Polser Elementary (2023)
- Number of Students: 475
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 40%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 20%
- Percent of Special Education: 30%
- White: 20.5%
- Black: 21.01%
- Hispanic: 21.85%
- Asian: 28.57%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.42%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.2%
- Multiracial: 7.35%
- Other: 0.1%
Our journey began in 2018, as we prepared to open as a LISD designated STEM Academy for the 2019-2020 school year. After attending the Solution Tree PLC at Work Institute in San Antonio, our campus began our journey utilizing the PLC process to improve instruction and student learning on our campus. Based on 3rd-5th grade STAAR ( state assessment) data, Polser had not made growth in four years. It was evident we needed to shift our instruction to focus on student growth and program implementation. We went in with the mindset that we needed to shift our focus. It was important to work collaboratively, digging deeper into the district curriculum, providing higher level instruction but consistently identifying and addressing low performing TEKS, and functioning as a high performing school.
Timeline of big ideas:
2018: Introduced to the PLC framework, created a mission and vision, sent teacher leaders and assistant principal to PLC training in Fort Worth; teacher leadership learning to build capacity in their PLC understanding and facilitation, Principal modeled PLC process during 90 minute PLC’s every nine weeks for each grade level, and targeted PLC district days focused on improving instruction.
This year, we created a house system to build community and a positive school wide behavior system following the Ron Clark Academy. In 2017, 2 teachers and the Assistant Principal visited the Ron Clark Academy, in 2018, 2 teachers and the Principal visited, and in 2019, 3 teachers visited the Academy. In 2018, those that attended Ron Clark formed a behavior committee to create a four house system. The houses were named with Inuit words, as our mascot is the Polar Bear, and established house leaders, as well as specific animals and colors (House of Akira (Intelligent) - Fox House, House of Ada (Kind) - Moose House, House of Alaise (Noble) - Falcon House, and House of Akiak - Bear House, and point criteria. Our students are all sorted into a house and remain in that house through 5th grade. Our students compete to earn house points following class dojo points, and our “PRIDE” system. We celebrate our house winners at Pep Rallies held every 9 weeks.
2019: Guiding Coalition attended a PLC institute to learn more about becoming a true PLC. Guiding Coalition members shared learning during August Inservice. We took time to disaggregate prior years data to create SMART goals to target low performing TEKS in all grade levels. Collaborative teams meet every nine weeks to look at data, create and respond to Common Formative Assessments, and use the 4 guiding questions to frame the conversation.
Schoolwide Restorative Practice training, which is aligned with our house system. Each teacher holds morning meetings and develops a treatment agreement in the fall and in the spring with their students. Second steps lessons are completed daily, and targeted character traits are focused on each month. We celebrate nominated students in each classroom, each nine weeks, that exemplify the character trait for the month.
Along with becoming a Nationally Certificated STEM schools in 2019 we redesigned our Mission and Vision
Engineering opportunities that challenge and inspire students to reach their full potential.
At Polser STEM Academy, we are committed to providing equal opportunities for all students to become lifelong learners and exceed expectations.
2020-present: We have continued the process of meeting in collaborative and vertical teams utilizing to complete PLC cycles. Each year our guiding coalition evaluates our process and shifts as needed. Each year we revisit campus focus areas and structures that we hold tight when meeting in collaborative teams. Along with our weekly ongoing team collaboration, starting in 22-23 school our school district has also put forth additional time and focus on PLCs. Every campus in our district was allotted an additional three half days for uninterrupted time for the collaborative team time . The commitment from our district, our learning and teaching department, the professional learning department, and our content facilitators has been instrumental in the success of creating a PLC culture. This additional time has allowed us to be more intentional about vertical teaming conversations and ensuring teams our singletons had time to connect with others in their roles across the district. When they are not able to meet in their subject/ grade level like group we have matched them intentionally to a collaborative team that benefits from their expertise during the ongoing.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Teams meet every week as a grade level collaborative team, and as vertical collaborative every nine weeks. During our weekly collaborative team meetings we review the goal, unpack essential TEKS to determine essential vocabulary, I - can statements, create common formative assessments and decide on the assessment/ lesson design timeline. Special teams including Fine Art and SDI meet with assigned grade levels every nine weeks. A bi-weekly data meeting is set to review the grade level data from the common formative assessments. Teams then restart the PLC cycle based on data trends.
