Clinton High School

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

The road to building a successful PLC at CHS was a long and winding road with multiple detours and road closures! The process has evolved since the 2010-2011 school year and now CHS can say that everyone has bought into the process, because of the extensive time we took to build our Mission, Vision, Values and Goals over the past three years.

The staff had some ownership of the PLC process in the beginning, but it wasn’t until we defined our mission, how we were going accomplish our mission, what we were going to have to behave like to carry out our mission and determine what we were trying to achieve, before everyone understood the why behind what we were doing.


This came about because we decided to look at each student as if they were our own child. Our theme has always been “Is it good for kids?”, but we turned it into, “Is it good enough for my kid?” We wanted each teacher to act as if they were teaching to their own child, and if they did that, we knew we would definitely start to move mountains.


With that being said, we had to define what we stood for. We understood the Clinton Community School District's mission, and it was our duty to carry out their mission, so we adopted the district’s mission as our own.


Once our mission was identified and agreed upon, using Rick Dufour’s, Fist to Five, consensus building techniques, we moved on to our vision. Our vision was going to be how we were going to carry out our mission. This generated a lot of debate and discussion, but after a month, consensus was built, and we had our vision.


The next step in our process was to establish our values or collective commitments. Teachers and administrators were given the task to determine how each group was going to act in order to carry out the mission and vision statements. These commitments were made and agreed upon by each member of the staff. These commitments were made to hold each member of the PLC accountable to their actions. Teachers are expected to be accountable to the Collective Commitments, as are administrators.


The final step in creating a successful PLC at CHS was setting a goal for the entire school. Each team had an opportunity to share what they felt the school should focus on during the year. Through more discussion and consensus building, the school decided to focus on raising the graduation rate. To do this, they didn’t want to focus just on failures, they wanted to focus on all students. We decided to focus on raising the  grade point average of individual teams.

Throughout the process of defining what we wanted to become, each team took on more and more ownership of what we are trying to do at Clinton High School. This process allowed CHS to focus on creating high performing, collaborative teams, that focused on individual student results.


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Clinton High School's recent success can be attributed to many factors, teacher efficacy, student ownership/motivation and even administrative support and guidance. However, the biggest factor in CHS’s success comes down to the systematic supports ALL students receive when they need them.

There are two main ways student achievement is monitored at Clinton High School. One way is the weekly team meetings based in the content area of the student. In the weekly team meeting, members identify what each student needs in regards to their achievement level towards the promise standard they are working on. This is done by reviewing Common Formative Assessments that each team has done collaboratively. By reviewing the assessments, based on common scoring and the use of rubrics, teachers can then identify what interventions are needed to answer questions 3 and 4 of the PLC process. This close look at individual teaching practices allows teachers to identify what worked and didnt work in regards to the instructional strategies used by indiviudal teachers. In order to best serve all of our students, students are then placed in groups based on need. This allows for individualized and small group feedback to push students to the next level of learning, whether that is to the proficiency stage or enrichment/extension phase. Team members identify Tier 1/ Tier 2 interventions to take place during their class period or at lunch. At-Risk team members who are assigned to the content level teams are available for assistance in the classroom to help students who need to get to proficiency on the standard, or even to help students who have mastered the standard. It is very important to note, students are assessed, re-taught and assessed again, as many times as it takes to get a student to mastery of a standard. During the weekly meeting, teachers share learning strategies with each other that might help students get to mastery.


The other way all student learning is monitored is in our weekly Data Team Meeting. The CHS Data Team meets on Wednesdays to provide interventions to students who need them the most. During this two hour meeting, the Data Team, comprised of At-Risk teachers, local education agency personnel, special education teachers, library staff and administration, review student attendance, behaviors and grades of all students 9-12.

Each grade level team meets for 30 minutes. In the 30 minutes, all students who are failing a class are assigned one of our many interventions. The interventions that are assigned are based on the needs of the student. Most of these interventions are based at the Tier 1 or Tier 2 levels. In rare occasions, students are referred to our Tier 3 Intervention team.


