Cobden Jr/Sr High School

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

Our PLC journey began in the summer of 2012 when the principal and a small group of teachers attended a PLC conference in St. Louis. That first year we made the goal of implementing Advisory, Guided Study Hall, re-evaluating the purpose of homework, and increasing efforts to celebrate student and staff victories.  The second year we added test retakes, but the data wasn't supportive of continuing it as a small school. Students weren't really improving much if at all.  During year three, we tried to move forward in the PLC process but with new mandates and state requirements, it proved to overwhelming for the faculty.  Instead during year three, we worked to refocus and tighten up what we were already doing.  During year four, our major PLC goal was to look even closer at our curriculum.  We had minor curriculum conversations in prior years, but with most of the faculty on board it seemed like the time was right.  With the help of a Dr. Manny workshop, we refocused our curriculum teams and worked together to identify power standards.  Once those were aligned, teams gleaned and supplemented their current curriculum to better represent the vertivally aligned curriculum.  Now in year five, our goal is to continue to improve our collaborative culture.  As a small district, collaboration tends to be challenging because of limited time, committments (multiple roles), and sometimes its easier to gossip with a coworker instead of bringing your concerns to the group table. 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

1. Pre & Post Assessment - Collaboratively, teachers have developed standard specific unit plans.  Before each unit, a pre-test is given to measure pre-teaching knowledge and to gauge student strengths and weakness. Teachers provide instruction to match the results of the pre-test.  A post test is given to measure what students know after a unit has been taught.  

2. Purposeful Homework:  Homework has been evaluated and structured to be a check for learning.  The days of assigning 50 math problems and then giving a completion grade are gone.  Homework is purposeful and limited to an amount that will gauge learning.  Teachers are required to provide timely feedback on said homework. Teachers know that advisory teachers are checking grades weekly and conferencing with students. If a grade hasn't been entered, students and advisory teachers will more than likely be asking.  

3. Weekly Progress Monitoring: The school counselor prints a weekly D/F list and compares into to prior weeks. If a student has had a D or F in math or english for three or more weeks, an intervention is applied.  The students are also likely to have a conference with the principal, counselor, and/or advisory teacher.

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

1.  Advisory - Each faculty member has 12-18 advisory students.  This teacher is responsible for monitoring academic, behavior, and social emotional status. This teacher will conference with each student weekly.  Parent contact is required weekly or bi-weekly.  This teacher documents interactions and team interventions put in place.

2. Guided Study Hall - Students are required to complete their homework to 90% completion.  If not, the student is required to stay in lunch to complete the assignment. Instead of earning a zero, half the points can be earned back on the incomplete portion. Behavior consequences have been put in place for intentional non-learners.  These include: a) 5 Guided Study Halls is a detention, b) 10 guided study halls is an in-school suspension, and c) 20 guided study halls is another detention and no more given the opportunity to earn back credit.  Now in our fifth year, we have very few intentional non-learners. The inclining consequences have encouraged them to complete work.

3. Math and ELA Reteach - If a student does not master a standard, the english or math teacher may request the student to come to reteach.  Students who have a D/F in Math for three or more weeks is required to attend math reteacher. During this class period, the student receives differentiated instruction on the standards covered in class that day in a smaller setting.

4. Math & ELA Intervention - This intervention is mandatory for students with 3 or more weeks on the D/F list.  On Extension/Intervention Days, the students will be required to attend intervention instead of their normal extension.  


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

1. 2pm Dismissal every Monday - Students are dismissed at 2pm every monday.  Teachers have an hour and a half to collaborate on curriculum.

2. Advisory Student Performance Check - On Thursdays, the faculty meets after students dismiss.  The meeting begins with student concerns and collaborate solutions.  Then we celebrate student and faculty successes.  We conclude each meeting by writing "good notes" and nominating students for the weekly Appleknocker Hall of Fame.

3.  Vertical Teams - As a small school, we had to get creative when establishing teams.  Our teams are made up of a junior high subject teacher and their high school counter-parts.  When possible we will bring in the fifth grade teachers to bridge gaps between elementary school and junior high.  We are hoping that as the elementary gets more on board the PLC train to have even better functioning district wide teams.

4. Collaborative Culture Goal Year 5 - The goal for 2016-2017 is to improve upon our level and style of collaboration.  We hope that in doing so teachers will become more comfortable sharing their concerns in and outside of the classroom.  There is great comfort and ease in discussing student problems, but when it comes to addressing our own strengths and weaknesses as a faculty we are very uncomfortable.  We have been in session since August and in that short amount of time, teachers are collaborating with their peers for professional self-improvement.  We see teachers going to observe other teachers who excel in classroom management, as well as to learn different teaching strategies.  This is our first year of a new teacher evaluation system which has provided much room for collaboration.  Teachers who are less comfortable are reaching out to their peers to get through the evaluation and student growth processes.  This includes sharing student assessment data and discussing growth or lack of growth.  

