Country Meadows School
- Number of Students: 375
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 20%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 29%
- Percent of Special Education: 10%
- White: 45%
- Black: 4.5%
- Hispanic: 21.8%
- Asian: 24.5%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.5%
- Multiracial: 3.7%
- Other: 0%
The PLC journey began over a decade ago in all of the District 96 schools. District leadership began researching and learning about the components of effective practices and components of systems operating as a professional learning community. The district worked on developing a common mission, vision, values and goals to guide our work. We focused on the four critical question led us to understand how important a guaranteed and viable curriculum was needed.
District content teams worked to develop the common set of targets for each subject area in every grade. From these targets we understood the need to write appropriate assessments (formative and summative) to measure the attainment of the identified targets. We used the data to identify students who needed extra support and those that needed opportunities for extension and/or acceleration.
Over the years, we have continued to revise the expected targets as we have learned more, often adding rigor and higher expectations for our students. This revision has included the addition of leveled targets and the implementation of a standards based reporting system to provide specific, timely and accurate feedback to students and parents. We also modified our calendar to include early releases on a regular basis for time for district content area teams and/or grade levels to meet together for consistency between and collaboration among all staff members. For the 2017-2018 school year, we have added 1/2 days once per trimester so that teachers and coaches can engage in a collaborative scoring process, ensuring that we have internal consistency across the school and district in terms of expectations for mastery.
Country Meadows Elementary School created collaborative teams at each grade level or content team. The principal and school teams developed a master schedule that provides common planning time for these teams to meet. These teams developed norms for working together productively. An agenda is developed for each team meeting time and is shared with all team members. Each week, one team meeting (1hr in length) focuses on math and one focuses on literacy to provide the most leverage for teams. Additionally, for the 2017-2018 school year, a third meeting was added to discuss team logistics, student intervention data when necessary and additional science and social studies content. The principal regularly attends the grade level teams to provide support and encouragement. These teams review the upcoming targets, pacing guides and scoring rubrics. They develop common formative assessments to assess the unique needs of their students. These teams meet regularly to review data (pre-test, common formative assessments and end of unit assessments) to design effective differentiated instruction. More recently, the district has provided staff members serving in a coaching role to provide support to teachers in the area of literacy, math, technology, and informational literacy. These coaches provide job-embedded professional development to individual teachers and teams. Additionally, a language coach both co-teaches and plans with teachers to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In Spring 2016, teaching teams began learning walks at Country Meadows School led by our Technology Coach, which hone in on a focus question that the grade level teachers create during the pre-learning walk meeting. The learning walk focuses on students' learning not the teaching. Examples of focus questions are: "What is the level of student engagement? How are students utilizing technology within our one-to-one iPad program? At what level are students able to conduct conversations with each other? Approximately five classrooms are visited during a learning walk, which last about seven minutes each. After visiting classrooms, the learning walk team debriefs with a focus on student learning within the framework of the focus question. The learning walk team members apply new knowledge from their classroom visits to enhance their own classroom and instructional practices.
To begin to support new teachers in our system, the district provides five days of new teacher training prior to the start of school each August in addition to ongoing district, building, and one to one mentor support. During the initial days, new staff are provided an overview of the District 96 Professional Learning Communities work. The district has a two year mentor program in order to continue to develop the capacity of the new staff.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
The second critical question for our work as a PLC says "How will you know if students have learned what you expect them to?" In District 96, we develop appropriate target-aligned assessments. These include formative and summative assessments. 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 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, mix-up 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. With instruction, students see their growth. We have also developed above-level targets for students to work on after showing proficiency or mastery of the grade level expected targets. Students work hard to move towards these extension opportunities.
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 in addition to Nationally Normed Universal Screeners. For example, we use Northwest Evaluation Assessment Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for all students in grades K-5 three times a year for math and literacy. This data is used for consideration for additional time and support. All students are also assessed using AIMSWEB CBMs to triangulate data. During the 2017-2018 school year, through a partnership with ECRA, the specialists were able to access a PARCC predictor score to use as an additional data point to determine the need for additional intervention for students predicted not to meet on the PARCC assessment.
Country Meadows has a Problem Solving Team made up of specialists and the classroom teacher whose purpose is to develop a plan for support for students needing additional instructional time and strategies. This Problem Solving Team reviews progress monitoring data on a regular basis to refine support to meet student needs.
In addtion to the interventions provided through RtI as outlined above, classroom teachers provide Tier 1 interventions. Needs are determined by local assessment including Common Formative Assessments and District Benchmark Assessments offered at the end of instructional units. Students are targeted individually or in small groups to ensure students achieve mastery of grade level targets. In addtion, intervention time is also used to extend the thinking of students that have already mastered grade level targets.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
In addition to the work of the school principal, we have identified grade level and specialist Team Leaders. These leaders provide an additional layer of support to all teachers in working towards the district and school goals. All team leaders go through extensive professional development around facilitation skills. This Leadership Team meets weekly with the principal, where they work collaboratively around the goals, identifying needed supports and developing targeted plans to reach goals. These weekly meetings also serve as a place to celebrate successes and problem solve across grade levels.
Country Meadows Elementary School also has a team of instructional coaches comprised of a Math Coach, Literacy Coach, Informational Literacy Coach and Technology Coach, as a means to support learning further. Coaches meet weekly with grade level teams and as needed with individual teachers. This includes review of student data, best practices for supporting students' mastery of learning targets, additional techniques for assessment of student learning to refine instruction, and collaborative planning for instruction including intervention and extension. Our coaching model provides teams and teachers with opportunities for modeling, co-teaching, observation, and collaboration around best practices. Coaches participate in extensive training and development, and also meet weekly with the principal.
Our Problem Solving Team includes the Principal, School Psychologist, Reading and Math Specialists, Social Worker, Special Education Teachers, ELL/Bilingual Specialists, Occupational Therapist, Speech & Language Pathologists, and General Education Teachers. This team meets weekly to regularly review student data for students qualifying for Tier 2 and 3 interventions, as well as for those students already eligible for special education. Review of this data guides further decisions and planning for students to close instructional gaps. The Problem Solving Team also provides Tier 1 support to teachers at grade level team meetings. Individuals from the Problem Solving Team work with teachers to recommend strategies to support student learning needs and identify as well as support the implementation of specific data collection tools to monitor progress.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
IAHPERD Physical Fitness Blue Ribbon
ISBE Academic Excellence Award