Matt Renwick •
Mineral Point Elementary School • Mineral Point, WI
Creating the Future We Envision
An announcement posted on the school district’s website, www.mineralpointschools.org:
“The Mineral Point Unified School District received outstanding academic news from the Cooperative Educational Service Agency #6 in Oshkosh. CESA 6 engaged in a study of its Effectiveness Project districts who have seen exemplary academic growth from the 2012-13 to 2015-16 school years. Of districts participating in the Effectiveness Project, Mineral Point saw unmatched academic growth.
CESA 6 has been a leader in educator effectiveness across the state. Their team of professionals partnered with Wisconsin educators to design the CESA 6 Effectiveness Project, a multi-tiered professional evaluation system for teachers, educational specialists, school administrators, central office administrators, and district administrators/superintendents. The CESA 6 Effectiveness Project has been certified as a Department of Public Instruction equivalent model of the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System since 2013. This means school districts may use this system with full confidence that it has met and exceeded the rigorous equivalency standards set by the state for a system to evaluate teachers and building administrators.
CESA 6 is reaching out to the top 15 districts to learn more about factors that may have attributed to this outstanding achievement. Superintendent Luke Francois surveyed staff members to find out their thoughts. Mineral Point staff members cited the following reasons they feel academic growth has taken place at a record pace in the district:
Professional Learning Communities, which provide protected time on Wednesday afternoons for staff to focus on results and growth
Changed grading practices and better benchmark assessments Dedicated daily time for small group interventions and enrichment
Dr. Anthony Muhammad’s teachings on transforming school culture
A more inclusive special education environment, including co-teaching
Low turnover of staff allowing for continuity
While there are certainly other factors contributing to academic growth, these were the ones most commonly mentioned by staff when asked. In November 2016, the Mineral Point School District received the highest rating possible from the Department of Public Instruction on its State Report Card.”
Starting in 2012, Mineral Point Unified School District set out to achieve this outcome. We brought in a series of speakers from Solution Tree. Anthony Muhammad came to Mineral Point twice. Each consultant shared the philosophy and effectiveness around professional learning communities. These sessions were hosted for all faculty, followed up with discussion and debriefing. A few PLC practices were adopted in grade levels and departments, but uniformity across the district was not evident.
In 2015, teachers were asked to share their preference for moving forward with a three-year PLC implementation plan that would expect all faculty to collaborate around student learning, define essential learning outcomes, align assessments, and further develop a robust response to intervention. The staff was surveyed and the overwhelming will of the group was to move forward with the PLC implementation plan.
Year One of the plan (2015-2016) focused on two full days of staff training and three dates with teleconference support of 75 minutes each for principals to address key leadership strategies and solve challenges during the first year of implementation. Specifically, all faculty received training in how to develop essential learning outcomes (ELOs) from the Common Core State Standards. Paul Farmer guided the staff training. In this year, the district also facilitated early release on Wednesdays; common weekly collaboration time was now available.
Year Two of the plan (2016-2017) had faculty review the work completed with the ELOs, revised these goals, and uploaded them to a common PLC website for all faculty to view and update. Chris Jakicic came to Mineral Point for two days for an all faculty training on common formative assessments. In addition, over 20 Mineral Point faculty attended the PLC Institute in Milwaukee in August 2016. Teleconferences through Global PD were also utilized to support our work.
Year Three of the plan (2017-2018) brings Maria Nielsen to the Mineral Point Unified School District. She will be spending two days with us in August to guide our faculty in implementing Response to Intervention with success. During the school year, more time is being dedicated toward staff training on how to best utilize data software to make better decisions regarding student intervention and enrichment. This will be especially helpful during our I/E or WIN blocks.
By creating the future we had envisioned, students are more successful now than ever before. This is a win for our kids, our staff, our families, and our community.