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

Clinton High School is well known in the state of Iowa because of the way we structured our intervention system to help all students. It must be noted that all interventions have taken place with no extra money provided to the high school. In all actuality, the district has cut spending during our journey. We have reexamined the way we use our resources, and decided to use them in a way that meets the needs of all students. Our At-Risk team members, who used to teach in self-contained classrooms, were placed in content level teams, to help all students in all classrooms. We have asked staff members who had flexible time, (counselors, library staff, secretaries, administrators and custodial staff) to be available for interventions based on student need. Our systems of interventions work because we have an “all-hands on deck” mentality to support student learning.


In the beginning, CHS focused on only 9th Grade Algebra and English 9, because we knew there was a need (Kids failing English 9 and or Algebra were less likely to graduate on time, nationwide and at CHS) and we knew we had some willing teachers who could help carry out the interventions. We started out with a lunch study table for those students who were struggling meeting standards. Students who received a Lunch Study table pass would go to the front of the lunch line and grab their food and take it back to a classroom adjacent to the lunchroom. Our At-Risk teachers were made available for any reteaching of lessons that a student might not understand. The primary function of Lunch Study Tables are for students to be re-taught a lesson in a way that makes sense for them or to catch-up on any missing assignments or assessments.  Once we saw failures decrease in both of those classes, we opened up Lunch Study Table to 11th and 12th grade, for English and Math. We also instituted Lunch Study Tables for students who are in Honors and AP classes.


However, some students needed more than just study table. Some students needed extended time. We then instituted 6th Period. 6th period was placed after school, where we would require students to stay (even in they missed athletics) to work on promise standards. This was done with contracts between home and the school, indicating the student would be removed from 6th Period after meeting the standards. This time was taught by At-Risk teachers, at no-cost to the district, because we shifted the contract time of those teachers.


To ensure all students were getting the extra “push” they needed, CHS instituted “Rise Above Time” to take the place of the dated homeroom period that took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During our 30 minute daily Rise Above Time, all students would go back to the classroom the Rise Above day corresponded with to work on enrichments or to be retaught. On a Day 1, all students would go back to their first period classes.  On a Day 2, students would go back to their 2nd period class. Day 3 would be to third period. Day 4 to their fourth period and day 5 to their fifth period. On the 6th day, students would go to their homerooms and graph their grades.  Rise Above time ensures that all students are getting work at their level, with the amount of support they need.


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

There are 4 major stakeholders that comprise our teams at CHS: General Education teachers, Special Education teachers, At-Risk teachers, and Administration.  These teams are based on common courses:

  • 9/10 Language Arts

  • 11/12 Language Arts

  • Algebra I

  • Geometry

  • 11/12 Math

  • Physics/Bio

  • Chemistry

  • 9/10 Social Studies

  • 11/12 Social Studies

  • Career Technical Education

  • Food and Consumer Science

  • Fine Arts

  • K-12 Visual Arts

  • Business

  • 9/12 Wellness

The first step in ensuring successful teams was to ensure the master schedule revolved around common prep times for each team. Each team is expected to meet at least one time a week, during the school day, for 60 minutes. During this time, teams are focused on student achievement by using  a laser-like focus on results. This systematic way of looking at students was a long and difficult road. Teachers had to let go of “I taught it, they didn’t learn it,” and shift to a mentality of “every kid must learn and it is our duty to get them there!”

One way to ensure a laser-like focus was instilled into each team,  was for each team to establish norms. The norms that were created were not professional courtesies, but were based on how to collaborate and build inter-dependency with each other. To do this, all team norms revolve around communication,  the decision making process,  and holding each other accountable for their actions.

The next step in ensuring successful teams, was that each of our teams identified four promise standards per trimester. Promise standards are standards that meet the three criteria of leverage, readiness and endurance, as referenced by Bob Marzano and Rick Stiggens. By saying they are promised standards, each team ensures that ALL students will obtain at least 70% proficiency on each of the standards. The standards are selected from the Iowa Core, the adopted standards from the Iowa Department of Education.

