Wright Elementary School (2023)

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

Wright Elementary School is a small, rural elementary school in Anderson County, South Carolina. With a student population of approximately 200, Wright Elementary serves kindergarten through fifth grader students. In 2021, under the leadership of new Superintendent Jason Johns, Wright Elementary supported the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). This district-wide initiative shifted from a teacher-focused to learner-focused culture and ensured learning for all students. Through this journey, our school 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. We understood that creating communities of practice in areas that are practical to manage knowledge can be beneficial to our organization.

Moreover, learning communities help connect ideas from different areas within an organization. The community can learn from members of the entire system. Learning communities can define and solve problems.

In early 2020, our principal and other leaders attended the Summit on PLC at Work. Following the pandemic, in August 2021, the district initiated the efforts to establish a strong foundation for the PLC at Work process. All teachers at Wright Elementary School received copies of Learning by Doing (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, & Mattos, 2016) and participated in a book study, which further enabled the groundwork for the transition to PLCs district-wide. The learning-by-doing model is now in practice at our school.  

As we returned to 100% face to face learning, it was time to fully implement Professional Learning Communities in our school.  All staff participated in a Two Day Solution Tree Workshop on August 12-13, 2021. Led by Jonathan Vander-Els, the workshop aimed to introduce the key concepts and principles of the PLC framework to all educators within our district. This workshop allowed our teachers and staff to understand the big picture and the “why” of PLCs. It explained effective strategies and the importance of collaborative teams. Wright Elementary School came away from this conference with next steps, specifically deciding essential standards, creating assessments and unit plans, and developing SMART goals. 

Following the workshop, we recognized the importance of ongoing support and collaboration for successful implementation of Professional Learning Communities. Substitute teachers were provided 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.

Wright Elementary School took ownership of the PLC process by developing Collective Commitments and Team Norms. We decided that PLCs would be most successful by having a protected time to meet each Wednesday during a common time. By establishing these shared agreements, educators created a sense of collective responsibility and commitment to the PLC journey. Moreover, the schools within the district collaborated to identify the Essential Standards that would guide their instructional focus. This also led us to revisit and rewrite the Mission and Vision for our school. Our mission statement reads, “Wright Elementary School emphasizes the dedication of home, school, and community to provide students a safe and supportive environment in which they are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and life principles necessary to be successful both now and in the future” and our vision states  “Engage, Educate and Empower our learning community today for a successful tomorrow.”      

Collaboration and support among teachers is crucial at our school. To achieve this, our principal determined that it is important to set aside dedicated time during the school day for team collaboration and analysis of student data. This helped our teachers create tailored interventions for students who are facing difficulties in mastering essential standards. Ultimately, this approach benefited all students and ensured their success in the classroom.

Recognizing the need for strong leadership and guidance, Team Leads were selected from each school in August 2021. 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 Team Leads met regularly in monthly district-wide meetings where they discussed PLC practices, shared experiences, and received support and training.  

These team leads were a vital part in implementing the PLC process at Wright Elementary since our school is unique with singleton teachers and grade levels. We organized vertical collaborative teams. We have a kindergaten through second grade team, a third through fifth grade ELA team and a third through fifth grade math team. Each team has a team lead that created a data tracking sheet for each grade level within their team. (example under the resource tab) This tool tracks student data related to common formative and summative assessments created around grade level essential standards, benchmark assessments given three times each year, as well as intervention data for Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction for individual students. The collaborative teams meet weekly to discuss student progress towards essential standards, as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions and instruction, and enrichment instruction. All of the discussion is guided by the four critical questions. Each team lead creates a meeting agenda (see example under resource tab) for each meeting and begins each meeting by reviewing the team norms. The agenda keeps the team focused on each critical question. Our vertical teams are unique in that discussions are deeper when discussing what needs to be done when students do not master an essential standard and when they do master the standards. For example, during a kindergarten through second grade team meeting, a first grade student may not master the reading essential standard of knowing and applying grade level phonics when decoding words because they do not know all of their letter sounds. A kindergarten teacher or our reading interventionist will discuss interventions and strategies that can be implemented for this student. The vertical teams are especially helpful with math since the math essential standards build grade level by grade level. The discussions about intervention or enrichment offer specific strategies to ensure all students are engaged in high levels of learning. 

To further enhance their understanding of effective PLC practices, the principal and several staff members visited Catoosa County, Georgia. They observed the PLC practices implemented in the Model PLC District and learned valuable insights from their experiences, which they brought back to Wright Elementary.

In February 2022, the district funded for three staff members from Wright Elementary to attend 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. Staff 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 Critical Questions of PLCs.

In March of 2022, our principal, Mrs. Whitt, and another school administrator attended the K-12 Leadership Summit led by Janel Keating. The greatest takeaway from this time was understanding the importance of effectively leading a PLC culture and aligning with the district PLC initiative. Mrs. Whitt learned strategies for master scheduling, communicating school tight and loose expectations, developing success criteria, and administering common formative assessments. 

Moving into year two, the district continued to support and offer professional development for staff through Solution Tree. Wright Elementary  was able to use Title One funding to continue to provide professional development opportunities for teachers and staff in our school. In September 2022, Julie Schmidt was invited to present her "Yes We Can" workshop, which focused on building a positive and empowering culture within PLC teams. This process empowered our special education teachers to understand they were integral in our PLCs.

 In November 2022, the district sent our principal, Mrs. Whitt and the Reading Coach to the "Amplify Your Impact" conference in Charleston, SC. This provided a platform for our school leadership 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. Two teachers also attended “School Improvement for All” workshop in Charleston, SC. This allowed teachers and administrators to discover how to work together as teams of leaders to create systematic processes and implement best practices that ensure the learning of every student. Lastly, to strengthen subject-specific expertise and collaboration, one third grade teacher attended the Math PLC at Work conference in Houston in December 2022. This teacher returned with important takeaways from this conference to close the achievement gap in math at our school. 

