Sam Rayburn High School

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

Sam Rayburn High is a suburban school located just outside of Houston, Texas, in the great city of Pasadena. We were initially introduced to the PLC process over a decade ago and had pockets of subject-specific success, but had yet to commit to the journey with campus-wide fidelity. In 2017, student performance on state assessments was at an all-time low and we knew it was time for positive change. It was in that moment our true PLC journey began.

Year one began with taking inventory of what essential pieces were already in place including established content teams with common planning periods. We also had campus leadership who had attended the PLC at Work conference with working knowledge of the process. We then assembled our guiding coalition to establish our mission, vision, and collective commitments. We ensured all departments had voice in the process and worked to achieve consensus before finalizing the foundation that would guide our work. We committed to our mission- “We get Texans college, career, and world ready.” It’s short and sweet, but oh so powerful. Our next step was to train our teams on the foundational pieces including establishing norms and learning the inner workings of a true collaborative team. This included building trust to allow for holding one another accountable and learning how to work through disagreements. Within that collaborative culture, we also knew our focus had to shift from teaching to student learning. We worked to design Tier 1 instruction that answered the four critical questions. We moved past asking, “What does the TEK say?” and evaluated, “What does the TEK mean?” as well as asking ourselves what mastery looked like. Teams shined the light on alignment as it related to developing assessments that were a valid measure of mastery. Although at times uncomfortable, it was truly a year of “aha” moments and growth.  

Year two allowed us to dig deeper and build capacity within our collaborative teams. We began to see data through a new set of eyes and recognized that in order to focus on results, we needed to get better at evaluating data and using it to drive instruction. Previously, data was something that we reviewed after a 6 weeks test but did not use to improve results. Through the PLC process, we learned that data collected from daily checks for understanding, formative assessments, and summative assessments were all key to informing our instruction, making key adjustments, and timely intervening. We were also gaining strength where Tier 1 instruction was concerned and focused on incorporating real-time interventions we call bucket items. This meant that when a teacher completed a check for understanding during class and discovered a student was experiencing difficulty, the student could reach for an intervention from the bucket to assist. Bucket items include everything from a graphic organizer or the question in a multiple choice format to a list of helpful vocabulary. The campus was also in need of a systematic process for intervention and enrichment which led to the implementation of Texan Time. Texan Time is a draft process in which teams collectively decide which students they will pull based on the need for intervention, enrichment, or a unit pre-teach. Teachers determine which role they will fulfill to meet the needs of the team’s students and group them. Groups can include those who did not master a specific readiness standard, LEP students who need to be pre-taught vocabulary for an upcoming unit, and sometimes a group is devoted to students who have a “will” issue, not necessarily a “skill” issue.

Year three allowed us to improve upon what we had already built including how to use data to pre-plan lessons, better align assessments and instruction, and involve students in the data process. They now learn what mastery looks like, how to identify their areas for growth, and how to monitor their progress. From tackling the bio TEKS to being an algebra master wizard, our students know where they are and how far they have to go. In addition to these pieces, we also developed a systematic lesson vetting process to ensure all four critical questions were answered for each unit and data was driving the instructional decisions. Our commitment to a guaranteed and viable curriculum became a collaborative process in which we work together to ensure it does not matter which teacher the student has.

And then COVID hit… Like schools across the nation, we are facing the incredible challenge of educating our students in a learning environment unlike any before and our established PLC process has been paramount in maintaining our focus on continuous improvement. Our successful transition to virtual learning, now a hybrid model, is a product of our collaborative efforts to maximize our use of technology, ensuring we answer the four critical questions, intervene in real time, and remain focused on results. Although we did not take a state assessment in 2020, data for unit tests and course mastery reflects a continuation of success.

As a Texan Family, we are committed to our mission of getting Texans college, career, and world ready by focusing on student learning, establishing a collaborative culture, and producing results. We invite you to review our data and see that we have much to celebrate in college readiness, state assessments, and overall student growth. We know there is still much work to be done and remain steadfast in our commitment to our PLC journey in the spirit of Sam Rayburn excellence. 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

It should not matter who your teacher is at Sam Rayburn High School.  All students are given access to the same essential learning standards via our guaranteed and viable curriculum.   This truth is one of the most important ideals we collectively commit to and one that guides our curricular decisions.  Collaborative teams begin by establishing our readiness “need to know” standards and our supporting “nice to know” standards utilizing the state standards (TEKS) found in the district-designed scope and sequence.  All readiness standards meet the criteria of having endurance and leverage, and are considered essential for learning at the next level.  We also use this collaborative time to evaluate portions of the curriculum that are non-essential and can be eliminated to maximize the allotted time students have to master our guaranteed curriculum.

