Neil Armstrong Elementary School

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

District 54 has been instrumental in laying the foundation of Armstrong Elementary School’s Professional Learning Community (PLC) since 2009. It was with our district’s new goals and expectations that we began our journey as a PLC:  embracing the mindset to ensure student learning, building a culture of collaboration through structures, and analyzing assessment data to determine student needs and teacher actions.  

To begin, Armstrong’s master schedule was designed to form collaborative grade-level teams, allowing our teachers and support staff to have common planning time in both literacy and math.   During this time, teachers develop planning tools to structure the meeting with the purpose of discussing student learning. The focus is twofold:   “What is it we want our students to learn?” and “How will we know if each student is learning the intended skill?”.  These questions lead us to a deeper understanding of the needs of our students and an urgency to ensure that understanding is shared among all staff.  We accomplish this by utilizing tools such as the District Curricular Resource Guide, planning templates, and a communication tool to plan and collaborate with the same end in mind.

Collaborative teams made up of classroom, EL resource, special service, and gifted teachers, as well as coaches, play an essential role in interpreting data to form flexible groups during math and literacy acceleration.  Teams meet bi-monthly to review student data, align guided instruction, and problem-solve supports for students who are not making growth.  Collaborative teams also look at students who are meeting standards and plan for instruction to enrich these students without missing initial instruction.

Working as a Professional Learning Community is a way of life at Armstrong, and we continue to find many successes implementing this model.  Teachers, along with support staff, know the importance of PLC’s and work together to ensure that all students are held to high expectations.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Armstrong uses a variety of tools to monitor student learning throughout the year. We use formal and informal assessments to drive our instruction and make purposeful decisions for student support.

Formal Assessments

Common assessments are administered at the end of each unit for literacy and math. Assessments are created prior to the start of instruction during collaborative team meetings. The data collected from these assessments is utilized by teams to make decisions about future instruction and acceleration groups. Students who perform below grade level on common assessments receive targeted instruction and additional support during our acceleration block that takes place outside of core instruction time. Additionally, students who are proficient on the common assessment are given opportunities to extend their knowledge with curriculum-aligned enrichment.

The students at Armstrong take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test three times per year. This data helps us create flexible groups for acceleration. The information gives us a baseline for which students are performing below, at, and above grade level in reading and math. Using MAP data as a guide, the teachers set appropriate academic goals in reading and math.

Informal Assessments

Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking Systems provide teachers with information about student fluency, accuracy, comprehension, and instructional reading levels. We use this system to form guided reading groups and track reading level growth.

Teachers and support staff use anecdotal notes to collect student data during guided reading. These assessments help us monitor fluency, comprehension, and the ability to apply essential skills taught during the unit. Anecdotal notes are used to drive discussions during our monthly data meetings and weekly literacy meetings. We use our notes and observations to support the decisions we make for student groupings. They also help us brainstorm the best ways to bridge achievement gaps for students who aren’t making sufficient growth.

Exit slips are used as a whole-group and small-group assessment tool. These targeted assessments help teachers and support staff determine which students are showing proficiency in the essential skills being taught in literacy and math. Teachers use this data to modify their instruction and create small guided groups for targeted instruction based on need.

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

Teachers at Armstrong School believe that all students can learn.  We set high expectations and instill a growth mindset through modeling. We provide learning opportunities where students see how mistakes can make us stronger and that failure can lead to success. This focus on social-emotional learning helps our students reach their highest potential in the classroom.  We feel it is our responsibility to ensure student success by providing opportunities for additional time and support.

Our school and district implement an intervention and enrichment model to provide all students with a systematic, targeted approach to intervene or accelerate their learning. Each day, there is a thirty-minute acceleration block for every grade level in both literacy and math. During this block of time, all teachers and support staff provide instruction to maximize learning in small, targeted groups. Students needing intervention are in small groups with a 1:8 maximum ratio. Once students are grouped based on data, teachers provide differentiated lessons that align to the initial instruction students received during shared reading and math. In order to make acceleration possible, and to provide our students with the most targeted support, the master schedule does not overlap any grade level acceleration block. Additionally, all students receive acceleration, so students are not missing new instruction during this time. We are constantly monitoring these flexible groupings and individual progress in order to keep the groups fluid.

Students who need additional time and support may also receive tier 3 intervention which can include: Number Worlds, Lexia Reading program, Wilson Reading program, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Learning Ally, CoWriter 6, Write Out Loud, and Fastmath. Their progress is monitored using Aimsweb. Furthermore, these students meet 2 to 3 times per week with a specialist to focus on specific basic skill deficits.

Students have additional opportunities to receive extra time and support both during and after school. Homework club is offered every day for all grade levels, which provides students with the time and support to complete their homework. English Learners who would benefit from additional time and support in writing are invited to an after school writing club two days per week from October through January.

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

Teachers take an active role in leadership opportunities at Armstrong. The School Leadership Team analyzes and reviews data to drive our School Improvement Plan and focus on our areas of staff development. Additionally, teachers can take part in task forces each year. Members of the task force spend time planning and reflecting on literacy and math curriculum, as well as technology. The information acquired at full-day task force sessions is then shared out at the building level to provide staff with the information needed to support students.

Every Wednesday, Armstrong has 90 minutes of staff development. During this time, 30 minutes are set aside for collaborative teams to reflect and plan for instruction. Bilingual resource teachers, literacy coaches, math coaches, support staff and classroom teachers come together to discuss student progress at each grade level. The teams share strategies to meet the needs of all students. In addition to our weekly Wednesday meetings, Armstrong has half-day inservice meetings. Collaborative teams analyze the most recent student data, plan and prepare for upcoming units in literacy and math, create and reflect on common assessments, and create guided and acceleration groups.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Additional Information – Armstrong Elementary School 

In reviewing and reflecting on our data, we noticed some grade level results declined from 2016 to 2017.  We met as a school leadership team during our Data Retreat to examine these results school-wide.  During the 2017-18 school year, we recommitted to PLC practices to ensure our teams were functioning at the highest level to improve student achievement.  We believe that as a result of tightening our PLC practices, examining acceleration groups to better support student needs, and maximizing instructional time, our student achievement results increased as measured by PARCC 2018.  Preliminary PARCC results show an increase of 6% of students meeting or exceeding on PARCC ELA, and an increase of 8% of students meeting or exceeding on PARCC Math.  Our next step for continuous improvement is to utilize a Communication Tool in Reading and Math to better align Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction, and develop a common assessment reflection process to ensure our interventions are focused on student results.

90/90 Recogition from the District 54 Board of Education for meeting the goal of performing the Top 10% nationally, based on MAP results in student growth.

CAN Award winning school, recognized for holding events that promote activity and nutrition in our students.