5.  School Improvement Collaboration- Historically, the school improvement team analyzes the state assessment data (Parcc) as a small group and then shares student results with the rest of the faculty.  This year the school improvement teach had the subject teams meet to analyze the data to identify strengths and weaknesses.  The teams brainstormed and submitted possible growth goals and strategies for meeting goals.  

Additional Achievement Data

Our initial focus on implementing the PLC process was to reduce the failure and dropout rates. We had spectacular success in achieving our objective in that area. What has been even more gratifying is seeing how all students have benefitted in terms of student achievement. Our students consistently scored below the state average on the previous state tests, but now score above the state in reading, mathematics, English and composite score on the state assessment. 

Our graduation rate increased from 76% to 97%. Thirty-three percent of the students have met all requirements in terms of college readiness benchmarks. Students who graduated, a full ten percent higher than the state average.  The state has moved to new higher standards for students to achieve proficiency or higher in the PARCC assessment. Yet, once again, Cobden students outperformed state averages in ELA, Reading, mathematics, and composite scores. A fundamental question that must be answered by any schoool that applies to be consideded PLC is “What evidience do you have that your students have benefitted from the PLC process by learning at higher levels. Cobden can present a compelling array of statistics to demonstrate its success in this crucial area.

Our initial goal as a PLC was not focussed on any state test, but looking at the large number of Failing grades on transcripts and retention.  Our goal was to decrease these numbers.  We didn't set any particular percentage of decrease, because we didn't know what was actually going to be possible with what at the time seemed like minor adjustments to our school day (advisory, guided study hall).  The year preceeding there were 81 failing semester grades and 12 retentions.  At the end of year one, we only had eight failing grades and two retentions.  We have continued to see these types of results.  Some other results of becoming a PLC include increasing enrollment, fewer students in alternative placement, lack of need for credit recovery, and increasing standardized test performance. 


Failing Grades








7-12th Grade










First Year Implementing

6th-12th Grade










*Implemented a more rigorous Math curriculum

*Added Math Reteach after 1st semester leading to a decrease in failures 2nd semester.





Truancy Issues – Almost all failures belonged to two students




In Progress

Our Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate has increased since becoming a PLC.
Adjusted High School Cohort Graduation Rate
Class of 2012 76.74
Class of 2013 82.41
Class of 2014 92.31
Class of 2015 89.47
Class of 2016 97.78
Class of 2017  
Percent of Change


We have closed the gap between our local ACT average and the Illinois State average ACT, as well as increased the percentage of students meeting the college readiness benchmarks in each sub-area.
Five Year Trends - Average ACT Scores
Year Number of Students Tested Average ACT Score
English Mathematics Reading Science Composite
School State School State School State School State School State School State
2010-11 39 146,827 18.3 19.1 19.3 20.2 19 19.6 17.8 19.8 18.8 19.8
2011-12 28 146,454 17.3 19.7 19.4 20.4 18.1 19.5 18.6 20.2 18.5 20.1
2012-13 (PLC Y1) 28 143,972 18.3 19.4 20.1 20.4 20.2 20.2 19.3 20 19.5 20.1
2013-14 35 143,745 17.9 19.8 19 20.4 20.2 20.2 18.6 20.1 19.1 20.3
2014-15 43 137,278 20.2 19.9 20 20.2 20.8 20.2 19 20.1 20.1 20.1
2015-16 Illinois did not offer the ACT so no data comparison available. 
Five Year Trends - Percent of Students who Met College Readiness Benchmarks
Year Number of Students Tested Average ACT Score
English Mathematics Reading Science Met All Four
School State School State School State School State School State School State
2010-11 39 146,827 49 56 33 38 31 39 15 27 10 21
2011-12 28 146,454 43 60 21 39 32 40 11 27 11 21
2012-13 (PLC Y1) 28 143,972 57 58 36 38 50 45 21 27 21 22
2013-14 35 143,745 54 60 37 39 43 37 29 34 20 23
2014-15 43 137,278 65 61 40 39 47 37 19 33 14 23
2015-16 Illinois did not offer the ACT so no data comparison available. 
lllinois made the switch to the PARCC assessment two years ago making it difficult to provide any long-term junior high data.  However, in two administrations of the parcc assessment, we have outscored the state average in several areas. 
Spring 2016 Parcc Data
  ELA Composite Reading Writing Math Composite
  School State School State School State School State
Class of 2017 (11) 735 733 44 44 31 28 722 714
Class of 2023 (6) 733 737 43 45 31 30 744 732
Class of 2022 (7) 733 737 45 46 29 30 740 733
Class of 2021 (8) 742 739 48 46 31 31 750 731
Spring 2015 Parcc Data
  ELA Composite Reading Writing Math Composite
  School State School State School State School State
Class of 2016 (11) 751 732 50 44 35 29 732 717
Class of 2023 (5) 741 732 46 46 33 31 739 732
Class of 2022 (6) 734 738 43 45 32 31 734 732
Class of 2021 (7) 745 739 49 46 32 31 742 733
Class of 2020 (8) 732 740 45 46 29 32 732 733


Closing the Gap Presentors  -April 2016

ROE 30 Teacher Institute Presentors - 10/7/2016