West Middle School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources
We began our PLC journey in the 2006-07 school year by first getting all staff members educated by doing:  book studies, attending a Solution Tree PLC institute or summit, bring Mike Mattos to the Portage Schools to speak or by doing a school visit to the Buffalo Grove area.   Over a 2.5 year period every staff member were involved in at least two of these items.  During this period we began to look critically at our practices and began to develop essential standards for each course and look at creating a systematic response to students that were struggling.  We continue to learn and do more things to help students learn.  We do not wait to implement new ideas; rather we have an action research mentality.  (See our timeline attached in the resources section).
  • As we have continued our PLC journey, the focus has dramatically changed from we taught “it” students should know it, to a focus on did the students learn it.
  • A result of this thinking is our major collective commitment to each other and the students.  West Middle School staff believe that all students can learn, and we will provide extra time and support for those that need it.
  • We continue to take time at all meetings to allow for teacher collaboration and sharing of instructional strategies.  Good job embedded professional development. 
  • Due to our work with Solution Tree and our PLC journey, the staff is more willing to explore alternative and creative solutions and less likely to see problems as roadblocks.
  • Students are more involved in their own learning.
  • The leadership capacity of our school has increased exponentially which includes some building coaching roles.
  • Trust has been built, therefore allowing staff to have difficult conversations about student learning and teaching practices.  Therefore teaching in isolation is a thing of the past and collaborative work is a focus.  Teachers have become more willing to share strategies and resources.
  • As a result of our work, the other two middle schools in the district have created academic extension periods and have developed growth mindset on student learning.
  • As our PLC practices have evolved, we are able to provide assurances and reassurances to parents that we have systems in place to address the needs of all students.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Common curriculum: The District has developed a common core curriculum that aligns with state standards. This ensures that all students have access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum regardless of the teacher to whom they are assigned.  In each core area, the teachers have identified the essential standards (What do we want kids to know?).

Common grade level assessments: Common assessments have been created by collaborative teams of teachers which assess the essential learnings. Common assessments have been written for each course at each grade level for all courses offered in our building. In addition to the common assessments that have been developed in our building, the District has developed quarterly summative assessments which are administered in core academic areas.

The departments have created common formative and summative assessments based on the essential learnings. Common summative assessments have been created at both the District level and building level. District Level assessments tend to be more broad, while building level assessments are more specific to essential standards that have been identified by content partners (teachers who teach the same subject and the same grade level of that subject area). Both the District level assessments and the building level assessments serve to guide curricular planning and instructional decisions.

Realizing that summative assessments were only valuable in showing which students learned the content after the fact, departmental teams and content partners have been creating formative assessments to help guide ongoing instructional decisions (How do we know if they have learned it?). In addition, they utilize the results of common formative assessments as well as checks for understanding to guide instruction and interventions on a daily and/or weekly basis. Much time and effort has been dedicated to helping content teams understand the difference between summative and formative assessments, as well as the use and purpose of each type of assessment in the instructional cycle. While some individuals and departmental teams have an advanced understanding of the application and response to different types of assessment data, all teaching staff have a solid foundation of the basic principles. With a firm foundation of the use and purpose of summative and formative assessment, departmental teams are making headway at a much faster and steadier pace than when we first began this process.

Universal screening tools: A school-wide universal screening process that includes detailed diagnostic testing is used to identify students below benchmark in reading and math. This process includes the use of a variety of tools including components of  Renaissance Learning’s STAR reading and math 3 times a year for all students.  For writing the teachers have created benchmark assessments given to all students.

Quarterly grade reporting: The school provides report cards to parents/guardians at the end of each 9 week marking period. Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled to coincide with the ends of the 1st and 3rd marking periods which allows parents/guardians to receive more detailed information from teachers about their child’s progress in each course.

Skyward Portal: This portal is an individualized on-line grade book accessible to students and parents which provides current detailed grade information for each course. This is an important communication tool between home/school and parent/child. It is also used as a self-advocacy tool for students to become more involved in monitoring their progress.

