Shirley Hills Elementary (2023)

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

Shirley Hills Elementary is a Title I school in Warner Robins, Georgia, in Houston County. Shirley Hills is a neighborhood school that serves 525 students in grades PreK-5. In May 2022, Dr. Anisa Baker-Busby was appointed as the new principal of Shirley Hills.  In June 2022, Dr. Baker-Busby, Dr. Jackson, the previous principal, members of the Leadership Team, and the Intervention Team attended a Solution Tree PLC at Work Institute in Orlando, Florida, to realign the school’s PLC at Work processes by re-establishing a guiding coalition to develop the mission, vision, collective commitments, and our guaranteed and viable curriculum for students in all grades. Shirley Hills had been implementing PLC at Work Process for several years with the previous principal, Dr. Traci Jackson. This event would begin the school’s journey toward moving from PLC Lite to PLC Right and creating a PLC at Work culture focusing on collaboration, results, and improving student learning outcomes.

With PLC at Work processes progressing with the leadership team and teacher teams, and knowing the school needed more clarity on how our PLC at Work processes could support our RTI processes, in October 2022, the counselor, the intervention teacher, and the assistant principal attended the RTI at Work Institute in Tampa, Florida. Before the conference, the Spring 2022 Georgia Milestones State testing data and our Fall MAP Growth scores were analyzed to help us create school SMART goals. To achieve these goals, we developed action steps to improve the capacity of the leaders and teachers. We also identified specific evidence-based instructional strategies to strengthen our Tier 1 instruction, assessment practices, and response systems of support for identified students’ needs.

Throughout the RTI Institute presentations and workshops, the team was able to share with several RTI at Work presenters and associates the school’s background and the work we have done since the PLC Institute while reiterating the need for more guidance. This learning experience caused a shift in the school’s trajectory toward improved practices.  Through the institute and the use of the protocols, strategies, and actions in the book Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work (Buffum et al., 2018), we learned how to establish the role of leadership, intervention, and teacher teams in the RTI process. We learned how to establish a foundational culture of interdependence as each collaborative team urgently worked toward a common goal. We learned how to redefine the school’s mission and vision to ensure that learning for students meant learning for all students. We also developed a school theme that spoke to creating a learning-focused culture and our purpose. Our mantra became “Learning is Required.” This was important because we knew that for kids to learn more, we, as adults, also needed to learn more. 

Soon, not only did the principal notice the positive shift in the school, the teachers noticed a drastic and positive change in their culture. We had a clear mission, vision, purpose, and framework to accomplish the substantial work in front of us and achieve our goals. Collectively, we established a master schedule that supported what we valued, SMART goals for the year and for each team, and new budgets that supported PLC and RTI processes. As a result, Shirley Hills Elementary started to feel like a completely different school.

Specifically, the principal was a lead learner in implementing PLC processes, and every leadership team and faculty meeting was professional development for the teachers and support staff.  Teacher teams moved from compliance with the work to being committed to processes focused on data and evidence of learning.  Providing effective Tier 1 instruction with embedded acceleration strategies became the focus in classrooms and collaborative planning.  We knew the only way to improve the learning outcomes for all kids was to ensure we delivered the best Tier 1 instruction every day in every classroom for every student. 

We do not use the term PLC as much as when we started, as this is now a culture of work and a school-wide commitment to proven effective practices from all adults. 


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Shirley Hills Elementary School is collectively committed to the ongoing process of monitoring student learning in a timely basis.  As a result of our commitment, we implement PLC at Work processes in order to systematically and expediently review data from multiple sources, such as screeners, common end-of-unit assessments, and common formative assessments, to aid us in making data-based decisions about student learning.  This process is performed weekly by collaborative grade-level teacher teams and monthly by the school-level data and intervention teams. The analysis of student data includes reviewing student work, question analysis, and by student by standard by target analysis, which help teams identify students by name and by need and root cause for instructional support. Teacher teams have data spreadsheets for individual classes by grade level. This assists teacher teams in determining which students need extensions and additional time and support on skills, targets, and standards. As a result of collaborative meetings, teacher teams develop systematic, timely, and directive interventions and extensions for identified students. This process also allows teachers to exercise instructional agility and make real-time decisions based on the data to meet the needs of their students. Teacher teams review and study unwrapped essential standards, and they create end-of-unit assessments, common formative assessments, and formative assessments to monitor students’ learning unit by unit. Teams have norms, protocols, processes, and systems to display their classroom data and combine grade-level data on all end-of-unit assessments and common formative assessments. Teams then review the SMART goals created for the unit and review their progress toward meeting the set goals. 

