Bear Branch Intermediate School (2023)

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

In the summer of 2019, a new administrative team assembled at Bear Branch Intermediate School.  Having come together from a variety of campuses within Magnolia ISD, this team shared an understanding of the vision for teaching and learning in the district.  Attendance and participation in the Solution Tree PLC at Work conference, by this group of leaders, ignited a drive to become a living, breathing PLC ensuring high levels of learning for all students, with a focus on results.

This leadership team was granted a gift, the gift of time. Forty-five minutes of collaborative planning had already been built into the master schedule for math, reading/language arts, science, and social studies, in addition to the traditional conference period. This provided an avenue to have conversations as to how the PLC process could be embedded into the school day. The looming question was, “Who is best suited to join the task force and facilitate the collaborative work ahead?” Establishing relationships with the teaching staff was a priority with the administrative team. One-on-one conversations, team meetings, and faculty meetings, were all contributing factors in selecting facilitators to lead the charge in PLCs. During a summer planning session, facilitators were appointed, debriefed regarding the highlights of the PLC conference, and given the charge to focus on collaboration. As the school year and team planning gets underway during the 2019-2020 school year, challenges began to arise due to processes that were not clearly defined, such as determining what to teach, for how long, and how to assess what was learned. The “15 Day Challenge” began to provide guidance and protocols to answer these challenges. Administrators, facilitators, and teachers attended the “15 Day Challenge” training and brought the process back to their teams. No longer was it acceptable to meet for 45 minutes a day in a common location to discuss lesson plans. Teams were expected to determine which standards were essential for student success. Then to deconstruct these standards in deep (and sometimes heated conversations) regarding the meaning of the cognitive verb for student learning, and what must be taught to ensure deep understanding. Creation of common formative assessments began, with a focus on the most important content, followed by valid summative assessments. The PLC process was beginning to bloom at Bear Branch.
Then… everything halted in March of 2020. Teams continued to meet and plan via Zoom. They worked together to ensure that all students were continuing to learn, but the deep process of the PLC was not at the forefront of planning as it had been. The focus had shifted to ensuring students had access to the curriculum.
The fall of the 2020-2021 school year provided hope for getting back on track. While the opening of the school year was virtual, the faculty was back on campus with a focus on deep student learning. This began with the administrative team and facilitators engaging in a book study. The book chosen was, Help Your Team. This study was a way to focus in on engaging all team members in the PLC process and addressing setbacks that occurred during the 2019-2020 school year. Mid-September of 2021, Magnolia ISD opened and welcomed all students back to on-campus learning. Teachers and students needed time to establish relationships and redefine campus procedures. After a month of settling in, the work began again. Teachers visited classrooms with intention. Higher level questioning, thoughtful student conversations, and rigorous activities were a focus. Using the information and data gleaned from the walk-throughs, BBI developed a Teaching and Learning Committee. The focus was to bring high yield teaching strategies to classrooms. A BBI Instructional and Behavioral Playlist was developed as a minimum expectation for all.
In January 2021, virtual learning moved from optional to a case-by-case basis. The majority of students were learning in person. The PLC process at Bear Branch was fully re-ignited. Students required specific instruction, teachers needed explicit guidance/expectations, and facilitators were hungry to get back on track. The campus Academic Coordinator developed a PLC Checklist to guide the rebuilding of collaborative teams to address these needs that included instruction, assessment, interventions, and extensions. BBIS was back on track! At the conclusion of the 2021 school year the facilitators and administrators agreed that further learning in the PLC process was imperative. Signing up for the PLC at Work conference was a must. The virtual conference could only enhance the instruction and learning in classrooms during the upcoming school year.
Summer of 2021 began with a facilitator retreat with a goal of creating a campus mission statement. Trust in each other to have meaningful conversations was developed through team building activities, and a mission statement was born. The mission became the guiding principle for the work ahead at BBI. Taking Action was the book study focus for the team for this new school year. Biweekly meetings led to healthy discussions about “next steps” for the campus. Facilitators took their knowledge from the book study back to their teams. Flexible grouping and recognizing the importance of a shared responsibility of learning for all students grew from this shared understanding. By January 2022, teams were using flexible grouping regularly to address intervention and enrichment needs of every student.

 Twelve participants from BBI attended the PLC at Work Conference in San Antonio, Texas in July of 2022 to more deeply understand the importance of collaboration. Individual take-aways from the conference came together during the annual facilitator retreat in tight and loose expectations for all faculty. Included in the Tight & Loose expectations were the use of an Agenda Template for collaborative meetings, flexible group instruction between formative and summative assessments, and engaging teaching strategies. These were in addition to expectations that had been developed over the past three years and became “the way we do things at BBI”. As the 2022-2023 school year progressed, teams began searching out answers for analyzing data, recording effective teaching strategies, alternative methods to deconstruct TEKS, and efficient ways to build assessments. Those who attended the summer conference began working together to fulfill these requests. While these tools are considered “loose”, we have found these resources to be essential in discussions regarding student learning. To continue growing in our knowledge of PLCs, facilitators and eager volunteers participated in the book study, Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work.

