South Elementary (2023)
- Number of Students: 281
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 68%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 25%
- Percent of Special Education: 12%
- White: 65%
- Black: 0%
- Hispanic: 15%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 8%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 12%
South Elementary boasts positive culture and climate day in and day out. Collaboration at South Elementary has been a staple since 2011, but as we gained knowledge and experience with the PLC process our collaborative nature exploded into data-driven teams that are a force to be reckoned with!
Our school has always been filled with teachers who put students first. This collective group of teachers helps students move toward their goals, as these are not “my” students but “our” students at South School. Each grade level boasts a small number of only 2 to 3 teachers per grade level and our California-style campus, at times, makes it difficult to connect one grade level with another, but step onto our campus and you would never know it!
When we first officially dove into the PLC process, we began by identifying one staff member per grade level to serve on the PLC Guiding Coalition (GC). Teachers filled out an application to apply for building committee work that they were most passionate about. This team quickly became a close-knit collaborative group ready to tackle the next challenge and make South School the greatest place to be for students and staff. As the group began learning about the true PLC process it became clear that South was not only ready to dive in head first, but in fact had already unknowingly implemented some of the practices! The GC worked together by traveling to different seminars to get the best information and also visiting other PLC model schools to see what could be taken back immediately to help strengthen the collaborative teams at South.
After each training or observation, the GC would meet back together to debrief and create a plan of action to move forward. From there, this team would disperse and take back their ideas and learning to their own grade-level teams. South knows that communication and feedback are key to making the building run smoothly and promoting professional growth.
Through the past few years as we have grown in the PLC Process we have had a shift in our schools demographics in our English Language Learners, where we once employed one ELL teacher, we now employ two due to our numbers in this area almost doubling. This has created a dip in some of our data. We want to be culturally reponsible and inclusive to all students. We are working through trainings and collaborations to identify and use interventions and resources that help us identify learning targets these students need early as to provide the best instruction and intervention for these amazing young learners.
The South Elementary staff continuously worked towards adopting the "our kids vs. my kids" mentality by creating a sense of culture, working to create a school for "our kids", with the intense immersion of data, standards-based instruction, and accountability through goal setting (both individual and building-wide).
Data walls were created, data meetings occurred, and collaboration became a focus and requirement, a new master schedule was created based on a common plan time and allowing time for collaboration, and grade levels came together to decide on a few standards to make the focus and teachers were immersed in new professional learning.
Our instructional coach worked with each team to observe and do learning walks outside of our building. The goal for this time was to gain a common understanding of what high expectations and rigor looked like in action and where we wanted to go/be. Teams then worked to chart all of the characteristics of what a high-quality classroom would look like, then used a strategy, called Spend a Buck to narrow their focus towards what they wanted to immediately implement and what they would do first. They set SMART goals on these and created implementation plans and coaching cycles to help them achieve these goals.
Teams at South establish norms and collective commitments yearly. The GC is to encourage shared leadership and further knowledge and commitment. These leaders are a team of teachers of all levels and expertise who are committed to improvement through communication, collaboration, and accountability to ensure all kids learn at high levels.
The South GC meets regularly throughout the school year to both develop themselves as leaders as well as to share feedback and thoughts from the staff to continue to focus on removing obstacles and increase the focus on culture in our building so it remains positive and forward-thinking. This allows every voice in the building to be heard.
Currently at South, due to PLC focus and training, an emphasis on Tier 1 instruction for all is now consistently the priority. Works based on the four corollary questions defined by Dr. Richard DuFour, and consistent data conversations in the classrooms by both classroom teachers and students. Implementation of an RTI system to meet learners' needs, development of a Model of instruction, and critical concepts work guided by Marzano.
All other resources can be found at this link.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
At Neosho School District we have perfected our critical concepts through vertical alignment K-12. Proficiency scales were refined through collaboration to determine the success criteria and the learning progressions. This process was/is teacher-led and administrator/coach supported. This helped set the bar for learning so students could focus on not only reaching the bar but going beyond by providing opportunities to reach beyond proficiency. These scales are the language used in Every Student Every Standard and are what we track district-wide. We used DCI (District Continuous Improvement) to determine success criteria and make sure that our assessments and state requirements align and are constantly improving.
Our school, South Elementary, monitors student learning through the use of formative assessments which are tracked building wide by a document called Every Student, Every Standard (ESES). This data is entered weekly, if not daily, by teachers and interventionists to track student progress and growth toward mastery of those essential skills.