Collaborative weekly monitoring: In the 2009-2010 school year, a re-allocation of resources led to the development of a new full-time position (Student Assistance Program Coordinator) to help support our PLC initiatives. One of the coordinator’s responsibilities includes weekly monitoring of the progress of every student in the building.  We continue to staff the building with a full-time Coordinator as well as a one hour release for a Reading Coordinator and Math Coordinator to do weekly checks on student progress and to work with small groups or individual students struggling in these areas.

Recognition of student progress: Students who are currently receiving support through the building-wide system of interventions are continually recognized and praised for their efforts and gains no matter how small. This recognition includes, but is not limited to, personalized notes addressed to the student, formal letters sent home to parents, Positive Pioneer tickets and in-class celebration of individual success. In addition to the frequent individual student recognitions, the teaching staff celebrates student success at faculty meetings periodically throughout the school year.  

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.

Several years ago a PRTI Steering Committee, made up of faculty from each discipline and grade-level area, was established to guide the staff relative to PRTI. This team mets several times per year to evaluate student achievement data and the effectiveness of strategies embedded in the PRTI process. In addition, this group conducts research and investigates best practice interventions to enhance what is already in place (this may include suggestions for professional development).  This team has now given way to the Building Intervention Monitoring Team (BIMT) that meets monthly to look at the implementation of our academic and behavioral interventions.

We continue to have a 30 minute period for Extended Time and Support (XTS) every day of the week.  This was worked into our daily schedule by taking approximately 4 minutes from each of the 7 class periods. Currently the 30 minute XTS period occurs between 6th and 7th hours, when the majority of our teaching staff is available in the building. During this time, students can be “summoned” by a teacher (based upon a student’s demonstrated achievement or lack thereof), or make a personal request, to return to any course/teacher for which they may be experiencing difficulty. Data has indicated that approximately 35% of our students are either summoned/directed by a teacher, or elect to go to a particular teacher for help on a daily basis.

In addition, this time is also utilized for re-teaching concepts for small groups of students who had difficulty with a common formative assessment; need to re-take a test, or need more help with make-up work from absences. Staff with the same courses will occasionally swap students in order to create more intensive, explicit instructional opportunities when needed. For example, two teachers who have recently taught the quadratic equation may have found that 12 students had real difficulty with the concept. The two teachers will agree on an alternate instructional strategy to re-teach the concept…and which of the two may best deliver the instruction. One teacher will then take all of the XTS students in one class, while the other is then freed up to re-teach the quadratic to the twelve struggling students from their two classes…this is done at the direction of the teachers; not “voluntary” on the part of the student. Similar swapping of students occurs across many of the content areas and is rooted in the four foundational questions:

  1. What do we want students to learn?
  2. How do we know if they have learned it?
  3. How do we respond if they don’t?
  4. How do we respond if they already know it?

For students who have been identified through our universal screener in Reading as needing more help – they have been directed to report to a reading teacher during XTS time who utilizes the time to deliver more intense, best practice interventions for reading.  In this setting we use a Peer Assisted Reading Strategy.   The progress of these students is carefully monitored and adjusted as needed. We also have math teachers teaching a strategic math course for students that need some help during this time period 2-3 days a week.

Students who do not need intervention on any given day use the time to work on homework or silent sustained reading. We have also offered enrichment activities during XTS for students who have completed all of their homework and have achieved a certain grade (e.g. – B or better). Such activities have included becoming a tutor to help other students, open basketball in the gym, various other physical activities, jazz band practice, additional time in woodworking and art, or to be engaged in student government and community service opportunities (knitting winter hats for needy).

Last and certainly not least, the school has re-shuffled its staffing in order to create a Student Academic Assistance Coordinator who monitors our entire PRTI process…from the system used to direct students where to go on a daily basis, to the specific interventions designed for our students with the greatest need…and everything in between. The school frequently communicates the success and challenges of the PRTI program with staff and parents in a variety of ways.

6th Grade transition activities : A multitude of programs are in place to support the transitions from elementary to middle school.

