Blanton Elementary (2023)
- Number of Students: 531
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 7.1%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 4.9%
- Percent of Special Education: 9.9%
- White: 72.8%
- Black: 4.9%
- Hispanic: 14.3%
- Asian: 3.9%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 3.9%
- Other: 0%
Our campus started several years ago understanding the difference between simply meeting as a team and working as professional learning teams within our school community. This began in the 2016 school year after we searched for ways to refine our systems, goals, and gain clarity on how we will move students forward. This was a struggle at first and required us to examine our habits and beliefs, the results we were getting from our current practices, identify our own change process, and develop a path forward. Our campus serves students PreK-5. We are fortunate to have additional special program staff, including G/T, art, music, and PE. We have multiple dyslexia teachers, a self-contained special education classroom, speech therapist, and two special education inclusion teachers.
When thinking of our entire staff body, we consider ourselves the Professional Learning Community. Our PLC is made up of smaller Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) which are primarily broken down by grade level. Our PLTs develop goals respective to their grade level curriculum, student needs, essential standards, and historical information as students progress throughout their academic career on our campus. The PLTs function in harmony with each other to contribute to our larger PLC community.
We have evolved and grown in our understanding starting with how we operate as a PLT, the purpose of our time and direction, and even use the 4 questions to guide our work as professionals. We still need to be able address what we want to learn, how we will know, how we remediate, and how we extend and develop our learning community together. Although Blanton Elementary School is one Professional Learning Community, the work of the smaller Professional Learning Teams drives our day-to-day instruction as teams continually meet to address their respective needs. With the help of support staff across our campus joining the PLTs, we draw on the expertise and experience of every staff member to contribute to our community PLC. There are clear differences when operating as a Professional Learning Team and not simply a “team meeting”. It is not just meeting with an agenda or goals, it is coming together with a very clear purpose of each individual part of the PLT and our systems/processes to move students forward.
After clarifying our roles, purposes, and differences in team meetings to work through operational tasks (which are very important to the function of our school), we jumped into the work as PLTs operating within our PLC. Over the last 10 years, our staff has taken part in professional learning through PLC at Work conferences and last year had 17 staff members attend RtI at Work. Administrators, classroom teachers, interventionists, and special education staff all took part in this critical learning. Together we began to refine our beliefs on “all means all” and guaranteeing Tier 1 instruction across the board. Having the unrelenting focus to commit to the “process” felt uncomfortable at times, but we believed in the long-term results and value to our students. We know that without adhering to the PLC process we may be good, but our desire is to be great!
The challenges presented in the spring of 2020 brought a different layer and hurdle to education. Our teachers, still committed to the work, met virtually while we were off campus to refine our essential standards in math. Through this work, our professional capacity grew when teacher leaders in specific grades continued to meet with those in other grade levels to maintain the integrity of the process and ensure we were adhering to protocols like R.E.A.L. when defining our essentials. We developed CFAs and intervention/extension resources aligned to our essentials and fully implemented math first. In the years following, we began to go through this process in other subjects like reading and writing and have now moved to address behavior.
Simultaneously, our staff formed our Guiding Coalition to direct our instructional practices and beliefs and ensure we are accountable to the work and committed to the process. Our campus leadership team (CLT) is comprised of professionals, para-professionals, district administrators, parents and community members. The CLT is charged with conducting an annual needs assessment (CNA) and utilizing that assessment data to develop a campus improvement plan. This structure enables our campus to facilitate continuous improvement, aligning our campus goals to both our district/board goals as well as the specific needs of each grade level PLT. We have lived by the Taking Action book and apply the practices to all subject areas, including behavior, and view our campus as one body, a PLC, that works together to improve outcomes for all students.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
In order to effectively monitor student learning, our campus considered how effectively we could answer Q1 and Q2. This process started in the 2017-2018 school year when we grappled with identifying essential standards within our curriculum. We struggled, like many campuses, to get away from “important” information and move to a clear process of identifying essential curriculum by using the R.E.A.L. acronym. This was not an easy process, but it required us to look intentionally at every standard taught and determine the readiness, endurance, assessment, and leverage value of each. This took multiple years to sort through and is something we come back to each year-not assuming what we did the year prior is always going to be the current needs of our students. Although a majority of our essentials stay the same, the professional practice of revisiting our essentials and the process to choose them keeps our purpose at the forefront.