Additionally, students monitor their learning or progress by tracking their data in their data notebooks. This process helps the students become invested in their learning. Students are given goals and expected proficiency levels they must achieve for their essential standards. Students then chart their progress and compare it to goals set for grade-level expectations, mastery, or proficiency.  Students also use their data notebooks to conduct student-led conferences with their parents and discuss their goals, progress, and steps needed to be proficient or extend their learning. 

We also have monthly school-wide data team meetings to review academic data on all students and the progress monitoring data of students receiving Tier 2, Tier 3, and Special Education support.  The data team reviews common formative assessments, end-of-unit assessments, screener data, and work samples to discuss the learning progress of students, as well as discuss and reflect on Tier 1 instructional practices of classroom teachers. 

The Intervention Team meets monthly to create support plans for students identified as needing intensive remediation as they are performing well below expected grade level proficiency expectations. This team includes an administrator, a content specialist teacher for reading and math, the Media Specialist, the Special Education lead teacher, the Speech Pathologist, the ESOL teacher, the Program Specialist, the School Psychologist, the Counselor, the School Social Worker, and the Parent Engagement Coordinator. Discussions are focused on students who receive or need Tier 3 support.  The team problem-solves for the general education teacher to create a learning plan for each student.  Then, the most qualified staff member is assigned to the student to help provide supplemental support apart from the classroom teacher. The additional staff includes resource teachers (EIP Reading, EIP Math, ESOL, Media Specialist, Special Education teachers, Specials teachers, and Counselor), Paraprofessionals, and the Parent Engagement Coordinator.

Throughout the year, teachers at Shirley Hills complete self-assessments and use the “Core Continuums" to monitor their processes and provide qualitative data to the Guiding Coalition.  Data collected from these surveys and continuums provided information to the principal and the Guiding Coalition to celebrate the great work of teams, identify the next instructional steps to address the learning needs of the staff and provide clarity to the individual teachers or teams.  Qualitative data, such as self-assessments and surveys, are good data for teams to monitor throughout the year to keep their focus on the right work that is proven to increase student achievement. The Guiding Coalition also uses surveys to gather input and feedback on schoolwide systems' practices, processes, and procedures.


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

Shirley Hills Elementary has tight systems of support for interventions and extensions to provide students with additional time and support for learning essential skills, targets, and standards.  Grade-level collaborative teacher teams meet weekly to analyze data from common end-of-unit assessments and common formative assessments to determine which students need Tier 2 support on specific essential skills and learning targets. These teams then systematically, directly, and promptly plan to intervene to meet the needs of every student identified.  

Additionally, teachers plan to adjust their instructional practices as needed based on the feedback and results of the data. These actions ensure we keep our focus on collaboration, learning, and results at the forefront of every collaborative planning.  We created a master schedule that supports our commitment to intervene systematically, directly, and in a timely manner. Built into the master schedule is an hour block for intervention and extension for each grade level.  Homeroom teachers provide Tier 2 support to all identified students, while resource or content specialist teachers provide Tier 3 support to those students identified by universal screeners or teacher recommendations based on various sources of data. This service model is to ensure the educator administering the intervention is the most trained and competent at the task. 