  • Parent Night: A presentation for 5th grade parents about our curriculum and Pyramid of Interventions
  • 5th Grade Visits: A presentation and tour for the 5th grade students about the daily schedule, middle school expectations, and activities
  • Data Transfer: A report/compilation of data and anecdotal information provided by the feeder elementary schools for the middle school staff
  • Orientation/Open House: A hands-on opportunity for students to meet their teachers, get their lockers, and become familiar with our building before school begins in the fall
  • 6th Grade Party: An after-school activity designed to help acclimate the students to future all-school events
  • In-Class Transition Activities: Teacher-led activities to acclimate the students to daily school routines (eg. Lunch procedures, familiarity with student handbook, passing time, time management, school personnel)
  • During the 15-16 school year, we are going to pilot a Student Mentor/Ambassador program where a group of 8-10 6th grade students will be assigned a 7th or 8th grade mentor to meet with weekly during our XTS period.  The intention is to assist the 6th grade students with their transition to middle school and to help them be connected with at least 1 7th or 8th grade student in middle school.

9th Grade transition activities: A multitude of programs are in place to support the transitions from middle school to high school.

  • ACT Explore & EDP: An interactive presentation for 8th graders tying their ACT Explore results and EDP together for high school planning
  • High School Counselor Visits: A presentation for the 8th graders to learn about programming, graduation requirements, and 9th grade scheduling
  • Parent Night: A high school presentation for 8th grade parents about the high school curriculum
  • Data Transfer: A report/compilation of data and anecdotal information provided for the high school staff
  • High School Visits: A structured group of at-risk students visiting their respective high schools to meet support personnel and tour the building.
  • Our middle school students split to 2 different high schools.  One school has a Link Crew and the other a Student Ambassador program where juniors and senior are assigned to a group of 8-10 incoming freshman.  During these meetings mentor and expectations of the high schools are relayed to the 9th graders.

Extended Time and Support (XTS): XTS is a daily 30 minute period during the school day for the purpose of providing additional time and support for students demonstrating need.

  • XTS Objectives
  • XTS provides opportunities for extended learning and intervention for all students.
  • XTS supports the WMS building goal of increased reading proficiency/fluency by providing more time for students to read through Sustained Silent Reading (SSR).
  • XTS will provide time and opportunities during the school day to address the needs of students who have not finished learning in the time permitted during a regular class period.
  • XTS supports the WMS implementation of the Pyramid of Interventions.
  • XTS supports the WMS building goal of increasing student achievement in basic skills which is essential for continuous improvement.
  • XTS is for (including, but not limited to the following)
  • All forms of intervention and extended learning
  • Improving reading proficiency/fluency (SSR, PAR4, Six Min solutions, Vocab development, etc.)
  • Test taking and re-taking
  • Quiz taking and re-taking
  • Skill reinforcing
  • Concept practice/understanding
  • Remediation
  • Homework assignments
  • Creating connections with kids
  • Differentiated instruction for reluctant and struggling learners
  • Extension and/or enrichment activities
  • Organizational skills
  • Math interventions
  • Content collaboration

Team/parent meetings: Team/parent meetings are held as needed to address the needs of individual students who may benefit from a more structured home/school partnership.

Network of Outside Resources: Partnerships have been formed to address the needs of students who are impacted by social/emotional/academic struggles that are difficult to address with limited building resources. These partnerships offer student support both at school and in the home dependent upon the individual student’s circumstances. Some of these resources include District support (eg. Behavior intervention specialists, assistive technology specialist, AI consultants, Speech/language consultants, Liaison officer) and community support (eg. Community Mental Health, truancy officer, Portage Community Center, emergency support hotline).

Pyramid Response to Interventions (PRTI): PRTI integrates classroom assessment, universal screening devices, and interventions within a multi-level prevention system aimed at maximizing the academic achievement of all students. Students who are identified as needing additional time and support are closely monitored and provided with evidence-based interventions. The intensity and frequency of those interventions are adjusted depending on how the student responds to the intervention. Below is a list and description of the various interventions in place in the 2014-15 school year:

Academic Watch:  Students with grades below 70% are monitored weekly by a member of the academic support team.  Students with three or more grades below 70% are monitored more closely by the academic support team.  Students are provided with a list of missing assignments, current grades and PIV (online grade book) codes.  Students remaining on Academic Watch for more than two weeks are referred for more directed, strategic and intensive interventions.

Strategic XTS:  The 30 minute eXtended Time and Support period allows students to access teachers for additional support as needed during the school day.  Students who are struggling in a particular content area or with chronic time management issues may be assigned to attend XTS 3-5 times per week with a particular teacher for more directed supervision and support.  Students may also be assigned to a Positive Peer Mentor during XTS as a less intensive intervention.

