Pulaski Community School District (2023)

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

In the early to mid-2000s, three of our buildings individually looked to implement PLCs. However, that wasn’t sustainable since it was done in isolation and in pockets.  In 2015, several superintendents later and with a renewed district focus to truly proceed on the PLC journey for our seven buildings (5 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school), we had a renewed commitment to the work by engaging in a book study Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work (DuFour & Fullan).  Our learning leaders attended our first PLC Institute together in Des Moine and Madison followed by taking teams of teachers.  

As a learning leader team, we committed to the three big ideas, four critical questions, and six essential characteristics of a PLC.  We worked to build capacity in all of our staff with each building having true guiding coalitions, school-wide intervention teams, and collaborative teacher teams.  Collins (2001), in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, indicates that leaders must “first get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people into the right seats –– and then they figure out where to drive it” (p. 13). This is certainly what we have focused on with our guiding coalitions who have been the driving force of this work by creating collective commitments with staff as well as developing mission, vision, and goals in order to implement, accelerate and sustain change. We built time into schedules for teachers to have the collaboration time required to do the work of identifying power standards, unwrapping and scaffolding into learning targets, linking to common assessments aligned to DOK levels, moving towards standards-based learning, and collaborative scoring with rubrics and scales.  We established our tight-loose leadership and continuously come back to ensure we are focusing on the right work.  From Learning by Doing, we have embraced the quote of “what gets monitored, gets done” and developed a rubric last year that lays out the PCSD: What we are TIGHT about in the PLC Process.  For continuous improvement and commitment, as a district, we have focused on our five tights:

  • Work in collaborative teams and take collective responsibility for student learning (academic, social-emotional & life skills) rather than work in isolation.  Every student is our responsibility.

  •  Implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum (Unit by Unit, Power Standard by Power Standard, Target by Target, Student by Student)

  • Monitor student learning through an ongoing assessment process (Align common formative assessments (CFA) to power standards; Frequent, team-developed CFA)

  • Use the results of common assessments to improve individual practice, build the team’s capacity to achieve its goals, intervene or extend on behalf of students

  • Provide consistent systematic interventions and enrichment. Intervention is timely, directive (not invitational), and diagnostic (focusing on specific skills). Students who experience difficulty would receive additional time and support.  Students who are proficient would be given the opportunity to extend their learning

We knew that in order to build capacity the engagement of staff in this work would be important.  This meant providing professional development through various Solution Tree events such as PLC at Work, RtI at Work, Grading from Inside Out, Math at Work Best Practices, etc.  Out of our 321 staff members in the Pulaski Community School District, we have easily had over 200 staff members attend one of these workshops. A few summers ago, we hosted one of the PLC at Work Live Institutes for our staff and had over 165 attendees. We also invested our time and energy into working with consultants such as Joe Cuddemi (2020-present), Tim Kanold (2022), Tom Schimmer (2017-19), Tom Guskey (2019), and Julie Schmidt (2024).  Important work has occurred together as PCSD staff on building shared knowledge and commitments through building and district book studies which have included Common Formative Assessment: A Toolkit for Professional Learning Communities at Work,  Taking Action, Learning by Doing, and others. 

There has also been a focus on all staff digging, deciphering, and delivering on the data that we have at our hands regarding student achievement.  Our 3D Vision Time (data retreat) has grown from being a two-day event in the summer to one that is incorporated into the school year with all staff. Our district goals are aligned with our school goals and action plans as well as our learning leaders' and teachers' Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and Professional Practice Goals (PPG). Within our teams, the teachers and learning leaders use data protocols to dig into the data to answer the four critical PLC questions and drive instruction for universal core instruction as well as interventions and extensions for Tier 2 and 3. As Mike Mattos shares, many schools may have an “all-day universal problem”, we continue to work towards solidifying Tier 1 with our universal core curriculum and instruction well before shifting much focus on the interventions and extensions. This work also lends itself to what our adult learners need for professional growth and evidence-based practices for their professional development.