The PLC process is a living, breathing process. Throughout the school year, teachers and staff will struggle. They may want to revert to previous instructional philosophies, find alternatives that save time, or new and exciting prospects that promise immediate results. It is easy to be distracted by all of these options. At BBIS we refuse to be distracted and embrace the research based PLC process. Each year we are committed to taking faculty members to the PLC at Work Conference to build capacity. Building on new found learning, our tight and loose expectations will be revisited to ensure that they are inline with the PLC process and our campus mission statement. Understanding the importance of flexible grouping between formative and summative assessments, the master schedule will be re-evaluated with the intention of building in time for flexible groups as a part of the daily schedule. With time specifically allotted for intervention and enrichment, developing reliable data protocols to efficiently and effectively review student learning will continue. The Teaching and Learning Committee will continue to support our educators by sharing and modeling effective teaching strategies. The team facilitators will continue to focus on collaboration by leading PLC best practices. BBI Administration will support all staff in the PLC process by providing opportunities. Book studies, time for collegial observations, meaningful feedback, and deep conversations will be embedded throughout the school year. Through our journey in the PLC process we will never lose sight of high levels of learning for all students with a focus on results. 




1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Bear Branch Intermediate we have allotted time in our master schedule for a protected 45 minute team planning period for the core subjects everyday. This is in addition to the teacher’s conference period. During this time teams come together to create a guaranteed and viable curriculum that is implemented throughout the school day. 

The PLC Checklist is our guiding document for teams to ensure that the planning time is used effectively. The process of curriculum development starts with deconstructing the essential standards. How teams go about the deconstruction may vary from team to team, but the expectation is non-negotiable. Moving beyond “what is nice to know” to “our students must be proficient in” is the goal of this process. Analyzing verbs, key vocabulary, and prior knowledge required are included and documented as they begin to plan with the end goal in mind. 

Four critical questions focus teams as they walk through the PLC Checklist:

  1. What do we want all students to know and do?

  2. How will we know if they learn it?

  3. How will we respond when some students do not understand the information?

  4. How will we extend student learning for those who are already proficient?

Summative and formative assessments are then created and scheduled. To ensure that these assessments are inline with the deconstructed standards, all team members quantify the questions identifying the number and depth of knowledge so that they accurately measure student understanding. Once that is complete a pacing guide follows. As the team embeds activities and materials, rigor and higher level thinking is a critical component. In addition, teams plan for interventions and extensions keeping in mind common misconceptions. Interventions and extensions are then purposefully scheduled following the common formative assessment and the summative. This deep planning process ensures that the curriculum is viable and learning is guaranteed for all students at high levels.  


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

Monitoring student learning is embedded within the pacing guide for each unit. Daily activities include spot checks for student learning.  These spot checks are frequent and allow for teachers to adjust small group instruction on a daily basis providing students with timely feedback and intervention. Within 48 hours of a formative assessment, teams meet to analyze the data. The principal, assistant principal, and academic coordinator are included in the data talks to guide, support, and celebrate successes with teams. The data analysis is more than just an overview of pass/fail. It is closely reviewing the campus as a whole, subpopulations, and each individual child. This information is used to create flexible groups for interventions and extensions of students learning and implemented as outlined in the pacing guide. Data review occurs following summative assessments as well. Teams are not only evaluating the data for every student and subpopulation, they are comparing it to the data from the formative assessment looking for growth. This provides guidance for who continues to need intervention in the standard assessed and who is ready to move on or extend their learning. As an extension of the data review, an analysis of the assessments and teaching practices occurs to plan for future instruction.


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

Building teacher capacity to work as high-performing collaborative teams has been a project over time.  Focusing on the right people in the right seats on the proverbial bus, book studies for ongoing learning, teacher led professional development, and continued attendance at the PLC at work conference has provided the momentum needed for progress.  

Each year, beginning with the spring of 2020, the principal conducts a one-on-one meeting with each team facilitator to discuss challenges and progress experienced during the school year.  Using this insight, adjustments are made to the upcoming year’s facilitator lineup to ensure the needs of the team are being met and that the collective commitment towards becoming a professional learning community is a focus. 

Summertime is used to broaden the campus understanding of the PLC by engaging in the PLC at Work conference.  Each year, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023, a new group of teachers is selected to attend the conference with the goal that eventually every single teacher in our building will have attended. Strengthening the  shared knowledge and understanding of professional learning communities has directly impacted student achievement. 

In addition to summertime learning, our campus teachers and administrators engage in book studies to maintain a heightened focus on our continued professional growth. In 2020-2021, facilitators and administrators read and studied Help Your Team.  This aided in our realignment to the PLC process after the pandemic interruption. The book, Taking Action, in 2021-2022 made a lasting impact on our teams as we engaged in bi-weekly readings and deep discussions surrounding the importance of addressing questions 3 and 4; 3. What will you do when they don’t learn it?, 4. What will you do when they do learn it?. Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work has been read in 2022-2023 and has provided a deeper look into our “why” and “how” across the campus.  