Additionally, Shirley Hills administrators and teachers have truly developed a culture of “our students.” We embraced having a collective responsibility for all students. We understand the importance of providing Tier 2 and Tier 3 support in addition to learning new essential grade-level curriculum.  Teacher teams build in time to provide intervention (additional time and support-core plus more) for grade-level standards by collaboratively pacing out each unit, being sure to build in days to administer common formative assessments and days to respond to the data by providing intervention to identified students.  After analyzing data from common formative assessments, the team decides on which standards, targets, or skills students will need additional time and support.  Teams then share students to ensure the most trained person serves students in providing intervention. This action ensures that all students needing intervention and extension will receive the prevention and support needed to succeed.  These steps repeat unit by unit, ensuring teams follow/implement the Learning Cycle.

The school-level data team meets monthly to engage in intentional discussions around the data of all students in the school.  The team examines universal screeners, end-of-unit assessments, common assessments, and county benchmark reading data. The team then decides who will get Tier 2 support, Tier 3 support, and extension lessons.  Students who are identified as needing Tier 2 support receive it from the classroom teacher.  Students identified as needing Tier 3 support receive it from additional personnel (resource teachers, paraprofessionals, and Specials teachers) during the school-wide intervention/extension (I/E) time.  I/E time is built into the master schedule for all grade levels. I/E time is an additional forty-five minutes of support students receive in addition to the Tier 1 instruction in reading and math.  Students receiving support are in fluid groups that can change as the team reviews progress data.

Teachers at Shirley Hills embrace the philosophy and mindset of collective and shared responsibility. Teams identify days to intervene and extend the learning for the students in each unit after administering a common formative assessment; then, they analyze data to get feedback on instructional practices and make adjustments. They also analyze data to group and share students and determine the teacher to provide additional instructional support to identified students, standards, and skills.  Teams move students to the specified group on the designated day to receive additional instruction and practice. On this day, the teams determine the frequency and timing of check-in and follow-up by administering “quick check” formative assessments to monitor the effectiveness of the added instruction. The cycle is repeated unit by unit after each administered common formative assessment.

Because Shirley Hills Elementary functions as a professional learning community, the MTSS framework and processes provide systematic steps needed to respond to students' academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs when required.  Our MTSS processes provided a framework for us to have an intentional plan of support to respond when students do not learn, meet behavior expectations, and demonstrate social and emotional needs.  Based on his meta-analysis of thousands of studies, John Hattie found that RTI ranks in the top three educational practices proven to increase student achievement best. RTI has an exceptional average yearly impact of 1.29 when done well. That means our intervention process can accelerate the learning of underperforming students while ensuring all students receive core grade-level instruction.  He also found that effective schools develop a learning climate that encourages academic growth while reinforcing socially appropriate behaviors.  They also create an atmosphere for collaborative teamwork within a school. Just as one would expect, Shirley Hills embodies both. 

Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework aimed at creating welcoming learning environments that promote socially appropriate behaviors and student engagement. Within PBIS, schools implement several effective practices that can help better meet the needs of students with learning difficulties while systematically supporting and acknowledging when students are learning and making progress. Knowing the effectiveness of both RTI and PBIS, Shirley Hills fully embraced the PBIS framework within our professional learning community. Implementing PBIS led to decreased discipline referrals in 2022-2023 from the 2021-2022 school year, better attendance, higher engagement in the classroom, and increased access to classroom instruction. When PBIS is done well, it addresses student and teacher behavior through positive behavior interactions, and it requires the schools to train all teachers on effective practices and provide direct and explicit instruction of behavior expectations to the school's students. Our deep dive and commitment to implementing MTSS and doing it well led to Shirley Hills being recognized as a 2022-2023 PBIS Distinguished School.



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

Shirley Hills values building and increasing teacher capacity to work as a member of high-performing collaborative teams that share essential learning objectives and take collective responsibility for all students learning grade-level essential standards. The focus of all teacher teams at Shirley Hills is a focus on learning, a focus on collaborative culture, and a focus on results orientation. According to Learning By Doing, the more schools can align their practices, processes, and procedures to these three big ideas, the higher the probability of being a high-performing team and PLC and the higher the likelihood that more students will learn due to the teachers learning more through collaboration and job-embedded professional learning.  The most common structure of teacher teams is collaborative grade-level teacher teams that include paraprofessionals.  However, there are processes where vertical teams are needed in faculty meetings or school-wide data team meetings.