The identified essential standards in academics and behavior are what we consider to be our guaranteed curriculum for all students. The viability comes through our commitment to scheduling time and dedicating our resources to ensure the learning occurs. If we don’t position ourselves to leverage every staff member and every moment of the day to the learning, we cannot say we have a guaranteed curriculum.
We gauge a student’s understanding of a concept through developing quality CFAs which match the rigor of learning with our process standards and provide the student an opportunity to demonstrate mastery. The assessments are calibrated with teams to ensure the same understanding and expectation of student mastery is consistent across our grade levels. Our units “begin with the end in mind” with planned dates for our CFAs and embedded observations or student exit-tickets along the way. These are done in small learning blocks throughout the year so that students have enough time to respond to the instruction without being overwhelmed or getting behind on the next units.
Our essential standards, the learning progressions that go with them, and the CFAs are reviewed during grade level PLTs and our vertical PLTs. We do this so that we aren’t intentionally creating gaps for our students and so we are clear as a campus what we want students to learn.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Over the last several years, our campus has adjusted our schedule to respond to the needs of students. In this area, we operate from Q3 and Q4 – “how will we respond when students do not learn a concept” and “how will we extend the learning for those who are already proficient”, respectively. To fully meet the needs of all students, we involve our entire campus staff.
We hold regular, on-going MTSS meetings which are initiated by classroom teachers based on CFA data and other forms of data collection through the classroom. We involve our special education staff and other instructional specialists on campus to provide additional ideas and resources to bolster Tier 1 instruction, help develop Tier 2 instruction, and consider Tier 3 instruction for students in need. We have designated time throughout each day in every grade level to support this work.
During this time, we are able to use our special areas staff (art, music, PE, etc.) and have other resources like our counselor and high school mentors. Our paraprofessional staff are also involved in the work. For many students, they are able to build and maintain positive relationships with multiple staff members throughout their time on our campus regardless of if they are the designated classroom teacher.
When our grade level teams meet in PLTs, they determine student proficiency based on the CFA scores. Interventions are designed by-student-by-need, based on our identified essentials. Students start at the foundation of Tier 1 instruction. Based on the needs of the student and through collaboration with the grade level PLTs, our teachers share students to maximize the instructional practices of each other in order to push each student to higher levels, including extending their learning. We don’t always try to skip ahead to the next grade level of content for students who are already proficient. Our belief is centered around a skyscraper analogy-we want students to fully explore the floor and all of the rooms before going up to the next level. For students who do not demonstrate mastery on the first given assessment, they continue to have intervention throughout the year until data determines they have met the standard for grade level proficiency.
Our intervention and extension are not just limited to traditional subject areas, but also include social, emotional, and behavioral learning. We intervene in these areas as well, using the expertise of our campus behavioral staff to support students to grow and develop with their peers.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Building teacher capacity starts with our hiring practices. We believe every staff member is accountable to all students, regardless of position or title. Believing all students can learn is a non-negotiable pre-requisite before joining our campus family. Through this belief, we develop our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly instructional practices to meet the needs of every student.
Leveraging our Guiding Coalition and CIP process, we identify areas of need for our students - social, emotional, behavioral, and academic - to be addressed throughout the year. Although each team has designated weekly PLT to refine, reflect, and respond and work through the 4 questions, we have established multiple professional teams to target areas such as assessment, behavior, language arts learning progressions, and math learning progressions. This process is led by our staff in after school or half-day PLTs. Our district adopted a calendar which allows our campuses to engage in professional learning monthly at least one half-day each month throughout the school year. Staff have the opportunity to grow horizontally, but also support each other vertically to support student learning.
Identifying areas like the ones mentioned above, we build capacity by using our campus experts to sharpen the skills and understanding across our entire building. Teachers and staff are not just bound to their grade level or content areas. They lead our campus in professional development building capacity for all. Using identified essential standards in each grade level and reflecting on the 4 essential questions, we work as a professional learning community to grow our students from PreK-5th grade in all areas.
Achievement Data Files
2021-2022 - Top 25 Percent: Comparitive Closing the Gaps
2018-2019 - Top 25 Percent: Comparitive Academic Growth
2018-2019 - Top 25 Percent: Comparitive Closing the Gaps
2016-2017 - Academic Achievement in Science