Homework Intervention/Detention:  Students repeatedly not completing homework assignments and are in danger of failing a class as a result may be assigned an after school detention to complete the assignments. 

Daily Check-in/check-out (CI/CO):  Students struggling with organization, planner usage and homework completion may be assigned to a daily check in/out.  CI/CO has three levels of support depending on the nature and severity of the struggles.  Level A is self- monitoring and has the highest level of independence for students.  Level B requires students to get teacher’s signatures each hour to verify the accuracy of the assignment.  Level C requires students to get teacher’s signatures, visually show each book and each assignment. 

Student Contract:  Student contracts are tailored to meet the needs of the individual student.  Contracts are used as a reminder system to students and as a means of communication between home and school.  Typically contracts are in the form of a daily check-list and are used to address a behavior concern that is interfering with the student’s learning.

Guided Advisory (GA):  GA is for students who are not completing school work and for whom multiple classroom and team interventions have proven ineffective.  Students are scheduled into GA in place of one of their elective classes for a minimum of three weeks.  Students must be caught up on all missing assignments and all core grades must be above 70% before they will be allowed to return to their elective class.  Students exiting GA are required to have an exit plan/contract which often involves a daily check-in and/or check-out. 

Study Stars:  Students struggling with organization, planner usage, managing homework, checking grades, … will work with a peer mentor (7th or 8th grade student) to help with these items.  The groups will meet 1x/week during XTS.  These students are referred by current 6th grade teachers.

Tiered Math Support

Students are identified for Tiered Math Support through a school-wide universal screening process that includes detailed diagnostic testing for students below benchmark on the screener.  Based on the results of the diagnostic testing and any previous math interventions, students are placed in one of several targeted math intervention groups.

Intensive Intervention:  Math Support Class Intensive math support class is for students who have multiple demonstrated gaps in math skills as diagnosed through Delta math testing.  The Math Support class meets one hour per day in place of an elective class.  Students work on pre-algebra standards from grades 3-6 as identified through diagnostic testing.  Each child has an individualized plan based on their specific needs.

In-class Math SupportWhen available, a para-pro may be assigned to assist the classroom math teacher with differentiated instruction, small group testing, and supported homework time.  Students are identified for in-class math support based on formative and summative assessment scores, universal screening data, standardized testing results, as well as teacher input.

Tiered Reading Support

Students are identified for Tiered Reading Support through a school-wide universal screening process that includes detailed diagnostic testing for students below benchmark on the screener.  Based on the results of the diagnostic testing and any previous reading interventions, students are placed in one of 5 targeted reading intervention groups.

Intensive Intervention:  Reading Support ClassThe Reading Support Class meets one hour per day in place of an elective class.  Students work on comprehension, fluency, decoding, vocabulary and strategies for approaching unfamiliar content.  Each child has an individualized plan based on their specific needs.

Strategic Interventions:  Peer Assisted Reading (PAR4) PAR4 meets 2x per week during XTS.  Students who are in PAR4 work on oral reading fluency, comprehension, summarization and vocabulary strategies.  All students who are in PAR4 read with a peer mentor in order to be able to have one on one discussions about what is being read.   The group follows a very strict structure that is facilitated by a teacher or a para-pro.

Reading Watch: Students slightly below benchmark, or who have not reached the spring benchmark for their grade level are validated with an additional screener passage and then monitored for adequate growth.

Tiered Writing Support

Students are identified for Tiered Writing Support through a school-wide baseline writing screener that focuses on summary writing.  From that screener, teachers identify students who are missing important skills necessary for writing a cohesive summary.  Those skills include writing effective introductions, providing details, identifying the main idea and important details, and concluding.

Strategic Intervention:  Writing Boot Camp The Writing Boot Camp intervention runs anywhere from 1 week to 1 month to address the specific area of concern per student.  Each Boot Camp focuses on a summary skill where students work on the skill through guided and independent practice.  Skills include:  writing effective introductions, providing details, identifying main ideas and details, concluding, and using graphic organizers for pre-writing.  Writing Boot Camp is a small group intervention of 10 or fewer students who work with a certified teacher and para-pro.