Additionally, there are interdisciplinary teams of teachers who teach different content and share the same students, and they focus their efforts on shared essential skills.  These include our special education team, Specials team, and content resource teachers (EIP Math, EIP Reading, ESOL, and Media Specialist).  Each team focuses on improving student learning; therefore, each team must have shared data to discuss students.  This shared data is obtained from the universal screeners and benchmarks the students take three times a year.  

The leadership team created a master schedule that supports one of the three big ideas of a PLC: a focus on collaboration.  Each team is provided forty-five minutes of collaborative planning each day.  An additional ninety minutes is provided each week to give teams time during their contractual hours to focus on essential actions of teacher teams. A highly effective professional learning community believes in the fundamental assumption that the key to improved student outcomes is continuous job-embedded professional learning.  This professional learning occurs during grade-level collaboration as teams address and answer the four critical questions of a PLC, study and unwrap standards, review resources, and examine student data.   

The leadership team created collaboration protocols for the school to ensure each teacher team intentionally addresses the four critical questions and focuses on the right work. Shirley Hills identified the commitments and action steps that high-performing teams must implement:

  1. Create norms and SMART Goals;

  2. Identify, define, and clarify essential standards or learning outcomes for each grade level;

  3. Create a unit plan where teams are intentional about implementing the Learning Cycle by creating a unit-by-unit plan, creating common end-of-unit assessments, common formative assessments, developing team SMART goals, and provide high-quality Tier 1 instruction;

  4. Administer and analyze common end-of-unit assessments and common assessments to identify students who need additional time and support, review progress towards team-level SMART goals, and analyze the effectiveness of the provided instruction;  

  5. Take responsibility and implement the additional time and support (Tier 2 interventions) for students who were identified by assessment data.

  6. Identify students needing intensive support (Tier 3 interventions); and

  7. Identify students needing an extension. 

These processes have led Shirley Hills to establish high-performing teams across grade levels that are focused on ensuring all students learn at high levels.  In addition to the grade-level team, resource teachers, paraprofessionals, Specials teachers, and Special Education teachers are regular members of the grade-level collaboration. 

Specials (Art, P.E., and Music) teachers also work with teacher collaborative teams to discuss the needs of the students they serve for intervention.  Additionally, the Specials teachers have a weekly collaboration time to discuss the students they serve and ways to support the K_% reading and math essential standards in their classroom. Job-embedded professional learning is provided to help the teachers learn various strategies and content to implement in their classrooms. Specials teachers have provided valuable input with different perspectives and approaches that teams may have yet to think to implement.  Additionally, the Specials teachers participate in data team meetings, faculty meetings, vertical team discussions, and leadership team meetings, allowing them to engage and encourage cross-curricular dialogue. Moreover, the Specials teachers also share valuable information with teachers about the students’ strengths, challenges, talents, and gifts that may not be noticeable in the general academic education classroom. This further helps as the Specials teachers provide additional intervention support for identified students who need Tier 2 and Tier 3 support during our school-wide I/E time.  


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Provided are the data for the NWEA Map Growth Assessment for 1st-5th grades.  We do not have data provided for all sub groups because of the small population of students within those categories.  

Kindergarten assessment data are also provided for their Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (GKIDS) assessment. 

Additional Data: Included are the data for the state assessment. This is additional data to provide a wholelistic view of various assessment data. 4th grade specifically shows a decline as the teacher left prior to testing and a long term sub was filling in. 

*2023 Georgia Title 1 Distinguished School 

**2023 Georgia PBIS Distinguished School

2021 Georgia Title 1 Reward School 

2020 Georgia Title 1 Reward School 

2011 National Blue Ribbon School 

*A Title I Distinguished School is a Title I school among the top 5% Schoolwide and top 5% Targeted Assisted Title I schools in the state that have the highest absolute performance for the all-students group based on the current statewide assessment.

**GaDOE trained schools implementing PBIS at the Distinguished level based on 2022-2023 EOY Recognition Criteria.