During the 2021-2022 school year, a group of BBI educators came together as the Teaching & Learning Committee with a focus on teacher-led professional development of high-yield teaching strategies.  Creating opportunities for collegial learning monthly and increasing access to resources of research-based instructional delivery methods, this team made professional learning a priority. Teacher-led professional development continued through 2022-2023, including the implementation of beginning of the year professional development with breakout sessions that included teacher choice paired with some required sessions.    

Along with professional learning, teachers are encouraged to participate in one or more campus committees each school year.  Teachers, administrators, and others team up to use each other’s strengths to drive improved student learning, promote ongoing professional development, ensure the campus calendar protects instructional time, problem-solve campus concerns, and to maintain a commitment to a collaborative culture focused on high levels of learning for all students. Below is a list of just some of the committees that promote these efforts at BBI:

  • Site Based Decision Making Committee

  • Team Facilitators

  • Department Chairs

  • Foundations Committee

  • Attendance Committee

  • Teaching & Learning Committee

  • Student Intervention Team 

  • PLC Task Force

  • Crisis Safety Team

  • Parent Teacher Organization

  • Administrative Team

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

A new administration and faculty came to BBI in 2019. The baseline STAAR data showed that BBI was well above the state average in most areas. During the 2019-2020 school year everything ceased and went to virtual learning. Students did not participate in summative assessments that showed learning throughout the school year. Formal assessments ceased, and learning was based on participation and accessing the curriculum. In 2020-2021 learning slowly resumed from virtual, to hybrid, to fully present, as the year progressed. State and district assessments reflected this progression, especially in the underserved populations of Emergent Bilingual, Special Education, and Economically Disadvantaged.   

Our continuous focus to grow as a professional learning community has had a significant and direct impact on the growth on our underserved populations of Emergent Bilinguals, Special Education, and Economically Disadvantaged. 31% of 5th grade Emergent Bilingual students obtained meet or exceeded proficiency on their 2019 Reading STAAR test. While that number dropped due to virtual and hybrid in the following year, the percentage has risen to 44% in 2021-2022 and continues to show progress this year on district and interim assessments. Similarly, we have seen growth on all three underserved populations in the 6th Grade Reading STAAR achievement data, with an increase of 11% of Special Education students, 19% of Emergent Bilingual students, and 13% of Economically Disadvantaged students meeting or exceeding proficiency in the last four years. As BBI hones in on the PLC process and implementation with fidelity, we anticipate these positive trends to continue.

Descritpion of Assessments:

DCA 1, 2, 3: District Common Assessments are developed collaboratively among content teachers and content directors with a focus on commonly identified essential standards to assess the cumulative learning of students through a nine week grading period.  DCA 1 is the District Common Assessment for the first nine week grading period, DCA 2 is the District Common Assessment for the second nine week grading period, and DCA 3 is the District Common Assessment for the third nine week grading period.

Interim 1, 2State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Interim assessments are produced at the state level as an optional, online assessment to assist educators in monitoring student progress and to predict student performance on STAAR. Intereim assessments are aligned the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade level and content area. 



UIL Prose- 6th grade: 2nd, 3rd and 4th place

UIL Ready Writing- 5th Grade: 2nd place, 6th Grade: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place

UIL Number Sense- 6th grade: 2nd, 5th and 6th place

UIL Chess Puzzle- 5th grade: 1st place, 6th grade: 1st and 6th place

UIL Music Memory- 5th grade: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, 6th grade: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place

UIL Art- 5th grade 2nd place, 6th grade: 1st and 2nd place

UIL Social Studies- 6th grade: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place

Magnolia Education Foundation Grant Winners- Library and SciTech

Secondary PLC of the Month - October, for Magnolia ISD - 6th gr. Science Team

Secondary PLC of the Month - February, for Magnolia ISD - 5th gr. RLA Team

Secondary PLC of the Month - April, for Magnolia ISD - 5th gr. Science Team


UIL Poetry- 5th Grade: 1st, 2nd and 4th place, 6th Grade: 1st Place

UIL Prose- 6th grade: 2nd, 3rd and 4th place

UIL Ready Writing- 5th grade: 1st, 3rd and 4th place, 6th grade: 1st, 2nd and 5th place

UIL Number Sense- 5th grade: 1st, 3rd and 6th place, 6th grade: 3rd place

UIL Chess Puzzle- 5th grade: 4th and 5th place, 6th grade 2nd and 3rd place

UIL Music Memory- 5th grade: 1st, 2nd and 4th place, 6th grade: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place

UIL Spelling- 5th grade: 2nd and 3rd place

UIL Listening Skills- 6th grade 2nd and 3rd place

UIL Art- 5th grade 1st and 4th place, 6th grade: 1st

UIL Social Studies- 5th grade: 1st, 4th and 5th place, 6th grade: 3rd place

District Teacher of the Year

Magnolia Education Foundation Grant winners: Counselors, Tech Apps, Life Skills 



Magnolia Education Foundation Grant winners: Tech Apps and 6th grade Science



Magnolia Education Foundation Grant winners: Tech Apps, 5th grade Language Arts, 6th grade Language Arts and 6th grade Math

District Rookie of the Year