Belton Middle School (2023)
- Number of Students: 500
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 64%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 1%
- Percent of Special Education: 15%
- White: 69.6%
- Black: 16.6%
- Hispanic: 8.2%
- Asian: 0.4%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.2%
- Multiracial: 5%
- Other: 0%
Belton Middle School is a small town, rural middle school in Belton, South Carolina. BMS is one of two middle schools that serve students in Anderson School District Two. Anderson School District Two is a small rural district in Anderson County, South Carolina. With a student population of approximately 3,500, Anderson Two consists of one primary school, three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. In 2021, under the leadership of new Superintendent Jason Johns, Anderson Two decided to implement Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) district-wide to shift from a teacher-focused to learner-focused culture and ensure high quality learning for all ASD2 students. Through this journey, ASD2 realized there is a distinct value of communities of practice to organizations. The worth of interaction between people encourages the growth of the individual and enhances the ability to learn. New ways to manage problems are developed when a community collaborates and shares information. Sharing ideas that involve a solution to a common issue enhances the ability to explore new concepts. Sharing ideas is essential to success.
Belton Middle School embarked on implementing intentional PLC strategies slightly before the district implementation. In 2019, then BMS Principal, Mr. Josh Burton, attended the Culture Keepers: Principal Leadership in a PLC at Work Institute in Atlanta. Upon his return BMS teachers embarked on a jigsaw book study of Learning by Doing (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, & Mattos, 2016). In addition, weekly data meetings were scheduled on Thursdays in order to establish time for teachers to learn the collaboration process. At Belton Middle, PLC Teams took ownership by developing Collective Commitments and Team Norms during these initial implementation meetings. These shared agreements created a sense of collective responsibility and commitment to the PLC journey for all BMS teachers. In the middle of the initial implementation process, school was interrupted due to a global pandemic, BMS also saw the replacement of administration staff, Mrs. Katie King was named Principal and Mr. Ross Pruitt was named Assistant Principal in the Summer of 2021. After successfully navigating Covid and a change in administration, Belton Middle School moved forward with an increased PLC initiative implementation under the leadership of Superintendent Jason Johns, who had prior training and fully supported the standard practices of Professional Learning Communities.
Beginning in August 2021, with extensive district support, Belton Middle School took additional steps to further implement the PLC process. To kick start this journey, a two-day Solution Tree Workshop was organized at all the elementary schools, middle schools, and at Belton-Honea Path High School. This workshop aimed to introduce the key concepts and principles of the PLC framework to the educators within the district. BMS, along with the sister ASD2 middle school, collaborated to identify the Essential Standards that would guide their instructional focus. Following the workshop, the district recognized the importance of ongoing support and collaboration for successful implementation. To facilitate this, substitute teachers were provided so BMS content teachers could meet to ensure grade-level and departmental district-wide collaboration throughout the year. This allowed teachers to engage in meaningful discussions, share best practices, and deepen their understanding of the PLC process.
Recognizing the need for strong leadership and guidance, Team Leads were selected from each school in August 2021. BMS teachers, as leads, played a crucial role in forming the District PLC Guiding Coalition, which served as a driving force behind the PLC implementation process. The BMS Team Leads met monthly as part of district-wide meetings where they discussed PLC practices, shared experiences, and received support and training.
To further enhance their understanding of effective PLC practices, Belton Middle School sent two groups of administrators and teachers to visit Heritage Middle School in Catoosa County, Georgia. They observed the PLC practices implemented in the Model PLC District and learned valuable insights from their experiences. These visits drove the implementation of new PLC strategies for the 2022-2023 school year at BMS. Based on the strategies being implemented at Heritage Middle School, a new designated intervention time was established in the school schedule, intervention rewards for reaching benchmark milestones were implemented, and the process by which kids were drafted for intervention was recreated.
In February 2022, a group of administrators and team leads from BMS attended The Summit on PLC at Work in Phoenix. This national conference provided an opportunity for the Team Leads to learn from renowned PLC experts, engage in meaningful discussions, and gather innovative ideas to implement in their respective schools, energizing the initiative. Following the conference, the district organized the first Anderson Two PLC Summit in March 2022. This event took place during an in-service day. Team Leads that attended the Summit presented their key takeaways and insights to colleagues from around the district. This internal summit served as a platform for educators to exchange ideas, celebrate successes, and learn best practices. Teachers gleaned from the event clarity of the district's vision of PLCs and more enthusiasm for the process with a focus on the four key questions.
Moving into the 2022-2023 school year, BMS continued to provide meaningful targeted professional development opportunities for our teachers and administrators. In November 2022, the BMS sent representatives to the "Amplify your Impact" conference in Charleston, SC. This provided a platform for principals and PLC leads to explore leadership strategies, gain insights from other successful PLC districts, and bring back valuable knowledge to guide their schools' Collaborative PLC teams in their work. To strengthen subject-specific expertise and collaboration, representatives from BMS attended the Math PLC at Work conference in Houston in December 2022.
