The Lane School (2023)

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

Our PLC Story began in 2018 as we welcomed our current Superintendent, Dr. Hector Garcia. Dr. Garcia’s background with Professional Learning Communities has been an asset to our district. Before 2018, many of our grade-level teams only met to lesson plan and discuss the logistics of teaching. Analyzing student assessments was not foreign to our staff, but it did not seem necessary with such high success rates at all our schools. It took an enhanced focus on transforming our already good schools into great schools through collaborative teaming and collective responsibility to truly open our eyes to the power of an effective PLC culture.

The Lane School has consistently seen high levels of student achievement for many years. The school was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education in 2011, primarily due to the impressive growth of Special Education students. Student achievement remained high for several years, fluctuating slightly each year. Although students continued to show exceptional performance, there needed to be a rhyme or reason for the outcomes portrayed on standardized tests. 

Transforming the culture of our building began with a focus on the four essential questions:

  1. What do we want our students to know and be able to do?

  2. How will we know if the students have learned it?

  3. How will we respond when some students do not learn it?

  4. How can we extend and enrich the learning for students who have reached proficiency?

We read “Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work” as a District Leadership team and discussed the importance of developing guiding coalitions at each building. We were fortunate to have Chris Jakicic, an educational consultant and author of several PLC texts, speak to our administrative team and share concrete strategies to help move our teams forward. She has since met with every The Lane School staff member in separate professional development sessions to guide and support our team members.

Before we could begin collaboration and reflection, we first needed to make some fundamental schedule changes to provide teams time to meet and discuss student progress. All grade-level collaborative teams now have at least 100 minutes per week to work together as an entire team. We also adjusted the class schedule to allow for uninterrupted 30-minute blocks each day for Targeted Learning Time (TLT). These blocks are consistent for all grade levels and provide time for staff to enrich and support all students.

Teams began their collaborative work by unpacking their Priority Standards and developing “I can statements” that are student-friendly. This work allowed them to focus their attention on designing common formative assessments that address these priority standards and serve as temperature checks throughout units of study. Collaborative teams develop SMART goals for instruction units and utilize these common formative assessments to determine the next steps for all students. Teams celebrate student successes when they achieve their SMART goals and reflect on improvement areas. We understand that our work is never complete, as continuous improvement is the path that will help our students succeed in life beyond our doors. The collaboration continues weekly, as we will not be satisfied until 100 percent of our students achieve their highest level.


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

1. Monitoring Student Learning on a Timely Basis

Collaborative teams have created and continue to adjust common formative assessments to address the priority standards essential to student success. These assessments provide “temperature checks” throughout units of instruction. As students complete each CFA, collaborative teams meet to grade the assessments, analyze the data, and determine which students may need intervention and benefit from enrichment. Conversations regarding how each teacher taught the lesson and how students performed help improve student learning for future classes and future units of instruction.

Our teams have developed agenda documents that help facilitate this communication much more efficiently (see ELA Agenda). Support staff, including English Language teachers, Special Education resource teachers, Differentiation Specialists, and other service providers, utilize this information to determine which students to support during our Targeted Learning Time (TLT). This document also serves as a historical document to reflect on previous challenges and successes.

Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) tests are also delivered three times a year, and the data from these assessments guide individual goal setting for students in grades 1 through 5. Students are aware of their areas for growth and relative strength and use this information to help drive action plans during independent work time. The increased ownership has played a role in increasing student accountability and confidence. 


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

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

Targeted Learning Time is a 30-minute block of time that is consistent each day for every grade level. This time is protected, as it is the primary time students receive intervention and enrichment support. TLT times are structured to provide students with the appropriate amount of individualized support. Students will meet with a staff member in a small group to work on differentiated lessons that focus on a skill deficit. These groups are fluid and can change regularly.

Our TLT process can dynamically change from interventions to enrichment based on the needs of our students. Students are placed into Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports based on our MTSS process, which determines the appropriate level of support based on multiple data points. This standard is consistent across the district and has been integral in helping to find the actual value of intervention strategies used for various student concerns. Students are only provided Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions during times that do not impact core lessons or other grade-level TLT times. This system ensures that we can efficiently schedule new student interventions and dismiss students who no longer need intense support.


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

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

Creating high-performing collaborative teams begins with having the right people “on the bus.” Our thorough hiring process allows us to attract and retain qualified educators who understand the importance of collaboration concerning student success. Our staff often refers to themselves as “The Lane School Family,” and we operate in a manner that helps us to support the tight expectations of a Professional Learning Community while still caring for one another. We often use the concept of “care enough to confront” one another to address the concern of any staff member not pulling on the same end of the rope. We want all staff members to be successful, so we will work together to ensure that we are all doing what is best for our students and what has been agreed upon as a building team.

All collaborative teams meet weekly during shared planning time to discuss student data and plan for instruction. Norms have been established at the beginning of the year to provide expectations and roles for all members. Team members value each others’ time and contributions and recognize each other. We also meet multiple times each school year as an entire building to articulate between grade levels.


Illinois Report Card 2022-2023 Exemplary School Designation

IAHPERD Blue Ribbon: 2012-2017, 2018-2023, 2024-2029

Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School 2011