Benton Intermediate School (2023)
- Number of Students: 822
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 29.68%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0.12%
- Percent of Special Education: 23.97%
- White: 75.18%
- Black: 13.02%
- Hispanic: 7.06%
- Asian: 1.58%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.36%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 2.8%
- Other: 0%
***PROMISING PRACTICES SCHOOL***
Benton Intermediate School opened in 2020 after a school reconfiguration in which two of the schools feeding into the new campus were two of the first PLC model schools in the state of Louisiana. This coupled with the fact that the Principal and Instructional Coach had both emerged from these two PLC Model School campuses and were instrumental in guiding their teams through the PLC at Work process, created a unique PLC journey. It was a new campus, but a majority of the teachers and staff had previously been operating as a high-functioning Professional Learning Community.
Focusing on the Right Work
In the beginning, it was important to provide professional development for the teachers who were new to the PLC at Work process- essentially an induction for these teachers. It was important for the teachers to know the “Why” behind the systems and structures that were in place so they would be committed to moving our vision forward- becoming the highest performing school in the state. It was equally important for the teachers who had been operating as high functioning PLC to revisit some of the core framework. Administration attended a day of professional development by Brandon Jones that was designed for schools who had already embarked on the journey. Administration redelivered “Revisiting PLCs and RTI at Work” to the entire faculty on one of the in-service days. The topics revisited included The 3 Big Ideas, the 4 critical questions, and a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). The benefit of this professional development was two-fold; The new teachers had a much greater understanding of the framework and it was reassurance to our returning teachers that we were focusing on the “right work.”
Sustaining the Work
The guiding coalition team continues to be instrumental in sustaining the work. The team uses the “Learning by Doing” book as the playbook. The team started back at the beginning in Chapter 1 and assessed the level of implementation by using the continuums that were included at the conclusion of each chapter. The team used the feedback generated from these continuums to create an action plan to address any areas where we still had room for improvement in order to meet the criteria for “sustaining”, the highest level of implementation. As the team moved through the chapters, the team would also revisit the previous action plans to monitor progress towards our goals.
Celebrating the Work
Celebrations have played an important role in creating a growth mindset and a culture of continuous improvement since the staff sees the connection between their work and school improvement. Content teams analyze assessment data, set goals, create action plans, revisit the action plans quarterly, and then celebrate the teams’ wins. The new year is always kicked off with an awards ceremony to celebrate with team awards for a wide range of achievements from the Most Improved Team to the Highest Performing Team. The focus on team awards rather than individual achievements also helps articulate the importance of the entire team working collaboratively to accomplish our goals.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Ensuring a guaranteed and viable curriculum means getting clear about what students “must learn”, allocating adequate time to master these skills/standards, developing common assessments to monitor progress, and implementing a system of interventions to provide additional support to students who aren’t there yet.
Frequently monitoring student learning and providing feedback are also critical components of our Professional Learning Communities. From checks for understanding embedded into daily instruction to periodically administered common formative assessments, the teams accomplish the work of monitoring student understanding through a variety of tools.
Checks for understanding can include informal assessments such as teacher observations, anecdotal records, rubrics for classroom discussions/writings, exit tickets, response boards, writing conferences, questioning techniques/strategies, digital platforms like Kahoot! or Quizizz, student work samples, proficiency scales, or even hand signals. Teachers use this information to clarify misconceptions while the initial learning is taking place in the tier 1 setting.
Common formative assessments are another tool our teacher teams use to assess the learning throughout instructional units. Prior to teaching the unit, teams identify the essential learning and build assessments that allow students to demonstrate proficiency on identified standards. Once the assessment is created, teachers use backwards design to ensure students are learning the skills they will need to successfully master the essentials of the unit. All teachers in the same grade level and content area administer the assessment to their students.
Transparency in data is another important factor in monitoring student learning. Each CFA is administered on a platform that allows data sharing in the form of digital collaboration groups. Teams analyze shared reports to identify trends, strengths, and gaps in learning. Being armed with this information allows teams to create very intentional intervention and extension groups based on individual student needs.
We also administer benchmark assessments throughout the year to check student progress toward their year long learning goals. The data obtained from benchmark assessments help us to create action plans for students that are not making sufficient progress.
Students are also provided time to track and reflect on their progress. After assessments are administered, students utilize a self-reflection form and data tracking sheet. The purpose of these tools are to encourage intrinsic motivation, allow students to take ownership in their learning, and to celebrate growth. After the students self-reflect, teachers conference with them to review progress towards current goals or set new goals if the old ones are obtained.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Targeted interventions and meaningful extensions are vital in ensuring that every child on campus achieves success. At Benton Intermediate, we utilize a multi-tiered system of support to accomplish this important work. Tier 1 interventions take place in the classroom as a result of informal assessments that are embedded throughout core instruction. Teachers use a variety of techniques to check student understanding and give “on the spot” Tier 1 interventions to clarify misconceptions daily.