The 2022-2023 school year also saw the implementation of a full service iReady store to help encourage students to successfully complete iReady intervention lessons. Within the master schedule, W.I.N. (What I Need) was created during the 2nd period block. This time was created to have a focused intervention time, school wide to directly answer the two guiding PLC questions:
- What do we do if a student doesn’t master content?
- What do we do with students that master the content?
W.I.N. Time provided time to address individual students' needs, but also provide enrichment for students that did not require content intervention at that time. At BMS, a PLC Coordination Team was developed to oversee a process to draft students for W.I.N. Time. The draft was completed weekly and allowed for flexibility when determining how students received targeted interventions.
Through these concerted efforts and a shared commitment to the PLC at Work process, Belton Middle School built a strong foundation of shared understanding and commitment among educators. The ongoing collaboration, professional development opportunities, and exposure to successful PLC models have empowered teachers and administrators to work together towards a common goal of improving student learning and achievement for All.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
In Anderson School District Two, we have a process in place to create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum. This process ensures that all students have access to a high-quality curriculum that is aligned with standards and designed to promote their learning and achievement. Additionally, we have strategies in place to monitor student learning on a timely basis, allowing us to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. Belton Middle School teachers had played an integral role in helping to develop the monitoring process currently used in ASD2. To create a guaranteed and viable curriculum, we follow a systematic approach that involves collaboration, alignment, and ongoing review. Here is an overview of our process:
Collaborative Curriculum Development: Teachers and administrators from each school within the district come together to collaborate on curriculum development. This collaborative approach ensures that the expertise and perspectives of educators across grade levels and subjects are taken into account. It fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the curriculum.
Alignment with Standards: Our curriculum is aligned with state standards, district expectations, and learning goals. We carefully examine the standards and identify the essential knowledge and skills that students need to acquire at each grade level. This alignment helps us ensure that our curriculum is comprehensive and focused on key learning outcomes.
Curriculum Mapping: We use curriculum mapping tools and resources to document and organize our curriculum. This includes outlining the scope and sequence of content, identifying instructional resources and strategies, and mapping out assessments. Curriculum maps serve as a roadmap for teachers, providing a clear overview of what needs to be taught and when.
Ongoing Review and Reflection: We regularly review and reflect on our curriculum to ensure its effectiveness and relevance. This includes gathering feedback from teachers, analyzing student performance data, and seeking input from stakeholders. We use this feedback to make adjustments and improvements to the curriculum as needed.
To monitor student learning on a timely basis, we employ several strategies to gather data and assess student progress:
Formative Assessments: Teachers use formative assessments throughout the learning process to gather evidence of student understanding and skill development. These assessments are designed to provide immediate feedback to both teachers and students, allowing for timely adjustments to instruction.
Common Assessments: We implement common assessments across grade levels and subjects to ensure consistency and comparability. Common assessments allow us to monitor student learning on a larger scale and identify trends and patterns that inform instructional decisions.
Data Analysis: We analyze student performance data from assessments to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. This analysis helps us identify individual student needs, instructional gaps, and areas where interventions may be necessary.
Intervention and Differentiation: Based on the data analysis, we provide targeted interventions and differentiated instruction to students who require additional support or enrichment. This ensures that every student receives the necessary resources and strategies to meet their learning needs.
Progress Monitoring: We regularly track and monitor student progress to assess the effectiveness of instructional strategies and interventions. This includes monitoring individual student growth over time and adjusting interventions as needed.
Overall, our district uses a collaborative approach to develop a guaranteed and viable curriculum that is aligned with standards. We employ various strategies to monitor student learning on a timely basis, allowing us to make data-informed instructional decisions and provide targeted support to students. Through this process, we strive to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education and are supported in their learning and achievement.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
In Anderson School District Two, we are committed to providing students with additional time and support for learning through systems of intervention and extension. These systems are designed to address the diverse needs of our students, ensuring that every learner receives the necessary resources and opportunities to succeed. Belton Middle School teachers use the intervention strategies during W.I.N. time to meet the individual needs of students. Here's how we create and implement these systems:
Data-Driven Decision Making: We use a data-driven approach to identify students who may require intervention or extension. This includes analyzing student performance data from formative and summative assessments, benchmark assessments, and other sources. By examining data, we can identify students who may be struggling or excelling in specific areas and determine the appropriate level of support needed.
Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS): We have implemented a Multi-Tiered System of Support framework to provide targeted interventions and extensions. This framework consists of three tiers:
- Tier 1: Universal Instruction: All students receive high-quality instruction aligned with grade-level standards and best practices. Teachers use research-based instructional strategies and differentiation to meet the diverse needs of students in the general education classroom.
- Tier 2: Targeted Intervention: Students who require additional support beyond the core instruction receive targeted interventions in small groups. These interventions are designed to address specific skill gaps or provide additional practice and reinforcement. Teachers use evidence-based interventions and progress monitoring to track student growth and make instructional adjustments.