During the collaboration time, our teams work to develop Tier 1 unit plans to include the critical concepts and scales mentioned above. These plans are based on Marzano's work and include the 4 corollary questions central to the PLC process. During this time we also analyze data we have collected throughout the week and form a plan for instruction.
Critical concepts proficiency scales in both ELA and Math were presented to district-wide teams. These teams looked over the concepts and determined what would be assessed and what would be included in daily skills taught. These teams also created student-friendly proficiency scales in student-friendly language for students to use in the classroom in their data notebooks. District teams also created pacing guides that coincided with a timeline for the instruction of the critical concepts and assessments. The essentials were determined through K-12 vertical alignment at the district level using Achieve the Core to determine high-leverage standards. Grade-level teams meet to discuss and determine success criteria through the help of Heflebower's work, A Teacher's Guide to Standard-Based Learning. In those meetings, they developed mostly summative common assessments.
Representatives from DESE, DCI as mentioned above, have taken part in our collaborations, with our teams, to develop formative assessments that align and correlate to the DOK levels outlined in the teacher/team-created proficiency scales. These formative assessments are collectively graded and analyzed through Data Analysis protocols to then make instructional decisions by answering corollary questions 3 and 4.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Through the use of ESES (mentioned in the prior question), we are able to complete data analysis protocols to discover weak teaching areas, students not making growth, and students who need extensions. Using this formative data, placed in ESES, teachers create RTI groups named WIN (What I Need). Teachers form WIN groups for ELA and Math and collaborate with our intervention team (sped, ELD, speech, reading interventionists, and instructional coaches) and follow through with pointed interventions to reteach, reassess and extend. In addition to collaboration, data team meetings are also held to review student data and ensure the interventions that are in place are working. If the data shows they are not, a plan is made to increase intensity and/or time. Teachers and interventionists work together looking through the diagnostic and summative data to identify target groups of students. These students are deemed as having the potential to make growth toward proficiency. Based on the data, an appropriate intervention is decided that will help close the gap, and coaching cycles and various other scaffolding options are offered to support teachers and staff in the implementation of this intervention. 9-week cycles are set and rotate between ELA and Math. Every classroom teacher and specials teachers contribute to this process. Monitoring is checked throughout each cycle and groups are fluid depending on the learning target. Dates are set for intervention progress monitoring to be in ESES as well as a date to check in to track the effectiveness of the intervention and the efficacy of the teacher. These target groups are flexible as students grow and become proficient, other students are identified.
Through practices such as target group identification, small group assessment, human reader groups, and other accommodations available to our students as stated by the state Department of Education, and through the hard work of our collaboration with interventionists, Multilingual Learners Specialist, sped team, and counselor...we've had huge success with our subgroup population. The students are aware of how they test the best and how accommodations are for all kinds of work. Students also monitor their own progress in learning and skills by goal setting in things such as student data notebooks. Students are encouraged to take part in their learning progression by way of student-led conferences and reflection after formative assessment in the classroom using the data notebook. Another way some classrooms monitor their progress is through a classroom data wall. Utilizing with fidelity both a classroom data wall and data notebooks are a continuous goal for our building.
The process for those not making adequate growth is as follows. Target students are identified in ESES as needing additional interventions due to lack of progress and/or functioning below grade level. Students are presented to a team called the CARE team, including the interventionist, coach, counselor, Multilingual Learners Department team and SPED teachers, and the principal who all discuss the students progress. Through this collaboration, data starts to be collected on the student. The teachers who are trained in interventions by our instructional coach and/or building interventionist. The interventionists and classroom teachers use intervention checklists and anecdotal notes to track teaching points and student strengths and weaknesses. The interventionists and classroom teachers discuss these students and their areas of growth weekly during collaboration. A timeline is set to revisit and track growth, which is to be recorded in ESES and brought back to the team to analyze together. At the end of an intervention cycle, new interventions are suggested and implemented and/or further diagnostic data is requested through our special services department. In addition to classroom interventions, the building interventionist determines students with greatest need according to running records, iReady, Observation Survey, and language screeners. A schedule is created to ensure NO student misses any Tier 1 instruction.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Our collaborative teams meet weekly with team-created agendas to use the time to look at specific student and class-wide data. Teams also meet with the building administrator and building coach in order to review data. SMART goals are created consistently with the mindset that all students have the potential to show growth and/or master these essential skills. SMART goals are created with the work of the SMART goal planner for each unit and for building-wide summative data. For example, we noticed in 3rd grade, according to their BOY diagnostic on iReady, their students were struggling in the domain of comprehension of informational text, focusing on text features. The team created a SMART goal around this domain focusing on growth for 100% of their students based on a pre-assessment (iReady). They implemented Tier 1 text feature lessons and created/implemented Tier 2 interventions to be completed in small groups. The data not only increased for MID-year iReady, but the end-of-year MAP data also reflected success in this area.