Watch: Students who participate in a Writing Boot Camp are on watch for the remainder of the school year.  These students are progress monitored quarterly to ensure they are applying the strategies to meet the expectations of the targeted area.

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

Collaboration time: In order to have collaborative work time during working hours, alternative and creative solutions were explored. As a result, content teams are provided regularly scheduled time for the purpose of collaborating with content team members. This time occurs twice monthly for one hour after school in place of staff meetings. Additionally, once per quarter (or more often if requested by the team leader), teams are given up to a full day of release time during the school day. The collaborative meetings are facilitated by a department building chair. This time is used for establishing SMART goals, monitoring goal attainment, as well as for analyzing results from common assessments. In the spring, each team is responsible for creating a year-end Pulse Point report detailing departmental work.  During the 2014-15 school year, the schedule was made so that all core content area departments had the same planning period as another means of doing this important work.  For example, all math teachers had a 2nd period plan so they could discuss assessment data and instructional strategies. 

Action research: When staff members hit roadblocks with student learning and don’t have and can’t find the answers, the staff is willing to try new and unfamiliar strategies doing “whatever it takes” to meet the needs of the students. As staff members experiment with new ways of meeting the needs of all learners, effective practices are shared with collaborative team members. Staff members regularly consult educational books/journals, online resources, and professional development materials in order to bring innovative practices to the classroom.  Even now after 9 years of taking the PLC journey we continue to learn more and do better by implement new strategies to help students.

Pyramid Response to Interventions steering committee: In the fall of 2008, a steering committee comprised of teachers representing each grade level and subject area, building administrators, school counselor, and school psychologist was developed to analyze the feasibility of implementing a pyramid response to intervention. The members of this committee had extensive training in PLC foundations and were developed as school leaders in this process. Training consisted of some or all of the following: Hope Institute conferences, Solution Tree summits and institutes, school site visits, county-wide professional development programs, book studies, and extensive building- and district-level dialogue. This group helped facilitate the implementation of our XTS period, our working Pyramid Response to Interventions, and further building the capacity of the entire staff. This group continues to be instrumental in navigating the challenges inherent in developing a professional learning community.  As new staff come to West, we continue to send staff to Solution Tree institute, summits and 2 years ago we brought a Hybrid Institute to Portage Public Schools.

PLC Training: When the journey began more than 9 years ago, every staff member has attended at least two workshops, institutes or conferences related to PLC foundations.  We are continuing that trend in 14-15 by having new staff attend workshops or do book studies.

Exceptional building administrative leadership: The process of building a professional learning community which focuses on student learning did not happen by accident. Our school is fortunate to have a building principal who is a life-long learner and is never satisfied with the status quo. He continues to see the potential in our staff as a whole to raise the bar in an already high performing school. The progress we have made so far could not have been accomplished without mutual, respectful give-and-take between both of our administrators and the teaching staff.

Participated in the Solution Tree Progress Report: In the spring of 2010, we contracted with Solution Tree to take part in the Solution Tree PLC at Work Progress Report. The purpose of this site visit was to provide our staff with feedback on our progress toward building a professional learning community and to receive recommendations for next steps. The staff utilized the recommendations in the report to:

  • further develop SMART goals related to improving student learning
  • begin to develop common formative assessments in core content areas
  • monitor student learning and place students in appropriate interventions
  • maintain collaborative team time despite contractual constraints
  • provide students with extra time and support on a daily basis (XTS)
  • further develop our Pyramid Response to Interventions

Additional Achievement Data

Achievement Data

Historically, Portage West Middle School has been a high performing school in a high performing school district. The initial challenge of justifying the implementation of PLC practices in an already high performing school were quickly overcome with the realization that a declining enrollment, decreases in state funding, increases in state and federal accountability, and changes in our District’s demographics would make it increasingly more difficult to maintain high performance levels. Additionally, a realization that some sub-groups of students were not performing at high levels, and in fact were performing below state averages, helped provide the push that was needed to reinvent how we approached educating the children who walked through our doors. WMS has re-cultured the school to align with PLC practices.  Our School Data Profile is attached in the resources section.