After identifying the readiness and supporting standards, our collaborative teams develop alignment documents which contain the following information:

  1. State, district, and campus specific data for the readiness standard including how often the standard has been assessed and how we performed as a campus on those assessments 

  2. Previous assessment questions for the readiness standard to determine how students are called upon to demonstrate their learning 

  3. Learning targets for the readiness standard to clarify what each student is expected to learn

  4. Proven instructional strategies that have resulted in student proficiency based on assessment data

We build 90 minutes of protected time into the master schedule for collaborative teams to answer the four essential questions which drive our daily work:

  1. What do our students need to know?

  2. How will we know if they’ve learned it?

  3. What will we do if they don’t understand it?

  4. What will we do when they do understand it? 

Prior to starting a unit, we utilize a backwards planning model to design a common summative assessment to be administered at the end of the unit and common formative assessments to measure progress throughout.  After each is given, teams meet to discuss progress on each assessment by student, by standard. We identify what is working well and which instructional strategies were the most effective in helping students demonstrate proficiency. Based on these data discussions, we plan in-class remediations for students who have yet to demonstrate mastery and enrichment for those who are ready for extended learning opportunities. Additionally, teacher teams identify students for our embedded Texan Time, a small-group support program to intervene and/or enrich based on student need. Students also take an active role in monitoring their progress by completing assessment self-reflections, tracking their data by standard, and celebrating mastery.  

Utilizing this continual cycle of identifying our readiness standards, backward planning for effective instruction, and disaggregating data to ensure students are achieving mastery is essential to student success campus-wide. Student growth and success is reflected in state assessment and college readiness data, the number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) certifications earned, and a positive change in campus culture. 



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

Timely intervention is critical when a student is not learning and we recognize that the intervention process must be systematic across the campus. As a result, we reflect on the essential question, “What will we do if they don’t understand it?” as part of our backwards planning model to anticipate what students may not understand ahead of time and build real-time interventions into our lesson plans we can utilize in class to address the need before the class period concludes. We refer to these interventions as bucket items. For example, if a student is to show mastery of a concept via a short answer response and is struggling with sentence structure, he/she can reach for a bucket item and demonstrate learning with a multiple choice question and supporting evidence from the text. Bucket items can include anything from a sentence starter to a short video clip and allow students to help themselves progress in their learning.

In addition, we built Texan Time, a Tier 2 Planned Intervention and Enrichment (PIE) period which lasts for 35 minutes (M-Th), into the daily schedule. Texan Time is limited to 15 students per teacher and is centered around direct instruction and small groups. Teams meet twice a week for 45 minutes to vet instructional plans and to analyze our student data by standard. This analysis is used to determine which students the teachers will draft for Texan Time for both remediation of readiness standards and enrichment of supporting standards with core teachers drafting first. Teams determine intervention group needs based on common formative assessment data and select students who need these specific interventions. Intervention groups can also have a particular focus such as pre-teaching academic vocabulary to English learners ahead of an upcoming unit or how to utilize a specific supplemental aid or strategy.  Students are reassessed at the end of the intervention session to determine mastery for the specific TEKS. Students can request to be drafted for topics of interest such as SAT/ACT prep, Khan Academy, library time, or college application assistance, unless they are drafted by a teacher for readiness standards intervention. Another factor considered for Texan Time draft is students who do not necessarily lack skill, but rather the will to demonstrate learning due to non-academic circumstances. For this reason, we also pre-select students for small group sessions led by counselors. These sessions focus on identifying roadblocks to learning by equipping students with the knowledge and strategies needed to address their social and emotional needs. Our draft process is conducted weekly with each core subject drafting first every four weeks using our website. Once a student is selected for a group, their name is no longer visible for selection. When electives conclude the drafting process, students check their dashboard online for their Texan Time locations. 