When in collaboration, teams look for strategies and accommodations as well as confer with instructional coaches for best practices. Teachers participate in coaching cycles with our coaches to continue to grow professionally in order to impact student achievement. These cycles directly impact student success as a student-centered approach is used to plan coaching cycles. The coaches push into classrooms to model best practices and strategies to help build the knowledge and capacity of teachers in a particular area. The coach and the teacher will have a debriefing meeting to discuss the practices they noticed and questions they may have and then they plan the next steps together. The coach will follow up and observe the teacher in action and provide specific feedback. All coaching cycles are based on student data and what the teacher feels they need support in so they can impact student achievement in a positive manner.
Sometimes the best learning for teachers comes from other professionals in the building. We put this practice into place through the use of Learning Walks. The purpose of learning walks is multifaceted. One purpose is to create a safe and positive work environment by leaving encouraging and supportive feedback for every teacher every time. We have found this to build culture and trust. The second purpose is for the teachers to watch a peer teach in a self-identified weak area. This builds capacity in the teacher we are watching but also builds capacity and growth in the teacher(s) observing as they all leave with different takeaways they can immediately implement within their classroom. Participation is modeled and expected as admin, coaches, and all personnel take part as we all want to focus on professional growth. With all of the things we have learned and worked through within the PLC process, we have learned that we value the importance of sharing our knowledge with others. As Hattie talks about in his research, Collective Teacher Efficacy has one of the highest effects on student achievement, we have found that placing teachers in that consultation role does just this.
Another document we have used to help all members of our PLC see the big picture and how their daily work creates growth in change is the data wall. This is also how we track Tier 2 and 3 interventions. This document does not have names in order to help reduce the excuses that are sometimes subconsciously used to label kids and therefore give them a reason not to be successful. This builds the capacity for the classroom-level teacher to see the areas of need in reading and writing and watch those that are targeted make growth. It also helps to drive the decision on which students need which interventions. The data wall is updated and shared 3 times a year using DRA, writing benchmarks, and iReady reading and math scores.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Student’s Matter, Moments Count is the motto at South School. The teacher data files that have been uploaded are the buildings Map Proficiency Index (MPI) for grades K-4. Teachers collect and review this data during weekly Grade level Collaboration with teams and Building Administrators. This data is tracked for students in 3rd and 4th grades who take state assessments and students K-2nd who do not take state assessments. Tracking this data helps all stakeholders to realize that the entire building has a hand in the success of each student helping to create school-wide ownership of learning, thus fulfilling the school motto of Students Matter, Moments Count.
Our implementation of PLC and true collaboration helped our school and district achieve some of the highest growth percentages in the iReady Diagnostic assessment. Representatives from iReady came to Neosho to inform and celebrate with the school board. According to this data, we were one of the highest-ranking districts in the nation.
Professional Development Recognition and Achievement
We meet the needs of our students through an exceptionally caring staff that is trained in the following methods:
Building level PCL (Partnership in Comprehensive Literacy) certification–all staff
CIM (Comprehensive Intervention Model) Training—40% of staff
BIST (Behavior Intervention Support Team)—47% of staff
RTI (Response To Intervention)—27% of staff
PLC (Professional Learning Community)—27% of staff
PBL (Project Based Learning) and STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics)—23% of staff
Whole Brain Teaching–all staff
Trained Interventionists and Literacy Coaches
HRS LEVEL 1 CERTIFICATION
Awards and Grants
Our staff has received many grants to increase the resources available to students. These grants include:
Charitable Book Grants for K/1 beginning teachers—2021
Grow Light Stand Grant—2021
Weather Station Grant—2022
Life Cycles Grant—2022
Working Memory Grant—2019
Orf Music Grant—2018
Library Stem Grant—2022