Through these concerted efforts and a shared commitment to the PLC at Work process, Wright Elementary 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.

At Wright Elementary, 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.

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 our school come together with teachers and administrators from each school within the district 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. These meetings occur monthly and the grade level teams discuss the essential standards for each subject and develop curriculum resources and assessments based on these essential standards. Each grade level team creates a unit plan (see example under resource tab) that outlines the essential standard, prior skills or knowledge required, essential vocabulary, learning targets, learning that the team anticipates students will struggle with, assessment plan that includes learning target, common formative or summative assessment, success criteria, and tentative pacing, tier 2 re-engagement plan, and extension plan. As part of the unit plan, collaborative teams create common formative and summative assessments for each essential standard. Student progress is monitored through the formative assessments and any instructional changes are made based on this data prior to the summative assessment. For example, during a primary team meeting a first grade teacher discussed students struggling with the essential standard of subrtraction through 20. Kindergarten teachers suggested trying a different strategy that involved the use of manipulatives and/or number lines. These types of discussions have been instrumental in our students making progress. 

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. Any adjustments are also documented on the corresponding unit plans. 

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. Student performance data is tracked via a grade level data sheet. (example under resource tab)

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. An intervention plan is created for each student receiving tier 3 intervention. (see example under resource tab) This plan includes tier 2 intervention data, iReady diagnostic data, fastbridge diagnostic data (for reading intervention), intervention goal based on need, and progress monitoring data for the goal. 

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. Some examples of progress monitoring for reading include Fastbridge, easy CBM (curriculum based measures), and teacher created common formative assessments. Examples for math progress monitoring include easy CBM, Formative Loop, Bridges math, and Fastbridge. Grade level teams use specific data collection and we track the data on our electronic data sheet (example under resource tab). This data sheet is on display during collaborative team meetings which is a reminder that increases accountability for teachers and increases individual student achievement. 

Overall, we follow our district plan, which 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.

At Wright Elementary, 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. 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:

a. 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.

b. 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. 

c. 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. The first team is A-SIT, which is Academic School Intervention Team. The other is B-SIT, a behavior intervention team. Both teams consist of educators, administrators, and support staff who collaborate to develop intervention and extension plans for students. Our teams meet regularly to review student data, assess progress, and make decisions regarding appropriate interventions or extensions.

The teams use a data tracking sheet for these students (example under resource tab) and uses this data along with teacher input to decide next steps for each of these students. If the student is making progress in Tier 2 instruction then the student will continue to receive Tier 2 intervention as needed. If they are not making progress in Tier 2 intervention then the team will use Tier 1 and Tier 2 data to determine the student need and develop a Tier 3 intervention plan for this student. Students in Tier 3 are continually monitored through this same process. For example, a third grade student was not making progress with Tier 1 instruction. The classroom teacher immediately began Tier 2 instruction for esssential standards. Student data and progress was monitored and discussed through weekly collaborative meetings as well as monthly A-SIT meetings. The student was receiving Tier 2 from both his classroom teacher as well as an interventionist outside of the classroom. He continued to show no progress. The A-SIT team decided the student needed Tier 3 instruction and an intervention plan was created by the reading and math interventionist, in collaboration with the classroom teacher, to meet the needs of the student. The student continued to receive Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction within the classroom and received Tier 3 instruction outside of the classroom. Progress monitoring continued weekly. 

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 enrichment opportunities. 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.

At Wright Elementary, 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. We align our 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: Wright Elementary School uses a data-informed approach to drive decision making. We 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: We engage in collaborative planning to design instructional strategies and interventions that meet the diverse needs of our students. We 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 weekly meetings to discuss student data, instructional strategies, and best practices. These meetings foster a culture of shared responsibility and professional growth. At Wright Elementary our media specialist is a member of the kindergarten through second grade team as well as the third thorugh fifth ELA team. She collaborates with all teachers on ways to incoportate essential standards in her instruction. We have found that essential standards are easily integrated in the media center and when this occurs it helps with student mastery. Our other specials teachers (PE, Music, and Art) are all part-time at our school, but all collaborate with a specific grade level on a weekly basis in order to provide Tier 2 instruction. For example, our PE teacher collaborates with second grade in order to provide tier 2 instruction four days a week in the area of reading. 

Differentiated Instruction and Interventions: Our collaborative teams prioritize differentiated instruction and interventions to address the unique needs of each student. We analyze student data to identify students who require additional support or enrichment. Based on this analysis, our 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. We 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. We 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 our 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 our collective expertise and commitment, we create a culture of continuous improvement and ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Three times each school year we monitor student progress with district benchmarks through the iReady diagnostic. Over the past three years our K-2 has shown an average growth of 15% of on grade level achievement for reading. For math, first grade has shown a 28% increase of on grade level achievement, while kindergarten and second grade have maintained achievement while overcoming the challenges of Covid. After showing a significant amount of learning loss due to the pandemic, our third grade students have shown a steady increase in the number of students meeting mastery of the state reading and math assessments. Fourth and fifth grade have shown an overall increase in the percentage of students meeting and exceeding state reading and math standards. As Wright Elementary continues to strengthen the PLC at Work process, we expect our achievement to continue to outperform state averages. 

I have attached a copy of a grade level data sheet that tracks student mastery of essential standards and individual progress for two students during Tier 3 intervention. 

2021-2022 - Excellent Report Card Rating

2021-2022 - Palmetto Silver Award 

Cognia Accreditation 

Greenville Drive Reading All Stars