As was noticed our achievement in mathematics declined last year in both the 7th grade (67 to 54) and in 8th grade (68-52). In addition as we look further into the subgroup data of the 23 African-American students only 4 were proficient in the mathematics area.  We have noticed this data and are taking steps to ensure all students are learning at high levels.  It is noteworthy to point out that three years ago we did start to implement the Common Core Curriculum in mathematics while the State of Michigan test remained the MEAP and assessed the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, not the Common Core Standards.  This spring Michigan students will take the new M-step assessment that will assess the Common Core.  So in addition to the implementation dip we had an assessment that did not match our current curriculum.  

Even with this information, we realized that our student performance levels in mathematics has declined and so we are doing the following during the 14-15 school year:

  • The math department has identified new "Power Standards" (i.e. the food, water and shelter for math that without, the students would not survive).  Each of these standards at the 3 grade levels is assessed 6 times a year and broken down by student by benchmark.  In order to keep these standards in front of students at all times, each teacher does 1-2 warm-up problems connected to these daily.  Any students not proficient in these Power Standards are given extra time and support during XTS.  The data for each grade is posted in the hallways so the students can see the overall class attainment of the standards.  For example, in 7th grade six standards were identified as critical.  On Sept. 5, 2014 each of these was assessed with the following proficiency being met:  48%, 22%, 74%, 48%, 29%, 59%.  At the half-way point of the year the 3rd assessment on these same six standards was given and the following proficiency was noted:  92%, 75%, 75%, 83%, 79%, 91%.  As you can see, there as has been a drastic improvement.
  • Second, we have changed the set up with our Intensive Math support class by making the support more individualized for each student.  For example, for the 10 students in the 6th grade math class, they have 3 staff in the class assisting and each student has an individual set of goals or a set of goals in common with 1-2 other students if the students are struggling with the same concepts.  
  • We have established Para-Professional support in each of the math classes with at least 5 at-risk students.
  • New SMART goals were established by the math department for the 14-15 school year based upon the MEAP results and Common Assessment results.
  • For the 15-16 school year, we are going to change the scheduling process such that each math teacher will have another math teacher teaching the same course during the same time period.  For example, if I teach Math 8 during 3rd period; there will be another teacher teaching Math 8 during the 3rd period.  The intention of this is to have both teachers re-group after formative assessments.  So that one teacher would take all students that were not yet proficient with the concept and do some re-teaching and small group instruction while the other teacher would do an extension activity/lesson with those that are proficient.  We will continue this through the 15-16 school year and assess the effectiveness off this scheduling idea after the 3rd quarter of the year.  All math teachers will still have the ability to use the XTS period to give additional time and support to students; but given our math scores we thought we needed this additional idea built into the daily schedule.
  • Finally when looking at our sub-group data, of the 19 African American students not proficient in mathematics here are the supports for each (please note that these are above and beyond supports from the math teacher):

Student #1 - in class math support (para)

Student #2 - in class math support and assigned to intensive math support class

Student #3 -in class math support and assigned to intensive math support class

Student #4 - in class math support and assigned to PAR 4 reading support

Student #5 - in class math support

Student #6 - in class math support, assigned to intensive math support class, also gets special education supports as she is visually impaired (West Middle is the Kalamazoo Country middle school for students with significant Visual or Hearing Impairments)

Student # 7  - in class math support and assigned to intensive math support class

Student #8 - in class math support, assigned to intensive math support class, also given Special Education support, PAR 4 reading support

Student #9 - Special Education support class, behavioral support inside and outside of school (won't do student)

Student #10 - In class support and strategic math support during XTS

Student #11 - Guided Advisory class (won't do student), PAR 4 reading support, strategic math support during XTS

Student #12 - in class math support, PAR 4 reading support

Student #13 - Guided Advisory class (won't do student).  Currently in the "honors" math section

Student #14 - Special education support, multiple behavioral supports

Student #15 - assigned to intensive math support class, also special education support

Student #16 - Guided Advisory class (won't do student)

Student #17 - In class support and 504 accommodations/modifications.  Parents refused intensive math support class

Student #18 - in class math support and assigned to intensive math support class

Student #19 - in class math support and assigned to Guided Advisory class (won't do student)

  • WMS Academics:

