Natick Public Schools

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

A decade ago, we sent all of our leadership staff (department heads, curriculum leaders, team leaders and elementary instructional leaders) to Solution Tree’s training for PLCs with Dr. Dufour.  We then negotiated common planning time for all staff within the district PK-12 and negotiated the core PLC functions a defined by Dufour, Dufour Many, and Eaker to be the central work of teachers and leaders during this negotiated common planning time.  

We then created common assessments based on identified power standards in our curriculum around which for staff to design instruction and interventions. We have continued to sustain, nurture and deepen the work begun long ago with yearly refreshers for leaders and, in the past year, a district-wide refresh on PLCs, their core work and their work relative to robust RTI programming.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Student learning is monitored in through coordinated district pre-assessments, formative assessments coordinated through buildings by job alike in coordinated planning time  PLC meetings as well as in examining summative assessment data (all are coordinated district common assessments).  Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions are based on these assessments.  Principal conduct daily walkthroughs and run data meetings to determine student placements in time-bound interventions that follow up on teacher data examination of common assessments. Principals then present mid and end of year data presentations on the achievement trends and intervention needs of their buildings to administrators at the central office. The Central Office then determines which resources, training, and products deployed to staff at large through district professional development days or to job-embedded PLC specific training.  For example, if a particular grade level PLC identifies an area of PD need or a needed resource, we will respond to that identified need based on the case made by the principals through their data analysis.  The loop between the teachers and their data, their principals and the central office is constant, cyclical and team oriented--focused on student mastery of our expected power standards.

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

The Office of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation and Student Services have continued to collaborate on this program resulting in the following RTI goal in supporting student achievement and closing the achievement gaps. As of  May 2017, the Natick public schools has  fully implemented a systematic, guaranteed and viable RTI system for the district with a focus on secondary schools (as no guaranteed system existed in prior phases of the school system).

However, beginning in our elementary schools, the RTI process is driven by a data team comprised of the principal, reading specialist and each grade level PLC teachers (i.e all grade 3 teachers)  with their guidance counselor and psychologist.

This team reviews universal screening and progress monitoring assessments designed to indicate if children have met our agreed upon power learning standards by grade level and subject.  If students are found to not master these areas, reading specialists and math supports are pushed into classes for small group and guided instruction. If the child still struggles, they are given additional learning time in the subject area in addition to the regular classroom instruction.  
Should all of this fail to produce mastery of standards the child study team examines the case and decides more intensive interventions OR recommends testing for special education services.
District-wide data discussions seek to track trends across all of the district's PLCs and provide support and district training.

Both Natick middle schools have implemented an RTI block and a data team structure. In addition, we have developed entrance and exit requirements for achievement, implemented new screening and intervention solutions identified by the district for use with Identified students, and developed extension and enrichment options for students who have mastered core content.

Through this initiative we also trained data teams at the middle and high school level, explored intervention systems at Natick High School with commensurate curriculum supports/intervention products. With this programming in place, we now have a greater ability to focus on the reduction of racial, SPED and poverty achievement gaps as a means to support all types of learners and provide access to Honors and AP high-level coursework.

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

Working from the above baseline, we have ensured that despite budget cuts, all staff continues to share instructional planning time within job alike groups.  Within these groups in buildings (i.e. all grade 3 teachers at Brown School) and in district-wide job alike (all grade 3 teachers across the district).  We examine our pre-assessment data and design instruction to meet identified power standards by grade level and subject.  We identify holes in our collective expertise and resources to meet student needs, design RTI groups for Tier 1 and Tier 2 teaching groups prior to having our students participate in our summative common curriculum assessments (roughly 4 per year on content per instructional area and 6 writing pieces per year for every student in every subject area).  We train our staff in understanding the power standards, backward design, and collaborative scoring and looking at student work/data to ensure calibration of expectations for student mastery.  This occurs for every teacher in every grade and discipline in our district.  Our principals use PLC time to evaluate our professional culture portions of our teacher evaluation rubric which specifically gives teachers feedback on the use of data, reflection, reteaching, meeting the diverse needs of students, and participating in a professional team in our district).  We use our PLCs to deploy all new expectations (e.g. teaching using technology or implementing blended and personalized learning pedagogy).  We find our PLCs to be nurturing to staff, serve to mentor newer staff, allow veteran staff to model best practices and serve in general to buffer deployment of educational innovations within our extremely forward-thinking lighthouse district.