Woodlawn Middle School

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

Woodlawn is a true Professional Learning Community. Our journey began over  fifteen years ago, and we have continued to thrive and grow as a PLC through a myriad of changes in curriculum, teachers and administration.  Initially, our primary data sources used to drive instruction and increase student achievement were the state achievement and other standardized tests of student performance. Our early years were spent evaluating student achievement data, focusing on best practices needed to improve student performance, and identifying the need for formative data sources. As a PLC, we realized that in order to increase student learning, we needed to develop common formative and benchmark assessments. We also decided that we would all own all student data and would hold the same rigorous expectations for every child in our school system.  Since that time, student achievement has improved steadily since 2007. In addition to incredibly high standardized test scores, the interdependence of content and grade level team members has grown exponentially resulting in the implementation of more effective differentiated instructional practices, target-aligned formative assessments, skill-based interventions and extensions of learning standards, and consistent, measurable student growth.

During our Professional Learning Community developmental years, our practice quickly moved into action.  We shared our knowledge amongst professionals, allowed our PLC principles to drive our daily functionin, and focused our practices and decisions on what really matters most: students learning. During this developmental time, our staff shifted to a growth mindset; we went from being a staff who would worry that “this cannot work because…” to a staff who consistently remains solution focused and uses “let’s figure this out together” philosophy. As a district, we rolled our standards-based reporting and Common Core Learning Standards initiatives out simultaneously. As challenging as these two initiatives were to tackle together, we approached the work with a positive attitude by reminding one another that we are a PLC.  We knew our deep level of collaboration and focus on the three big ideas of professional learning communities would enable us to put these practices into place for the good of every child in our system.  

As a district, we have developed a mission, vision, values and goals to guide our work. Our focus on the four critical questions has ensured that we keep the focus of our work on a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Our district content teams worked to develop the common set of targets for each subject area in every grade  Each year these scaled targets and pacing are revisited with students in mind. Knowing the purpose of our targets, we understood the need to write appropriate assessments (formative and summative) to measure the attainment of the identified targets.  We then worked to ensure that teams of teachers had time to meet daily to examine student work and collaboratively score using team created rubrics that were target aligned.  Once we had this data, we put protocols into place to ensure that teachers used the data to plan instructional next steps with individual student needs in mind.  Additionally, identifying students who need extra support and those that need opportunities for extension and/or acceleration remains a pivotal piece to ensure that all of our students progress to the grade level expectation and beyond.  Because we are a PLC, we recognize and appreciate that our work is never done.  We continue to revise our curriculum and data discussion protocols as we have learned more, often resulting in increased rigor and expectations for our students.

Our PLC journey has allowed Woodlawn to maintain highly collaborative teams.  These teams review the upcoming targets, pacing guides and scoring rubrics. We develop common formative assessments to assess the unique needs of their students. Teams also meet regularly to review data (pre-test, common formative assessments and end of unit assessments) to design effective differentiated instruction. Recently, the district has provided staff members serving in a coaching role to provide support to teachers in the area of literacy, math, technology, science, extended services and informational literacy. The coaches partner with administration to provide just-in-time job embedded professional development and differentiate adult learning in the same way we do for our students. We continue to focus on best practice and embrace being a Professional Learning Community. Our journey has had challenges, however, just like our student test scores, we continue to reach new heights.  




1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The second critical question for our work as a PLC is “How will we know if students have learned what we expected them to learn?” In District 96, we work hard at developing appropriate target-aligned assessments. These include formative and summative assessments that are used for different purposes. Formative assessments are used to determine a student's current level of understanding and knowledge of the targets. These formative assessments may include the use of observational checklists, exit slips, target aligned quizzes, individual conferences with students, or other means to gather student data. Feedback is provided to students via small group and individual conferencing to help them know where they are in their learning progression and what they need to do in order to show growth. Teachers use data from these assessments to guide their instruction through differentiation, identify small groups of students in their classroom who may benefit from additional instruction or those that are ready for enrichment. Grade level teams develop common formative assessments based on the needs of their students. These needs may be different at other schools based on the unique characteristics of students. The results of these assessments are reviewed by the entire grade level to make decisions about pacing, thoughtful differentiated opportunities and to share instructional ideas to support all students. 

We use a standards-based reporting system to provide feedback to students and parents about progress. Students understand that prior to instruction it may be that a student is not yet showing proficiency. As instruction is provided on a daily basis, students and families observe and monitor student growth. The use of Standards Based Reporting is also used for individual student growth goal setting and monitoring.  We have also developed targets that are an extension of the mastery level of the grade level expected targets. Students work hard to move towards these extension opportunities.

Click here for our District 96 Curriculum and Instruction information.