We also have Tier 3 courses for incoming ninth grade students who show a need for more support with reading, writing, or math skills. Our Tier 3 reading course is designed for students who are reading at least three years below grade level. Our intermediate feeder schools share student intervention data with us to help us determine student placement in this course. The course focuses on the fundamentals of reading such as decoding, fluency, and vocabulary.  Students also learn strategies to help them comprehend increasingly more complex texts.  For math, we identify students who scored below grade level on state assessments and assign them a support class as part of their daily schedule. The purpose of this course is to close the students’ learning gaps, strengthen their 9th grade Algebra I skills, and increase their confidence for success in future math courses. 

Another intervention that is separate from Texan Time and our Tier 3 courses is a system called Tackling the TEKS. In this in-class intervention, students are provided with ongoing opportunities to show mastery of their content. The students use the LMS platform to watch instructional videos and practice TEKS that have already been taught and assessed in the course. This system allows students to track their own mastery and continually work toward mastery on TEKS they struggle with. We have seen an increase in student motivation and achievement using this model. Students know that just because they haven't learned it yet doesn't mean they can’t learn it. There is always an opportunity to learn something you initially struggled with. 



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

The Sam Rayburn High School faculty was introduced to the PLC process in 2014. Campus leaders attended PLC conferences and agreed with all things PLC, but we lacked campus-wide commitment. We started by putting some important practices in place such as common planning periods for content teams and embedded PIE time, but we were unable to successfully implement the PLC process as a staff. 

In order to truly have learning for all, we had to hit the reset button and start with a guiding coalition. We formed a data picture of our school and re-established our mission, vision, and collective commitments for our campus in the spirit of clarifying our purpose. We worked to build consensus with teacher leaders answering questions and helping us move forward. 

We also recognized the critical need for professional development regarding the PLC process. As a result, we work to ensure teachers receive extensive training to aid them with practices related to implementation. Each year teachers attend the PLC conference as well as the RTI at Work conference alongside administrators to ensure fidelity to the process. Leaders have also attended the Solution Tree Grading conference in preparation for a campus focus on standards based grading. We know that ongoing professional development is a foundational piece to our continuous improvement. 

As collaborative teams, we meet weekly to vet lesson plans, ensure alignment to standards, and account for the four essential PLC questions. Teams review data from common assessments using a template and create remediation materials for both in class and Texan Time interventions. We have learned that celebrating the achievement of our goals fuels our progress and encourages us to achieve more despite the difficulties we encounter. Every team member is collectively committed to our PLC journey which means everyone has a hand in ensuring learning for all.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Please see hs-eoe-data-srhs attachment

2019: SRHS earned five Distinction Designations from the Texas Education Agency - ELA/ Reading, Mathematics, Science, Comparative Academic Growth, and Postsecondary Readiness

2019: Ranked 3rd in Comparative Academic Growth out of 40 comparable high schools in Texas

2019: Touchdown Club of Houston Sportsmanship Award Finalist

2019-20: District High School New Teacher of the Year - Jacqueline Ordaz

2018-20: Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Art Grand Champion for 3 consecutive years (never done before by a single school or district) and hold the record for the highest selling art piece which sold for $240,000.

2018-19: Increased local Career and Technical Education (CTE) certifications earned by SRHS students to 113 from 36, state CTE certifications to 21 from 1, and federal CTE certifications to 253 from 111 compared to ‘17-’18.

2018-19: District High School New Teacher of the Year - Josh Prater

2018 HEB Excellence in Education Secondary Principal State Finalist - Vanessa Reyes

2015-20: 15 National Gold Medals for the Scholastic National Art Competition, earning them trips to NYC and recognition at Carnegie Hall 

2015-16: Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Art Grand Champion

2015-16: District High School New Teacher of the Year - Joseph Duda

2015:  SRHS student was awarded a National Gold Medal for her Art Portfolio, 1 of only 8 students chosen from across the United States. She was awarded $10,000 for her portfolio from Scholastic Art & Writing, and an additional $10,000 scholarship from The University of Texas.

2015-present:  SRHS Junior ROTC leadership teams advanced every year to the National JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl competition (JLAB) in Washington, D.C., placing 3rd in ‘17-’18.