With a focus on unifying our PLC work as an overarching umbrella with RtI, PBIS for academic (skills), and behavior (will), we look forward to our continued journey of ensuring high levels of learning for all students as we build shared knowledge, understanding and commitment to the “right work” that impacts student and adult learning. 


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

In PCSD we have used two different approaches to creating and implementing a guaranteed and viable curriculum by identifying our power standards or essential learnings.  

The first approach we used was to bring our grade level and content teachers together which may have ranged from one teacher up to eighteen teachers.  We grounded our teacher in the “why” and process that we would use to determine our power standards as well as showing them what the final product such as safety nets would look like. Together in these collaborative teams, we established an understanding of the R.E.A.L criteria when determining our power standards and then applied those in the process of sorting our standards into nice-to-know or need-to-know standards in each content area.  When using the R.E.A.L criteria it allowed us to determine and come to a consensus on the 4-6 power standards with much dialogue towards clarity of the standards as a team.  Once the grade level's power standards were drafted and revised, we brought vertical teams (K-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc)  together to look for gaps, omissions, replications, etc., and finalize the draft of power standards.  Each grade level selected two representatives which then met as a K-12 team to finalize our district power standards.  Once we came to a consensus, further work was done to unwrap the power standard using an unwrapping protocol focusing on keywords (verbs, nouns, sills/concepts), mapping it out, scaffolding the learning targets, analyzing and aligning the learning target to DOK levels and developing rubrics and scales.  At this point especially with the larger grade level teams, we decided to use the accordion out-accordion in process and have representatives come together to create the grade level scope and sequence/pacing guides which also included common assessments. This work was then accordioned back out to the teams for input.  The work is continuously reflected upon and revised as needed by the grade level or core teams.

As mentioned there was also a second approach used during COVID-19 when our teachers weren’t able to meet to determine power standards in large groups and this was the accordion in-accordion out process.  All of the above things were completed but by using representatives from each elementary building rather than having everyone together.  Of course, the best work and process is bringing all stakeholders together to come to a consensus and deep understanding of the power standards.

As described in other questions, a balanced literacy approach is key to monitoring student learning on a daily basis.  Teams have created and established common formative assessments (CFAs), administered them, and then brought the data back to collaborative team meetings using the data protocol to drive the conversations centered around the 4 Critical PLC questions.  Team members must be vulnerable in sharing the data, asking for help, replicating the strengths, sharing students in flexible groups for interventions and extensions, and much more. Other assessments are also used to drive instruction such as end-of-unit assessments, state assessments, district screeners, and progress monitoring tools. Two years ago we implemented eduClimber, an interactive whole-child management system that is like a data warehouse allowing us to drill down from grade levels to classrooms to small groups to individual students. We also can work within WISEData for our state assessments.  All of these tools and processes allow us to monitor data on a timely basis to drive the universal core curriculum, interventions, and extension within Tier 2 and 3 of the inverted RtI Pyramid.


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

In PCSD students are identified for Tier 2 academic interventions based on need.  In teacher teams, the instructors use the data from common formative or end-of-unit assessments in order to identify students who require additional support on the assessed learning targets or power standards.  Students are also identified for extensions using the data and assessments by the teams.  

At the elementary level, groups of students struggling with the same target or standard receive Tier 2 instruction during designated grade-level intervention times (target time, what-I-need time, etc.).  Each teacher on the grade level team will take a group of students and provide the additional instruction needed to address the identified need as seen in the common formative or end-of-unit assessment. Please note that this is also a time when students receive extensions on the material if their data indicates they have reached proficiency on the targets or standards.