Every August teams meet to discuss and build a shared understanding of the curriculum and learning needs for the upcoming school year. Teachers review the key standards, study curriculum documents, and discuss, analyze, prioritize, and make sense of the standards in order to build shared knowledge of the expected curriculum. Each month teachers unwrap standards into chunk size pieces of information. They then develop a shared understanding of behaviors of student mastery. We monitor student success on a weekly basis. Each conversations is centered around the following questions:
What do we want students to learn?
How will we know when they’ve learned it?
What will we do for those who didn’t?
What will we do for those that have learned it?
Based on our digital school wide data spreadsheet, our students continued to make progress during the 2020-2021 school year, when 50% of students started the year virtually. As we monitored progress, we collaborated with our families through WebEx conferencing, and were able to bring struggling students back to in person learning by the 3rd nine weeks, with 75% returning at the end of the first semester. It was imperative that those students receive intervention support during and after school to address targeted TEKS and close learning gaps in reading and math.
Campus teachers, specials, and specialists meet weekly following the PLC process to target low performing TEKS based on data from campus and district assessments, plan instruction, and embed intervention and extension. The campus meets in PLC’s vertically and by grade levels every nine weeks to collaboratively review our data, and provide professional learning based on campus needs and goals for the school year.
Response to Intervention (RTI) Meetings are held every nine weeks with all grade levels to review student progress and collaboratively develop SMART goals for identified students to ensure student success. Based on intervention data, the RTI committee develops additional interventions and or recommends additional campus support through special education referrals if needed. Student data is consistently monitored by our teachers and campus administrators.
Along with classroom small group instruction Intervention and extension is embedded into our master schedule at the end of the school day for all grade levels, providing 30-45 minute blocks for small group instruction, extension, and instructional support for all students not successful on grade level TEKS.
Literacy Check Ins are held with grade level teachers individually every nine weeks, with administration, and a district literacy administrator to review student data on iStation Reading each month, and DRA. The teachers discuss literacy instruction and share evidence of student progress and differentiated instruction to support students struggling in reading.
see example of the Literacy Check- in form used to guide literacy conversations
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
During our collaborative team meetings each grade level teacher tracks student data on a digital campus data sheet. Teachers track student data on a digital campus data sheet. The data that is tracked is based on academic progress in all content areas. Teams identify students that will benefit from small group instruction based on data. Individual student Smart Goals are developed for each of the students specific needs. In order to monitor progress we utilize weekly data meetings and the MTSS process. We also provided multiple opportunities for student extension through the use of Depth and Complexity and planned learning experiences. In 2022, an additional 45 minutes was added to our master schedule at the end of the day for intervention and extension for all grade levels. All teachers (including fine arts and SPED) in the building are meeting with small groups of students to support every child's growth.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
We have a commitment to continuous improvement and maximizing collaborative team time .All collaborative team meetings are facilitated by teacher instructional leaders to discuss student growth and best instructional practices for the upcoming week's instruction and assessments using the four questions to guide conversations. Grade level teams use the understanding by design model, reviewing district assessments and developing formative assessments to measure student progress on grade level TEKS. Our master schedule is built to allow each content team to have embedded time to analyze, discuss, evaluate, and design instruction to best support individualized student learning. Grade level teams meet bi-weekly, along with having 3 dedicated half- days built into our district calendar. All meetings are facilitated by teacher instructional leaders to discuss student growth and best instructional practices for the upcoming week's instruction and assessments.
Nationally Recognized STEM Certified Academy
Academic Achievement in Mathematics
Top 25 Percent: Comparative Academic Growth
Top 25 Percent: Comparative Closing the Gaps