    • Selected by Solution Tree as a school that exhibits Evidence of Effectiveness (see allthingsplc.info)
    • Selected by the State of Michigan as a Rewards School in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012
    • In the 85th percentile in the 2013 State of Michigan Top to Bottom Ranking, the highest for any middle school in the greater Kalamazoo area
    • Recognized as one of 35 Schools to Beat the Odds
    • Again in 2014 in the State of Michigan Top to Bottom Ranking, West was the highest ranking middle school in the greater Kalamazoo area
    • West Middle School Academic Award Programs in May of 2013.  Three academic awards are given at each grade level (3.0-3.49 GPA, 3.5-3.99 GPA & 4.0 GPA)
      • 82% of 6th grade students earned an academic award 
      • 88% of 7th grade students earned an academic award 
      • 80% of 8th grade students earned an academic award
    • During their 9th grade year at Portage Central and Portage Northern High Schools, WMS students had tremendous success.  Of all of the grades earned in the first semester;
      • 82% of the grades given were A's and B's
      • 94% of the grades given were A's, B's and C's.
      • Over 50% of 9th graders coming from WMS are taking at least 1 Honors course in the high school.
    • In 2013-14 we have a number of students challenging themselves in "Plus Classes" (honors classes)
      • In 6th grade 42% are taking ELA+ and 48% are taking Math+
      • In 7th grade 49% are taking ELA+ and 36% are taking Math+
      • In 8th grade 48% are taking ELA+, 28% are taking Math+ (9th grade Algebra 1) and 37% are taking Science+ (a junior level high school course)

    WMS Extra-Curricular Participation:

    • As of March 2015, approximately 64% of WMS students participated in at least 1 athletic sport, school club, or fine art activity outside of the classroom.   Here is a list of our clubs/activities:





    Boy’s Basketball

    Girl’s Basketball






    Jazz Band



    Mine Craft Club

    Math Counts


    Comic Book

    Computer Science

    Moose Club





    Man Cave Reading

    Science Olympiad

    Student Leaders

    Ski Club

    Talent Show


    • In 2012-13, WMS students participated in a variety of athletic and fine arts activities outside of the classroom:
      • 69 students participated in the Musical, "Seussical Jr."
      • 55 students participated in Jazz Band
      • 54 students participated in Swimming Club
      • 56 students participated in Cross-Country
      • 35 students participated in Tennis Club
      • 30 students participated in Golf Club
      • 41 students participated in Football
      • 48 students participated in Volleyball
      • 43 students participated in Boy's Basketball
      • 37 students participated in Girl's Basketball
      • 134 students participated in Track
      • 23 students participated in Wrestling

    WMS Bands:

    • In 2012-13, 45 total events participated in at the MSBOA solo & ensemble festival
      • 85% earned a 1st division rating
    • 16 band students were accepted to the District XI Honors Band at Vicksburg
      • 5 band students participated in the Western Michigan University middle school Honors Band
      • 1 band student was selected to the All-State Honors Band
    • 44 students in Jazz Band traveled to and performed in Chicago
    • In the March 2014 District Festival both the 7th & 8th grade Bands received straight I's for their rating!
    • At the 2013-14 District Solo and Ensemble festival, the WMS Bands had 50 solo & ensemble groups participate.  Of the fifty, 44 acts received a Division I rating and the other 6 received a Division II rating.
    • In 2014-15, both the 7th and 8th grade Bands received straight I's for their rating at the March 2015 district festival.

    WMS Choirs:

    • In the March 2014 District Festival all choirs qualified for States by receiving a I rating.  
    • In the March 2015 District Festival the 7th grade Choir received a I rating including a perfect score on site reading.  This qualifies the choir for State Festival.

    WMS Orchestra:

    • In the March 2014 District Festival both the 7th & 8th grade Orchestras received a I rating.
    • In the March 2015 District Festival, again both the 7th and 8th grade Orchestras received a I rating.

    Science Olympiad:

    • In the March 2014 Regional Competition at WMU, our Science Olympiad team qualified for States by receiving a 3rd place finish!

    Math Counts Team:

    • The WMS 2013-14 Math Counts team finished in 2nd place in the region and 3 team members qualified and participated in the State Competition.
    • The 2014-15 WMS Math Counts team finished 2nd in the region and qualified for the State Competition.