At the middle school level, groups of students are identified by the teacher teams and pulled into what’s known as “GO” time, a school-wide intervention time.  A management system is used so that teachers can identify specific students who must attend a GO time with them for support, but students can also request support from specific teachers for their GO time based on their self-assessed needs. Students also may receive extension during GO time if they have demonstrated proficiency on the noted targets and/or standards.
At the high school level, students have open time during their schedule when they are not scheduled into a class known as Personalized Learning Time, or PLT.  During these times, students can seek out their teachers for support within a content area resource center.  However, if a team (for example the biology team) identifies a student for additional support, they can go through a process known as “back scheduling” where they require a student to check in during their PLT to that specific resource area and receive additional instruction from a department teacher.

Students who require Tier 2 support for behavior are referred to the school’s Tier 2 behavior team.  This is done through a referral process within Educlimber where teacher teams identify the behavior of concern and the Tier 1 supports they have implemented.  The Tier 2 team then meets with the teacher to discuss the student and create a plan for Tier 2 behavior supports such as check-in, check-out; check-and-connect; etc.  The team leaves the meeting with a common understanding of the process, how to gather data, and a set time for coming together to review whether the student is responding to Tier 2 support.  

If students are not responding to Tier 2 either academically or behaviorally, the teacher team or Tier 2 behavior team can refer the student for Tier 3 interventions.  This referral is shared with the School-wide Intervention Team, consisting of counselors, school psychologists, administrators,  learning support teachers, etc.  This team meets with the referring staff and creates an intensive Tier 3 plan for support based on the student's individual needs.  The student then receives intensive, daily support in behavior or academics, in addition to accessing the Tier 1 curriculum and Tier 2 help.  This student is carefully monitored for progress and plans are adjusted as needed, with the goal of exiting students from Tier 3.

The learning support teachers (LSTs), who typically act as our interventionists for our Tier 3 academic skills, also will provide support to students who are identified as needing Tier 2 or Tier 3 extensions and enrichments.  They work with our out of sync learners both needing those Tier 3 interventions and extensions.  Using screening data to identify students achieving at high levels in one or more academic areas, and/or using teacher/parent referral for advanced learner support in academics, creativity, artistic expression, or leadership, the learning support teachers work in conjunction with classroom teachers to identify and provide opportunities for extension or enrichment.  These opportunities could include specific instruction during small group work time, Tier 2 intervention times, or even during pull-out times with the LST either in a small group or one-on-one.  We provide a continuum of services for our advanced learners or students needing enrichment and extensions. Just as we use the inverted pyramid for RtI for our struggling learners who need more support, we also have a similar model for advanced learners which include the universal curriculum differentiation (about 80% of identified students), enrichment (10-15% of identified learners), and individualized services (5-10% of identified learners). There are many ways we look to meet our student's needs when answering question #4 of what will we do for students who have mastered the learning.  Along this continuum of services, students who need enrichment may have small group instruction specific to their needs (student by student, skill by skill, target by target), simulation games, learning centers, team teaching, learning menus, extension or passion projects, flexible grouping, curriculum compacting, advanced placement coursework, cluster grouping, independent research, subject acceleration, grade advancement, etc. This may include the use of a Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) which are plans cooperatively written and designed by the teacher, Learning Support Teacher and parents. The DEP outlines specialized educational programming specific to the student's area(s) of strength. These plans can include multiple programming options and curriculum, including potential modifications in pace, breadth, and depth of curriculum based on the assessment of, for and as learning. 


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

In PCSD, one of the three big ideas of a PLC that we have worked on is the building of a collaborative culture with teams of teachers focused on the four critical PLC questions:  What do we want students to learn? (Curriculum/Essential Learning/Power Standards); How will we know they have learned it? (Balanced Assessments-Formative, CFA, and Summative): What will we do if they have not learned it? (Instruction-Intervention); and What will we do if they have mastered it? (Instruction-Extensions).  Our PCSD Tight #1 is to “work in collaborative teams and take collective responsibility for student learning (academic, social-emotional & life skills) rather than work in isolation.  Every student is our responsibility.”  John Hattie’s research from Visible Learning has one of the highest effect sizes in his influences as teacher collective efficacy as 1.57. Also, other important influences such as teacher clarity .76 ES and feedback .73 ES are important to the work of high-performing teams in our district.