Data driven extensions and Tier 2 interventions are administered through our Flex Focus system. Flex Focus is a 30-minute protected instructional period in which students are either provided extension or intervention lessons as determined by results of common formative assessment data. Students who perform proficiently on their CFA attend extension lessons designed to challenge them and deepen their understanding of the concepts being taught in the Tier 1 classroom. Students who score below the proficiency target on grade level work are assigned to a Tier 2 focus group for intervention. These intervention lessons are created intentionally for the purpose of addressing a specific area of weakness that each student in the group is struggling with. After the reteaching of these standards takes place, students are then given the opportunity to reassess. Tier 2 focus groups are very fluid and can change weekly as dictated by student need. The intervention lessons are taught by highly-effective teachers who are experts in the specific content area being remediated. We also provide Tier 2 support for our intentional non learners. These are students who are capable of doing grade level work but lack motivation. Teachers are able to assign students to Study Hall for protected time in which they can complete missing or incomplete assignments.
Our team has also created a Tier 3 system to address students that have considerable gaps in learning from previous years. Through the data obtained from state placement tests, standardized testing results from the previous year, benchmark assessment data, and diagnostic data, students are assigned to intensive Tier 3 interventions provided 2-3 times per week. The teachers in these classes are highly-effective, certified teachers with years of successful experience working with struggling students. These classes are more static, but can change depending on the progress of each student.
At Benton Intermediate, we understand that effectively incorporating appropriate interventions and extensions for each child on campus leads to higher levels of student success. Through collectively committing to implementing meaningful and engaging instructional practices at each tier, constructing a schedule that protects our multi-tiered system of support, and operating as a highly functioning PLC, we have created a culture that not only maximizes student growth through intervention and extension, but also increases teacher capacity.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Ensuring the primary focus of our collaborative teams is student learning requires establishing very clear parameters and developing collective commitments that guide the right work. We use Learning by Doing as our road map for addressing the critical issues that teams must consider in order to guarantee learning is prioritized. By adhering to team norms and utilizing the 4 questions to anchor our conversations, we are able to maximize the effectiveness of teacher collaboration on student achievement.
Creating Team Norms
Each grade level content team creates three to four norms based on their team's individual needs. Teams develop their norms to promote trust, open lines of communication, and provide clear expectations for member behaviors. Teams have the autonomy to reevaluate and revise norms as needed.
What is it we want our students to know and be able to do?
At Benton Intermediate, we believe the adage, “clarity precedes competence”. It is essential each team member becomes crystal clear in understanding what students must learn. Teams work together to identify the knowledge that should be obtained over the course of the class, to recognize which topics in the content can be eliminated to maximize instructional time, to sequence lessons effectively, and to prioritize high leverage concepts. Once the essential learning has been determined, teams develop assessments and tasks that allow students to demonstrate mastery of the learning. Teams use backwards design as they create their daily lessons and activities.
How will we know if each student learned it?
Teams administer common formative assessments throughout the year. These assessments are intentionally created to determine student mastery of the essential learning. By setting a proficiency standard in each content and grade level, teams are able to easily see if students have mastered the content. Analyzing data through shared team reports facilitates transparency and accountability across the grade level. By dissecting the data collectively, teams are better able to determine common misconceptions and contributing factors to student strengths and weaknesses. Team members are also able to improve their instructional capacity by reflecting on their practice and sharing strategies with their teammates.
How will we respond when some students do not learn it?
Once data has been collected and the team has analyzed results, teams are able to use the proficiency standard to determine whether or not students have learned the key concepts. Once students with Tier 2 gaps are identified and assigned to a focus group with other students struggling on the same skills. Highly-effective teachers are able to provide targeted interventions to help these learners master the standards. After reteaching has occurred, students are allowed to retest.
How will we extend the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency?
Teachers use common formative assessment data proficiency standards to identify students that have mastered the essential learning. These students are assigned to extension groups that provide them with rigorous activities and instruction designed to challenge and deepen understanding of the skills that are being taught in Tier 1.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
BIS had a significantly higher percentage of Mastery+ scores than the state in every subgroup category reported.
Economically Disadvantaged: 41% of the tests for this subgroup were Mastery or above.
The percentage of Mastery scores increased from 2022 to 2023 in 7 out of the 8 subgroup categories reported.
Louisiana Top Gains School:
Top Gains schools are those demonstrating exceptional student progress earning an for “A” for student progress, ensuring that students meet or exceed their learning goals each year. Top Gains schools must also not be persistently struggling with specific group of students or student behavior.
Level 1 certification means Benton Intermediate School has created a “Safe, Supportive, and Collaborative Culture,” which is the foundation for every level that follows. Without such a culture, student achievement will be compromised. (Excerpt from the HRS Press Release)
Purple Star School: