Waukee Community Schools

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

Waukee’s systemic commitment to building professional learning communities is evident across the district. Over 250 teachers and administrators have attended the PLC Institute over the last five years to enhance the collaborative culture at all levels of the organization. This collaborative culture, focused intently on student learning, is the foundation for all of our school improvement efforts. In addition to the PLC institute, Waukee educators have attended the Assessment Institute to increase understanding of assessment within collaborative teams.

Waukee administrators have been participating in Instructional Rounds as defined by City, Elmore, Fiarman and Teitel (2011) since 2009. Administrators engage in professional dialogue and collaboration to develop a shared understanding of high quality instruction. This professional learning supports the work of administrators as they engage in collaborative teams throughout their buildings. Instructional coaches, teacher leaders and building leadership teams work with administrators to strengthen the support systems of instructional improvement and build capacity across the district.

In addition to administrators, instructional coaches support teachers with grade-level, content and vertical collaborative teams to enhance instructional practice through the PLC process. This process has a significant impact on the following:

  1. Quality core instruction and responsive teaching to meet the needs of all students
  2. Culture of learning and ongoing commitment to collaborative teams
  3. Improved clarity of essential learning goals for students and the criteria for proficiency
  4. Increased understanding of consistent, reliable and student-focused assessment practices
  5. Improved intervention support for students that is timely, directive and systematic

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Waukee Community School District teachers and administrators work in collaborative teams to monitor student learning on a timely basis. Collaborative teams meet weekly to clarify the essential skills and knowledge that all students must know, understand and be able to do. Developing a shared understanding of proficiency and common formative assessments, teachers align instruction and assessment with the curriculum and proficiency goals in which all students will secure. Rubrics clearly define the learning standards and teachers work in their teams to analyze the results of common formative assessments to determine appropriate actions. This PLC work is guided by Waukee’s standards-based assessment practices and framework for meeting the needs of all students (see system of intervention narrative below for further details). The process provides Waukee teachers with focused data that allows the PLC opportunities for optimizing instructional effectiveness in a timely manner.

Teachers develop SMART goals and utilize proficiency scales for determining and interpreting data systematically. Monitoring student learning in Waukee occurs throughout units of study and provides a foundation for teachers and PLC teams to monitor student progress and ensure all students reach or surpass proficiency.

The process for monitoring student learning in Waukee is similar among K-12 teams. PLC teams:

  1. Determine the skills and concepts most essential to student success in a given subject/content area
  2. Analyze and clarify these skills and concepts to establish an agreed upon understanding of the learning outcomes
  3. Create a series of common formative assessments aligned to these outcomes and establish/align proficiency targets
  4. Analyze formative assessment data based on proficiency targets to collectively make informed decisions about students, instruction and resources
  5. Follow through with systems of intervention

Waukee teachers and administrators utilize data to identify students who are experiencing difficulty and students who are already proficient to optimize our use of specialized teachers (reading resource, English as a Second Language, Gifted Education, etc.). District alignment with the PLC process and data collection throughout the year allows for systemic growth and support across all grades. The clarity and consistency with this process among teachers in our district has allowed for continued student growth across all socioeconomic levels and continues to provide job-embedded learning for our teachers and administrators.

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

Waukee Community School District believes all students can achieve at high levels. We strive to differentiate effectively in order to meet the diverse needs of our students. The framework for meeting the needs of all students is illustrated below and begins with quality core instruction, including opportunities for small group and varied independent practice. Collaborative teams work together using a systematic approach to review essential learnings, identify specific areas of improvement or enrichment, and engage in instructional decision-making. Interventions are provided in addition to core instruction, and PLC teams meet regularly to review data, analyze the effectiveness of the intervention, and make adjustments to instruction.

Classroom teachers at all levels provide core instruction, including opportunities for differentiated small group and varied independent practice based on student needs. Groups are adjusted flexibly based on classroom formative assessments. Teachers collaborate to improve core instruction and support students requiring enrichment or intervention.

At the targeted intervention level, instructional strategies are analyzed and formative assessments are reviewed by a collaborative team. The collaborative team may consist of classroom teachers, special education teachers, instructional coaches, interventionists, counselors, extended learning teachers and administrators. The team reviews ongoing progress monitoring data and next steps are decided for core instruction, revisions to the targeted plan, or a shift to a more intensive plan. At the intensive level of intervention, the team will consider additional diagnostic data and instructional strategies. Collaborative teams meet weekly to ensure a timely process relevant to core instruction and student needs.

Each building in the district provides various levels of support through the collaborative process. Some students receive reading support for developing strategies and skills in the area of literacy. This support is offered daily in addition to core instruction. Elementary reading teachers and classroom teachers work closely to set goals and monitor student progress. Students qualifying for extended learning also receive opportunities for enrichment through close collaboration with the extended learning teacher and the classroom teacher. Students learning the English language are also supported through collaborative teams. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers work closely to support core instruction through language acquisition strategies. Instructional coaches offer further support for core instruction and in diagnosing academic needs. Special education teachers work with identified students in collaboration with general education teachers. Individual learning goals are developed through this collaborative process and aligned with specific student needs. Counselors support students needing additional social, emotional, and behavioral support beyond core instruction provided by Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Each building has a PBIS team to monitor building and student data. In addition, each secondary building has a math interventionist, a literacy interventionist, and behavior interventionist to further support students with academic and/or social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

The PLC process continues to be the guiding force for meeting the needs of all learners. PLCs are embedded in the culture of Waukee and serve as a vehicle for continuous improvement.

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

The Waukee School District is committed to professional development. Ongoing, reflective learning is a focused effort and goal in all schools. Over 45% of the teaching staff have a master’s degree or higher. Teachers are supported at the district level in obtaining higher degrees and have many opportunities to enhance their practice collaboratively within their teams. Professional development is tied to the professional school culture and ensures improved learning for all students. This collective effort is carried out by clarifying goals for collaborative teams and selecting leaders within the schools that have a strong influence with colleagues. Waukee’s teacher leaders are champions of the PLC process and have a shared understanding of how to support effective teams. Improving our work in collaborative teams is a constant component of our ongoing learning goals as a district.

Waukee has sent over 250 teachers and administrators to the PLC Institute over the last five years. District office professionals support opportunities and conditions for adult learning and work with teachers and administrators to ensure that all students learn at high levels. Specifically, Waukee schools have focused on supporting teachers in implementing the most promising pedagogy in their classrooms. Through collaborative teams, Waukee teachers are dedicated to raising expectations and awareness of learning intentions, refining pedagological skills, designing deliberate interventions and creating a results oriented environment. These efforts are supported by the fundamental beliefs of the PLC process, with teachers and students as the driving force.

Additional Achievement Data

Percentage of students proficient: Waukee District Scores/State of Iowa Scores
Comparison Data: Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and Iowa Assessments

Grade: 3 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 85/77 85/79 90/78
Year 08-09 87/80 87/80 88/80
Year 09-10 87/78 88/79 87/80
Year 10-11 85/78 86/77 90/82
*Year 11-12 91/78 88/76 90/79

Grade: 4 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 87/79 87/76 98/84
Year 08-09 90/79 90/80 91/81
Year 09-10 89/80 89/78 93/84
Year 10-11 90/81 92/82 92/82
*Year 11-12 86/77 84/73 91/81

Grade: 5 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 93/76 89/68 92/82
Year 08-09 90/74 91/69 90/82
Year 09-10 90/76 88/69 91/83
Year 10-11 91/75 91/80 91/82
*Year 11-12 90/77 86/73 86/76

Grade: 6 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 91/76 87/70 94/80
Year 08-09 89/78 84/72 87/75
Year 09-10 88/76 84/72 92/81
Year 10-11 87/74 81/69 85/76
*Year 11-12 85/70 79/63 85/74

Grade: 7 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 87/74 88/70 95/80
Year 08-09 91/76 89/73 93/82
Year 09-10 90/75 87/73 91/81
Year 10-11 91/79 86/74 93/83
*Year 11-12 90/78 83/66 85/70

Grade: 8 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 84/77 85/76 89/79
Year 08-09 83/77 85/76 92/83
Year 09-10 83/77 84/78 93/81
Year 10-11 89/76 88/74 94/84
*Year 11-12 88/73 81/65 89/75

Grade: 11 Math Reading Science
Year 07-08 86/77 87/76 90/80
Year 08-09 80/77 86/76 86/80
Year 09-10 87/77 88/78 90/80
Year 10-11 82/76 87/77 90/81
*Year 11-12 91/81 93/83 92/85

*State test and norms changed from Iowa Tests of Basic Skills to Iowa Assessments in 2011-2012.

