their intervention is monitored closely to determine the need for additional problem solving and if concerns persist, an EST (Educational Support Team) meeting is scheduled to meet with the parents and determine a plan of action.

  • Students who do not demonstrate adequate progress are placed into an intensive intervention and progress monitored weekly, with follow-up EST meetings with parents.

  • A parallel process exists for behavior as Viking staff understand the impact that behavior has on academic achievement and performance.

  • SEL has become a priority at Viking and a system is being implemented that matches best practices in RTI.

  • Our district Gifted and Talented program provides levels of service.  At the Tier Two Selected Enrichment level, learners are placed into programming groups to enhance and extend universal curriculum and further develop their abilities. At the Tier Three Targeted Enrichment/Advancement level, learners are placed into programming to accelerate, deepen, or supplant the universal curriculum and further develop their abilities. 

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

In an effort to build teacher capacity to support all student learning outcomes, Viking has taken part in a variety of district-wide initiatives through Solution Tree. In the past five years we have worked as a district alongside Dr. Richard Dewey, Dr. Anthony Muhammad, Julie Schmidt, and Tim Brown to train and support all staff, with an additional focus on supporting each building’s Guiding Coalition (GC) Team. This work has centered around the PLC Roadmap, Data Protocols, and the Plan, Do, Study, Act Process. Teams have developed and implemented PLC agendas, data discussion tools, and self assessments of the PLC at Work Continuum team to ensure students are making adequate progress through the academic year. 

At Viking we have worked to ensure that all grade levels and specialist areas are represented on our Guiding Coalition team. We have representatives from all six grade levels, special education, intervention/enrichment, related arts, and mutli-lingual teachers on the Guiding Coalition. As teams completed their 15-Day Challenges throughout the past two years, leaders have shared out the process and learning that has occurred within the Guiding Coalition team surrounding the four critical questions of the PLC. After each grade level presented, the GC fills out a "Grow and Glows" sheet to share feedback on the overall process the team went through in order to make improvements on the next cycle. The 15 Day Challenges have aligned with our school wide SLO each year. 

This past year our GC has focused on supporting grade level teams on using Data Protocols within PLC meetings to discuss student progress and next steps for student learning. Various Data Protocol tools were collected and shared out allowing teams to use the guide that would best suit their needs. Using Data Protocols  have strengthened the work of the PLC teams and provided staff with tools for a focused data discussion. The information gained from the data discussions is then used within each grade level to create Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention groups. 

Grade level and specialty area teams have daily common planning time built into the master schedule to allow authentic collaboration within the team to strengthen student learning outcomes. PLC teams meet consistently to plan instruction, create and review assessments, and analyze data. This common PLC time allows staff to share new instructional strategies and initiatives from their classroom which turns this collaborative approach into job-embedded professional development. 

School-Wide Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) have been created each year using the SMART goal format. These SLOs are created by looking back at the previous year’s achievement data and then selecting the area in most need of improvement. All classroom teachers and specialist teachers create individualized SLOs that match the building SLO each year to ensure targeted instruction and growth for all students. Three times per year, the principal meets with each team to discuss their goals, progress, student growth, and plans for improvement as relates to their SLO. In addition, each team fills out and reflects upon a collaborative self-assessment once or twice a year. Most recently we have used “The Professional Learning Communities at Work Continuum: Building Collaborative Culture Through High Performing Teams” assessment. One of our attachments is an example of the work we have done and continue to do as we reflect upon the functionality of our PLC groups.


1. Our last three three Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Report Card scores:

  • 2021-22--80.8 Exceeds Expectations
  • 2020-21--77.4 Exceeds Expectations
  • 2018-19--74.0 Exceeds Expectations

2. Wisconsin RtI Recognized School, Bronze Level for Behavior, 2021-2022

3. UW-LaCrosse Professional Development School Excellence Award for Supporting Early Childhood-Middle Childhood Field 1 Teacher Candidates, 2017