2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Collaboration is key to creating systems of intervention. In District 96, our system of intervention begins with the robust assessment system based on our identified targets for each grade level course. We use Northwest Evaluation Assessment Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for all students in grades K-8 three times a year for math and literacy.  This data point is used for consideration of additional time and support in the areas of math and literacy. All students are also assessed using Curriculum Based Measurements (CBM's) in the area of literacy to gather additional data. Students with additional triggering data points are administered CBMs in the area of math. This process is used to hone in on and identify students with specific skill deficits, addressed within our system of intervention.  Each building in District 96 has a Problem Solving Team made up of many individuals whose purpose is to provide support to the individual teachers to determine steps to be taken in the classroom in order to identify overall needs. This Problem Solving Team reviews progress monitoring data on a regular basis to determine if additional time and support is needed by moving up the pyramid of interventions.

Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, Woodlawn Middle School began implementing a new schedule that is conducive to higher levels of student learning and performance.  In addition to adding time to core content classes, the new schedule includes a daily "flex" period for all students.  During flex, students have access to the following supports, based upon individual need:

  • Tier 2 & Tier 3 Literacy and Math intervention
  • Tier I support (extension and remediation) in all content areas, provided by the grade level content teachers
  • Related service and resource supports as indicated by specific student IEP's 
  • Target aligned projects - determined by individual student interest - are developed, designed and reported on during flex time
  • Students can receive Tier 1 support for social and emotional needs 

The flex period allows for all students to have access to timely support, addressing specific individual needs. Students that receive supports through special education no longer miss core content instruction to receive services.  

Teachers prioritize student needs on a daily basis to determine the level of support needed, the content area to be addressed,  and the certified staff member that will be providing the support. Teachers collaboratively plan differentiated lessons to use during the flex period based on an analysis of student data.   Our system now ensures that our students with the greatest areas of need are being addressed by our most qualified professionals.

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

Differentiated professional development has been a focus and a strength in District 96.  Our team members have eighty minutes together  to plan, observe, discuss best practice, evaluate data and seek out resources to best meet the needs of our students. Woodlawn staff members use their daily plan time to meet with their interdisciplinary teams, content teams and coaches to best meet their professional needs.  Interdisciplinary teams are led by a team leader, which has one team leader per team.  Our leadership team is comprised of one staff member from each grade level team (6 total), and a representative from our Wellness, Electives, Problem Intervention Team and our Coaching team.  Each of these Leadership Team members go through extensive training throughout the school year, ensuring that the leaders understand the direction of the district and how to best engage the colleagues on their teams. These leaders provide addition support to teachers, guiding staff toward achievement of school and district goals.  

Another component of our success is directly related to our commitment to having instructional coaches.  Our coaching team is made up of coaches in our Math, Literacy, Language Development, Science and Innovation areas.  Coaches meet weekly with content teams to review student data, discuss best practice in students attaining mastery of targets, share instructional strategies, and identifystudents for intervention and extension.  Our coaches also model, co-teach, plan job alike professional development, and  collaboratively plan win our teachers to increase student achievement. Weekly meetings and monthly goal reporting with the principals have made our coaches an invaluable asset in building staff capacity and moving forward on our district goals.  

Our staff meetings are always designed around topics which address staff need.  We collect data from team leaders and staff members, work to align them to our school and district goals, then deliver meaningful staff development weekly. Because we are a PLC, we often use quantitative (student test scores) and qualitative data (staff surveys, conversations) to help determine the topics of our meetings. For example, due to the increase in our English Language Learner population, many of our recent staff meetings have focused on how to best meet the needs of this population of students using our current data to drive the focus of these meetings

Our Problem Solving Team (PIT) meets weekly, reviewing student data for Tier 2 & Tier 3 intervention, including anyone eligible for Special Education.  They also provide Tier 1 support to teachers, giving them strategies and support for students who are struggling in their classrooms.  Our PIT team is made up of our Principal, Assistant Principal, School Psychologist, Social Workers, Counselor, Special Education Teachers, Occupational Therapist, and Speech & Language Pathologists.  PIT team members regularly meet with the interdisciplinary teams to ensure that we act proactively when a student struggles.


Student Services - http://www.kcsd96.org/student-services/index.cfm

Technology - http://www.kcsd96.org/tech/



Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The state of Illinois requires schools to participate in the yearly state assessment for students in grades 3-8 for elementary districts.  Until the 2014-15 school year, the state assessment was the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.  This assessment included math and reading tests for all grades and additional science tests for students in grades 4 and 7.  Illinois became a PARCC state (Partnership fo the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) and implemented this test for the first time during the 2014-15 school year.  In order to prepare parents and teachers for the more rigorous expectations for the PARCC exam, Illinois changed the proficiency levels on the ISAT assessments.  You will notice a decline in scores across the entire state beginning in the 2012-13 school year.  It is not appropriate to compare data before and after this change.  During the 2014-15 school year, the PARCC was administered to students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade two times during the year.  Following that year, the PARCC was administered to students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade once during the year.  In the 2018-2019 school year, Illinois administered the Illinois Assessment of Readiness for reading, writing, and math.

DuFour Award Winner, 2018

United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School, 2009, 2016

Woodlawn Middle School was featured in the Journal of Staff Development in their winter, 2006 volume. The article, “A Steadily Flowing Stream of Information Gives Teacher Much-Needed Data”, describes the professional process of effectively writing and using common assessments both on a formative and summative level.

State Champions Science Olympiad Division B-A, 2016