We continuously emphasize this with our 320 professional staff members through book studies such as Learning by Doing,  Taking Action, or others. Joe Cuddemi, Solution Tree Associate has also worked with our guiding coalitions, learning leaders, school-wide intervention teams, and teacher teams both virtually and in person on the Team Teaching Assessing Cycle.  He also presented a session to all staff called Collaborative Teams: Maximizing Your Time Together. We have had over 170 staff members attend our PLC at Work Live Institute and then about 30 plus members each year either attend PLC or RtI Institutes.  All of these adult learning opportunities support the work of high-performing teams working to improve high levels of learning for all students. 

Of utmost importance are the building capacity and shared knowledge of the collaborative team focused on learning through collaborative inquiry, action research, a commitment to continuous improvement, and results orientation. This also means that within each school building, there is a shared mission (fundamental purpose), vision (compelling future), values (collective commitments), and goals (progress/targets).  We have moved beyond just having norms for our meetings to a true focus on the collective commitments that each will do for all of our students. Much work has taken place this year at the building level to establish these collective commitments. 

We have also found that it is important to celebrate our progress.  At board and staff meetings, we share the success of the teams as they work towards the other 4 PCSD Tights and allow them to showcase the great work within their teams of implementing a guaranteed viable curriculum unit by unit, power standard by power standard, target by target and student by student; monitoring of student learning through ongoing team-developed assessment with aligned CFA to power standards; using the results of the CFA to improve teacher practice and build the team’s capacity; and finally to provide consistent systematic interventions and enrichment that are timely.  Our work continues with our teacher teams for Tier 2 and 3 to ensure students who experience difficulty receive additional time and support and students who are proficient are given the opportunity to extend their learning.

As mentioned previously, monitoring the team agenda and participating in team meetings are important facets of building team capacity.  We have established common expectations that should be seen in each team’s agenda but allow them to select or create an agenda that meets their needs. Again we continue to realize that we get what we monitor.  We recently have done some work with Chapter 5 of Time for Change (Cruz and Muhammad) with a focus on the RESIST protocol as well as the formula of Support (I) must precede Accountability (ROI).  Cuddemi has also continued to work with our guiding coalitions and learning leaders on courageous conversations which have trickled down into our teacher teams. Again helping to support the work of building capacity and shared knowledge to become high-performing collaborative teams.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Three years of data have been uploaded for PCSD K-12.  As with many other districts nationwide, the state accountability assessments were halted in 2019-20 with the global pandemic.  However, we had just completed the state assessment using the ACT for our Grade 11 students.  Other assessments such as the Forward Exam (Wisconsin for Grades 3-8 and 10 (social studies) as well as the ACT Aspire (Grades 9-10) were not completed.  The district has local achievement data for 4K-Grades 2, our screener assessment for math and ELA called Fastbridge which is also used in Grades 3-8. We also have recently implemented the HMH Growth Measure in both reading (2 years for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023) and math (1 year for 202-23) in Grades 9 and 10. 

The speadsheet of data for the 2019-2020 Pulaski Covid Data consists of local data for Fastbridge which is our screener used three times per year for K-8 in math and reading. However, with schools closed and learning occuring virtually in the spring of 2020, we did not administer or have these results for end of year local assessments.  For elementary, we also complete a reading assessment for levels called Fountas and Pinnel which allows us to create small reading groups based on levels, skills and strategies. Again this was not able to be completed at the end of the school year in 2020. For Grade 9, we were in the early stages of piloting the HMH Reading Growth Measure as a universal screener.  As many districts, we had limited resources for assessments at the high school level so were in the process of finding a tool that worked for our students and staff in providing us with baseline and growth data after moving away from the NWEA MAPs and finding that Fastbridge didn't meet our needs at the high school level.