- Tier 3: Intensive Intervention: Students who require more intensive support receive individualized interventions tailored to their specific needs. These interventions may involve more frequent and intense instruction, personalized learning plans, or specialized programs. Intensive interventions are provided by intervention specialists or other trained personnel.
Response to Intervention (RTI) Teams: We have established Response to Intervention (RTI) teams at each school. These teams consist of educators, administrators, and support staff who collaborate to develop intervention and extension plans for students. The RTI teams meet regularly to review student data, assess progress, and make decisions regarding appropriate interventions or extensions.
Flexible Grouping and Scheduling: We utilize flexible grouping and scheduling to maximize instructional time and provide targeted support. Students are grouped based on their specific needs, allowing for differentiated instruction and targeted interventions. This may involve regrouping students for specific subjects or skills, providing additional time for intervention during the school day, or offering extended learning opportunities beyond regular classroom hours.
Collaboration and Professional Learning: Teachers collaborate within their grade-level or subject-area teams to share strategies, resources, and best practices for intervention and extension. Professional learning communities (PLCs) provide a forum for teachers to discuss student needs, analyze data, and develop instructional plans. Additionally, ongoing professional development opportunities are provided to equip educators with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective intervention and extension practices.
Family and Community Engagement: We involve families and the community in supporting student learning through intervention and extension. We communicate regularly with parents/guardians to keep them informed about their child's progress and provide resources for supporting learning at home. We also collaborate with community organizations and partners to offer additional resources and opportunities for students.
By creating and implementing systems of intervention and extension, we ensure that students receive the necessary time and support for learning. Through data-driven decision making, a multi-tiered system of support, collaboration, and family engagement, we strive to meet the unique needs of every student and help them reach their full potential.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
In Anderson School District Two, we place a strong emphasis on building teacher capacity to work as members of high-performing collaborative teams. These teams play a critical role in our efforts to improve student learning. Here's how our high-performing collaborative teams focus their efforts on improved student learning:
Shared Vision and Goals: Our collaborative teams have a shared vision and set clear goals for student learning. They align their efforts with the district's mission and vision, as well as the goals outlined in the school improvement plan. This shared understanding ensures that all team members are working towards a common purpose and are committed to improving student outcomes.
Data-Informed Decision Making: Our collaborative teams use a data-informed approach to drive their decision making. They analyze various forms of data, such as student assessments, classroom observations, and progress monitoring, to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. By examining data, teams can identify trends, patterns, and individual student needs, which inform their instructional practices and interventions.
Collaborative Planning: The teams engage in collaborative planning to design instructional strategies and interventions that meet the diverse needs of their students. They work together to develop common formative assessments, aligned with the curriculum and standards, to assess student progress and adjust instruction accordingly. Collaborative planning allows for the sharing of expertise, brainstorming of ideas, and the development of cohesive instructional plans.
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): Our collaborative teams function as professional learning communities (PLCs) where teachers engage in ongoing professional development and learning. PLCs provide a structured framework for collaboration, reflection, and continuous improvement. Teachers participate in regular meetings to discuss student data, instructional strategies, and best practices. These meetings foster a culture of shared responsibility and professional growth.
Differentiated Instruction and Interventions: Our collaborative teams prioritize differentiated instruction and interventions to address the unique needs of each student. They analyze student data to identify students who require additional support or enrichment. Based on this analysis, teams develop targeted interventions and extension activities to address individual student needs. Differentiated instruction ensures that every student receives the appropriate level of challenge and support to maximize their learning.
Ongoing Reflection and Assessment: Our collaborative teams engage in continuous reflection and assessment of their practices. They reflect on the impact of their instructional strategies and interventions on student learning outcomes. This reflective practice allows teams to make data-driven adjustments, share successes and challenges, and refine their approaches to better meet the needs of their students.
Supportive Team Environment: Our collaborative teams foster a supportive and positive team environment. They value open communication, trust, and respect among team members. This environment encourages collaboration, risk-taking, and the sharing of ideas. Teachers feel supported and empowered to contribute their expertise and learn from their colleagues, ultimately leading to improved student learning.
By focusing their efforts on a shared vision, data-informed decision making, collaborative planning, differentiated instruction, ongoing reflection, and a supportive team environment, our high-performing collaborative teams work together to improve student learning. Through their collective expertise and commitment, they create a culture of continuous improvement and ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
In the short time intentional PLC strategies have been implemented at Belton Middle School, positive growth in assessment scores have been noted at regular intervals. However, BMS has struggled with current educational obstacles. In the Fall of 2021, one of the 6th grade math teachers succumbed to health issues related to Covid and passed away leaving a vacated math position after the start of the school year. During the Summer of 2022, BMS had two math teachers and a special education teacher chose to move on to different opportunities late in the hiring season. Due to current teacher shortages in South Carolina, suitable replacements were not available and unfortunately, the positions were not filled. The loss of these excellent staff members left an instructional void that was filled by long-term substitutes and teachers doubling up on students. These circumstances were not ideal to meet the instructional needs of the students at BMS. In a positive turn, however, BMS will have a full staff during the 2023-2024 school year.