Country Meadows School (2023)

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

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 questions that 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. We have added 1/2 day 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, assistant 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. The principal and assistant principal regularly attend 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 developed an instructional coaching program to provide job-embedded learning focused on best implementing instructional practices, supporting language development, and building capacity in specific content areas.

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 and 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 reading. This data is used for consideration for additional time and support. Additional assessments are used to triangulate data using FASTBridge, especially for students scoring below the 25th percentile on NWEA MAP.

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.  

Country Meadows adheres to an MTSS model with Tier 1 making up 80% of the population, Tier 2 making up 15% of the population, and Tier 3 making up 5% of the population. Tier 1 is an intervention or acceleration that takes place inside the classroom. Teachers provide Tier 1 intervention or acceleration by analyzing data from formative assessments, including common assessments, in order to ascertain areas where student learning can be improved. Students in Tiers 2 and 3 are tracked via our watch list or our acceleration list. Intervention students are progress monitored weekly to track the progress of interventions. Students can receive intervention in math, literacy, or both. 

At Country Meadows, every grade has 40 minutes of common intervention time daily. Students can be pulled for Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 intervention during this time. In addition, intervention time is also used to extend the thinking of all 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 and assistant 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 and assistant 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. 

Team meeting time is built into our master schedule. At the grade levels, the teams meet for 2-3 hours per week to discuss math, literacy, social studies, and science instruction. The teams meet during times that students attend specials. Students in grades K-5 have a 1-hour block that is comprised of PE, Art, Music, Learning Center, and Exploration Lab. In addition to our grade levels meeting our special teachers meet 1-2 times per week to engage in a "critical friends" process. Our coaches also have a weekly meeting where they meet and discuss coaching. 

Country Meadows Elementary School has one instructional coach at each grade level. Coaches meet weekly with grade-level teams and as needed with individual teachers. This includes a 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, Assistant 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

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, this 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 for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) and implemented this test for the first time during the 2014-15 school year. In 2019-2020 the PARCC assessment was changed to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness or IAR. In order to prepare parents and teachers for the more rigorous expectations for the PARCC/IAR, Illinois changed the proficiency levels on the ISAT assessments. You will notice a drop 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.


Awards & Recognition 

2018-19 and 2021/22 IL Empower Exemplary Summative Designation

2016-17 and 2018/29 Chicago Magazine Top 10 Schools in Lake County

2016-17 Country Meadows was named one of the top 10 schools in Lake County

2015-2017 Apple Distinguished District

2009 IAHPERD Physical Fitness Blue Ribbon

2008 - 2012 ISBE Academic Excellence Award