A strategy that we have used with our return from the global pandemic in both the 2021-22 school year has been the Flash Back-Flash Forward that was shared in a webinar with Mike Mattos and others during the global pandemic. We have certainly found value with our collaborative teams and then vertical teams coming together to get clear on the current status and then getting clear on the most immediate prerequisite skills.  Our teams share what power standards they are most concerned about with students struggling into the next grade level or course as well as what data regarding that power standard is beneficial for the next year's teacher.  The receiving teacher or team looks at the potential learning gaps, the prerequisite skills and concepts that are most needed for instruction and planning as well as where, when, and how they will address those learning gaps in the upcoming school year. The discussion protocol that we have used when the teams meet vertically includes:

  • Why are you concerned about this power standard and students struggling?
  • Were you able to assess students on the power standard? If so, what di the data tell you?
  • What are the best strategies to teach the skill and concepts that students didn't receive last year during school closure and created learning gaps?
  • Other thoughts?

Although the document shares much of our state assessment data, we truly understand and acknowledge that our local data, especially common formative assessments and dialogue among team members drives true progress in closing achievement gaps and ensuring all students learn at high levels. We have embraced Rick Stiggin's work on assessment for and as learning over the assessment of learning. We continue to work on a balanced assessment system within our district that places emphasis on classroom and district assessments.  We have also established data protocols that support our teams of teachers' discussions as they come together to share and learn together on what is best for student learning based on the data results. 


  • In 2022, Pulaski Community School District earned a cumulative A- grade as ranked by www.niche.com.
  • Niche ranked PCSD 73rd of 371 state school districts;
  • Niche ranked PCSD 47th of 371 state school districts for athletes;
  • Niche ranked PCSD 119th of 379 districts with the best teachers in Wisconsin;
  • Niche ranked PCSD 25th safest of 371 Wisconsin school districts
  • Pulaski High School was 108th Best High School of 452 state schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report magazine in 2022.
  • Seventy-five percent of the 277-member class of 2022 moved on to higher education with 42 percent at four-year universities and 33 percent at technical college/specialty schools. Three percent joined the military.
  • The state Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin RtI Center recognized six PCSD schools for their implementation of positive behavior programs to help close student achievement gaps.
  • Forty-two percent of PHS students earned college credits through Early College Credit Program and Start College Now last year. This school year, 9 percent, or 101 PHS students, are in the Youth Apprenticeship Program at 86 businesses.
  • Nearly 45 clubs and 22 athletic programs are available at PHS; 10 clubs and 11 athletic programs are available at Pulaski Community Middle School. Over 700 PHS and PCMS students are active and involved in a club. Nearly 800 PHS and PCMS students play a sport.
  • Thirty-eight percent of the PHS Class of 2022 earned some of the $1.35 million awarded in scholarships at the end of their senior years including from the Pulaski Education Foundation and other local groups.
  • PHS offers 90-plus Career and Technical Education courses in Family and Consumer Sciences, Agriscience, Business, and Technical Education, plus more through technical colleges. Leadership opportunities are offered through FFA, VICA, FLBA, ProStart, and more, which compete on the state and national levels.
  • PCSD has been part of the Apple Distinguished Schools program since 2013. Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple's vision for learning with technology. The district has a 1:1 iPad program and monitors in classrooms where learning materials can be easily sent from Apple devices to the screen.
  • PCSD earned Spectrum Award certificates of achievement from the Wisconsin School Public Relations Association in 2018 for district photo galleries and in 2022 for the district’s 100th graduating class project.
  • The Greater Green Bay Chamber has honored area teachers with the coveted Golden Apple award since 1994. Since its inception, 54 PCSD teachers have been awarded Golden Apple awards including two current teachers who won while at different districts and one who won as an individual and as a team member.
  • PCSD MUSIC PROGRAM: 2022, 2020, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2008: Recognized as one of the 100 best school districts in the nation for music education by the National Association of Music Merchants.
  • SCHOOL FOREST AWARD:  School Forest Award, LEAF program, 2022.
  • WEMTA PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR: Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association.
  • Wisconsin High School Art Instructor