Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

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

Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy was established in 2012 as a Title I STEM school in the Cherokee County School District. As a STEM Academy, mathematics and science naturally became a focal point of instruction. As a school, we saw the need to incorporate authentic data with intentionality in efforts to raise student achievement in those areas of instruction. In 2016, we began our journey for effectively implementing a Professional Learning Community focusing on procedures to develop and establish a solid foundation for understanding the intentions and predicted outcomes for the implementation and development of Clark Creek’s Professional Learning Community. During year one, our efforts and hopes were to empower teacher leaders, faculty, and staff in successfully developing a collaborative schoolwide team that was student centered and data driven to raise student achievement levels in the area of Mathematics.

Now that we have identified a school wide vision and mission, how do we begin the process? We decided to form a Professional Learning Community Leadership Team to facilitate and lead the charge. The leadership team was created with the whole school in mind and was comprised of administrators and 12 faculty members which included homeroom teachers, support staff, and teachers specializing in services for Tier 4 students. Teacher leaders were chosen based on their ability to collaboratively work with peers and serve as a positive influence that is committed to working towards common goals and high expectations leading Clark Creek students and teachers to high achievement levels. The leadership team that was developed in 2016 has remained intact with only a few adjustments. Monthly collaborative meetings are conducted to share data findings, analysis, common school wide trends, high impact strategies determined through John Hattie’s research, and other agenda items needing attention to continuously strive and reach school established achievement goals. Information from these meetings are taken back to their peers where they serve as facilitator in the Professional Learning Community process.

After building a strong cultural awareness and a school climate that embraces change in 2016, we began a more intensive systematic approach in 2017 that included English Language Arts as a focal area in addition to Math. Clark Creek felt and saw the need to incorporate professional development opportunities that would assist our Professional Learning Community in effective and intentional data analysis used to drive instruction including research-based strategies and various assessments. To prepare our school, all staff members received Data Teams for Learning (DT4L) training taking them through the process of effectively collecting and analyzing data to determine SMART goals and to choose high impact strategies for instruction. The leadership team served as facilitators in the process by working with teams to create common formative assessments and analysis of assessment data to monitor student progress and the effectiveness of implemented strategies. So why did we choose to implement DT4L building wide and continue with the process for years to follow? The answer is simple. It works!

When analyzing our school wide College Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) data, Clark Creek has raised its overall score of a 78.3   in 2018 to an 86.9 in 2019. This indicates that Clark Creek’s overall performance is the 6th highest elementary school and the 7th highest school within the district. Additionally, we received a 4 star rating on our school climate survey. 

Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy knows that the diligent and intentional work conducted in our Professional Learning Community has positively contributed to our students’ success. Through empowerment of all stakeholders and increasingly rigorous standards and expectations, all of Clark Creek’s staff members have taken part of a collaborative effort to raise student achievement by making every decision with students at the forefront of the process. Our staff has witnessed the power and benefits of our Professional Learning Community. The results of our collaborative efforts have inspired our staff to remain committed to continuing to provide the best instruction possible for our students and to support our mission for years to come.                 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our Professional Learning Community monitors student progress, learning, and teaching practices using a variety of assessments and data sources. Data sources include, but are not limited to county benchmarks, EasyCBM, i-Ready, Scholastic Next Step Guided Reading Assessment, Fundations, and Rigorous Curriculum Design (RCD) units of ELA instruction.

Common formative assessments and summative assessments are given throughout our ELA and Math units to guide decision making processes within our PLC. Assessment data is used to choose appropriate high impact strategies targeting priority standards accompanied with instructional tools that meet the needs of all learners. Through the DT4L process, teachers analyze pre-assessment data to identify a target standard, and they begin to implement high impact strategies. Common formative assessments and mid-assessments are administered to check student progress on mastering the target standard. Strategies that have been implemented are revisited for effectiveness and adjusted as needed. Teams work vertically among grade levels to analyze common trends, provide collaborative input, and create a sense of consistency and connectiveness building wide creating a positive and effective work environment for all stakeholders.

The DT4L process helps guide the PLC. All teachers meet weekly with administration and PLC facilitators to analyze data, identify priority standards, implement high impact strategies, and track student progress. A data board is housed in our Professional Development room where all staff members meet to chart and record unit data. All grade levels and support areas are represented on our data wall creating a vertical alignment. Specialty areas of P.E., Music, Art, STEM Labs, Media Center, and more provide information pertaining to their current units of study to create integrated approaches and opportunities amongst all subject areas. School wide data is housed electronically using our district’s learning management tool called Canvas. Data tracking copies are also available in our Professional Development room in grade level data dig portfolios.  