Our students continue to achieve at high levels on the ITBS/Iowa Assessments despite our continued growth in enrollment. The table below illustrates a continual increase in students scoring at advanced proficiency and a gradual decrease in students scoring less than proficient.

Waukee administers the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) exam created by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Students in grades 3 through 9 take the test in fall and spring. Unlike standardized achievement tests that compare students to a national norm, MAP tests are scored on an equal interval scale. A student’s RIT score is determined in the fall. Using an anticipated spring score to establish growth targets, student progress can be tracked from fall to spring and year to year. The RIT Scale is a curriculum scale that uses individual item difficulty values to estimate student achievement. An advantage of the RIT scale is that it can relate the numbers on the scale directly to the difficulty of items on the tests.

The NWEA normative data is referenced below to show the mean RIT scores of Waukee for fall and spring compared to the norm data. Every grade level in Waukee exceeded the established national norms.

The Waukee Community School District is one of the fastest growing school districts in the state of Iowa. The implementation of Professional Learning Communities throughout the district ensures a guaranteed and viable curriculum is delivered in all classrooms. New teachers are inducted into the PLC process through our mentoring process and ongoing professional development. Teachers continue to improve their practice as they utilize formative assessment data to differentiate instruction for the increasingly diverse needs of our learners. The table below illustrates our commitment to meeting the needs of all students in math while the number of students we serve continues to increase dramatically.

The ACT is widely used as a college entrance exam. The exam is a curriculum-based measure of college readiness that includes tests of academic achievement in the areas of English, math, reading and science. Below you will find the average composite scores as well as college readiness scores for Waukee students compared to national and state averages.

  Waukee High School National State
2008 23.8 21.1 22.4
2009 23.6 21.1 22.4
2010 23.3 21.0 22.2
2011 23.5 21.1 22.3
2012 23.8 21.1 22.1

Waukee High School offers a wide selection of courses including unique special interest, Advanced Placement (AP) and concurrent enrollment classes. Nearly 73% of Waukee High School students who took AP exams in 2011-2012 scored a 3 or higher on the exam. WHS has seen a 75% increase in the number of AP offerings for students since the 2009-2010 academic year. The increasing number of concurrent enrollment students and earned credits are shown below.

Year Students Enrolled Total Credits Earned
2005-06 144 426
2006-07 372 1,225
2007-08 487 1,635
2008-09 416 1,453
2009-10 388 1,257
2010-11 827 2,930
2011-12 1,053 4,070

Waukee student enrollment has increased from 2,768 in 2001 to 7,611 in 2012. During this time of exponential growth, Waukee continues to surpass the state and national academic averages while increasing the number of students performing at advanced levels.

  • Waukee Community Schools placed 9th in Iowa’s Top 100 Workplaces (Fall 2012 Des Moines Register)
  • Waukee Community School District (WCSD) is one of 539 school districts across 44 of the 50 states in the U.S. and Canada being honored by The College Board with placement on the 3rd Annual AP® District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement® course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.
  • Since 2010 WCSD has increased the number of students participating in AP from 63 to 165 while maintaining the high percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher at 80 percent. Currently Waukee High School offers 11 AP courses. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year 13 AP courses will be offered to students.
  • Waukee has a 98.7% graduation rate (State of Iowa has an 87.2% graduation rate)
  • 11 National Merit Finalists since 2010
  • 11 National Merit Commended Scholars since 2010
  • 2 National AP Scholars
  • 19 Governor’s Scholar Recognition Program Awards
  • 9 students earning perfect ACT scores since 2011
  • 2011 State of Iowa Teacher of the Year
  • 2010 State of Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year
  • 2004 State of Iowa Middle School Principal of the Year