Once the standards have been identified and vetted,  the next step asks for each team to create CFA’s (Common Formative Assessments) based on their identified promise standards. These CFA’s are used by each member of the team. The members also ensure against biases because of the use of standardized rubrics based on proficiency. Common grading also takes place during the team time, where team members grade each other’s CFA’s. In addition to CFA’s, all teams are expected to pre-assess students prior knowledge of the standard, so they can ensure all students will get the guidance they need at their level of understanding.

All teams have to ensure that assessments/lab/projects are weighted at 85% for the class, and homework/classwork is weighted at 15%. Students are also not assessed penalties on late-work, as we want to ensure we are assessing learning, and not compliance or grading on behaviors. This puts a huge emphasis on ensuring meaningful work during the school day.

Once the standards have been selected and the CFA’s have been corrected, members work together through the four essential questions posed in Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work by Robert Dufour, Rebecca Dufour, Robert Eaker and Thomas Many::

  1. What do we want our students to know?

  2. How will we know when they know it?

  3. What will our actions be if our students do not learn it?

  4. What will our actions be if our students do learn it?

Each team has their own dedicated Google Template that ensures the PLC process by addressing each of the four questions.  Over the course of the past five years, our templates have changed extensively. We have gone from team specific templates, to a template the entire school is expected to use. During this time, templates have continued to evolve because with our PLC process. However, each template allows for student achievement to be tracked each week within each team. Interventions for students or small groups of students, are assigned each week in the template.

Each team has also determined a SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) goals to raise the overall GPA of students in their PLC. Each team determines how they calculate the GPA. This process has allowed for even more ownership in the learning process, as teachers are now striving to meet the needs of a wider range of students.

Additional Achievement Data


Graduation Rates

4-Year Grad Rate

5-Year Grade Rate





Class of 2011





Class of 2012





Class of 2013





Class of 2014





Class of 2015





Class of 2016




  Graduation Rate Rationale:

Although not meeting the state average,yet,  CHS has made it abundantly clear how important it is to get students to the finish line by helping ALL kids get there. CHS does not have an alternative high school. All students who are apart of the Clinton Community School district come to our campus to ensure learning. Some districts believe in alternative schooling, but Clinton does not. We invision some day have having 100% of our students graduate, because that is what is necessary for our students to be succesful. We have begun a campaign to include our community in our mission and vision. We are blessed to have a very hardworking staff, however, we need to engage the community in the good things that are happening. To do so, we have sent out montly newsletters, increased volunteering opportunities for our students and have implemented calling parents for conferences when they come up. For us to truly be great, we need to give the community an opportunity to be apart of our school. 

 ACT Rationale:

We have also attacked our curriculum in regards to the ACT. We know it is very important for our kids to be succesful on the ACT, so we must prepare them better for it. We took some steps in the 15-16 school year to align CHS's curriclulum to the ACT. We brought in an local area education agency representative that had expert knowledge in the ACT. However, now what we have done is actually district wide! In the spring of '17, the district started going through the formal adoption of aligning our standards to the ACT. We know this deliberate act will take some time to see some results however, we know our students will be more college and career ready based on this work. 


ACT Composite Scores




Class of 2014



Class of 2015



Class of 2016

Class of 2017








Iowa Assessments Proficiency 2014-2016


11th Grade Class

Reading Percent Proficient

State Percentage  Proficient












11th Grade Class

Math Percent Proficient

State Proficient










  • Named one of Iowa's Best High Schools by US News and World Report for the past three consecutive years (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Ranked in the top 35 in the Annual Iowa AP Index in regards to AP Tests taken
  • Graced the cover of Education Week in regards to our RTI Program
  • Hosted over 90 Schools for "RTI Showcase Days" to share our PLC/RTI Journey. 
  • Been named a Model RTI Building Sight by Solution Tree
  • Apart of a Model PLC District
  • Highlighted in All Things PLC Magazine 2017 Fall Issue for our Mission, Vision, Collective Commitments and Goals action plan