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

Clark Creek has a master schedule that allows for all grade levels to have 120 minutes of ELA instruction and 90 minutes of Mathematics instruction. For ELA, a balanced literacy model is implemented which includes whole group and small group instruction incorporating read alouds, phonics, guided reading, and writing. Through read alouds and mini lessons, STEM and content areas are integrated seamlessly and are embedded in everyday instruction across the curriculum. Additionally, WIN Time (What I Need) is part of our everyday instruction. Results from the data analysis are used to form fluid learning groups that receive targeted instruction based on their current learning levels determined through DT4L processes. This time provides the opportunity for remediation and enrichment ensuring all student needs are met based on their pre and post assessment data. Additional support is provided through our Early Intervention Program where an inclusion model is used to provide scaffolds and interventions in the areas of ELA and Mathematics. All staff members work collaboratively to ensure that students are being supported and challenged at the appropriate level and rate, so students can master their current level of instruction and progress to the next level of instruction. We also provide two afternoons a week where students can stay for extra tutoring as well as Saturday mornings. 

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

Clark Creek’s Professional Learning Community provides all students with a rigorous curriculum that challenges and extends their academic experiences creating high levels of teaching and student learning. Decision making processes are conducted collaboratively with the priority of students in mind. Common planning periods for team members including their support staff are scheduled daily allowing PLC data conversations to become part of our school culture and not a stand-alone conversation held during PLC meetings. Tasks such as reviewing data, planning strategies through Response to Intervention (RTI), developing common formative assessments, reflecting on instructional strategies and practices, and addressing progress towards SMART goals commonly take place during planning period sessions.

Each grade level has a PLC facilitator that is a member of the Professional Learning Community leadership team as well as two instructional coaches that assist with the facilitation of each PLC. Facilitators are charged with the task of keeping team members motivated, engaged, and productive concerning their assigned roles within the PLC. Roles include but are not limited to data technician, time keeper, and resource provider. The two instructional coaches work to provide ongoing professional development conducted in house pertaining to a variety of topics including DT4L, high impact strategies, and curriculum initiatives that coincide with the work being conducted through our PLC. Through their observations and curriculum audits, common trends can be identified assisting in the development of specialized professional development sessions which are created to fill gaps in instructional learning and providing opportunities for teacher growth. Ultimately, this leads to higher student achievement levels.

As an Elementary School, Clark Creek's Kindergarten through third grade teachers are self contained teaching all subject areas. Fourth and fifth grade are departmentalized where each teacher teaches either ELA and Social Social Studies or Math and Science. Clark Creek recognizes that Social Studies is an area of concern which needs to be addressed. To provide more instruction in the area of Social Studies, we incorporated an Innovation Lab focusing on digital writing through the use of Social Studies content. Through this integrated approach, we are supporting ELA, Social Studies, and STEM for all students. Additionally, our PLC conversations have included more Social Studies standards integrated with ELA. All staff members have received professional development to support the integration of Social Studies content into their curriculum.        

This year, Clark Creek is branching out to assist neighboring schools within our county. PLC observation dates are being offered to assist other schools in their PLC process and implementation plan. Academic coaches from various schools will have the opportunity to come to Clark Creek and see our PLC in action followed by a debriefing session with our academic coaches. Through the debriefing session, we hope to offer valuable information that can be taken back to their schools. Additionally, Clark Creek hopes to gain suggestions or ideas from visitors that can be applied to our current PLC practices.   

  • Title I Distinguished School
  • SSTAGE Star Award for Promising Practices (Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators)
  • Five Star Climate Survey Rating on CCRPI
  • Most EL students in the county growing an achievement band on ACCESS
  • 2016 Georgia STEM Certification
  • 2017 Robotics Team First Place at State level for Project Presentation
  • 17 School Awards at the Sequoyah Regional Technology Fair
  • 2017 TAG Award Finalist
  • 2018 Microsoft Educator Showcase School
  • 2018 SSTAGE RTI Award
  • 2018 TAG Award Finalist
  • 2019 AdvancEd STEM Certification