Chelsea Heights School (2021)

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

     The Chelsea Heights School located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, currently welcomes 344 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 with 73% of our students from low-income families. Within this neighborhood school, there is one building administrator and twenty six teachers who are all committed towards the success and achievement of all students. This shared understanding and commitment from everyone is rooted in our “Collective Commitment”- more specifically, the question that  our staff always collectively asks, “How does what we are doing impact and improve student achievement and learning?” This question drives every action that each staff member utilizes to employ intentional and targeted instructional decisions.

     Through this lens, the staff at Chelsea Heights School embodies a Professional Learning Community (PLC) throughout the school year each and every day through our thoughts, words, and actions. In addition, our teachers in every grade level meet weekly during the instructional day during teachers’ grade-level planning time towards meeting the instructional needs of our students through data analysis, as well as to strengthen our professional growth by reflecting on how to improve our teaching practices to bolster student learning. Teachers refer to the scope and sequence of the grade-level curriculum with regards to the elements of the Short Term Cycle. These elements guide the teacher’s discussions of their respective grade level students with the understanding that they are addressing all students collectively, as these students are all ours, as is the case in a true Professional Learning Community. During the PLC timeframe, the staff aligns the Four Guiding Questions within the components of the Short Term Cycle; more specifically, Plan, Do, Study, and Act. Within these four components, colleagues identify the Essential Standards within the grade level and subject and unpack them collaboratively into a student-friendly version. Next, colleagues determine vocabulary necessary for student learning, along with identifying learning targets and creating learning objectives found within the Essential Standard.   

     Each team within our Professional Learning Community develops a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal for students to achieve at the end of the cycle.  Teachers then create common formative assessments collaboratively, and develop proficiency scales to determine student learning. Students are administered a preassessment, and data is analyzed by teachers collaboratively via student by student, target by target, to determine strengths and weaknesses. After the instructional content has been delivered, teachers then examine the results of weekly common formative assessments together in order to evaluate next steps for those students who did learn the objective, and for those students who did not. This collaboration to analyze student performance information propels teachers to take action to increase student learning.  Additionally, these strategic instructional actions are vital towards empowering all learners in a way that incorporates “fresh data”; or data that is recent in order for identified student needs to be addressed in a timely manner. Data is analyzed with an eye on a student’s proficiency in his/her respective grade level essential standards, and multiple opportunities for additional time and support is provided for those students who need intervention throughout the day (i.e. before school, after school, and select Saturdays). Furthermore, when teachers strategize how best to intervene, reference is given to standards progressions tables to pinpoint the particular grade level that a student is currently functioning in order to identify next steps instructionally so that there are no gaps in a student’s  learning path. This focus allows for additional opportunity for addressing student enrichment as well. 

     This commitment from all staff members was rooted in the knowledge that we must go through the process of Professional Learning Communities together, little by little, one step at a time, given the time and support necessary towards achieving this aim.  Under the instructional leadership of the building principal, who capacitated the School Leadership Team members throughout this process in the elements and value of Professional Learning Communities towards increasing student learning, the Leadership Team was able to learn side by side from one another, and communicate these understandings and knowledge with staff throughout all grade levels within the building over the course of five years. This took various forms; during dedicated Professional Development days earmarked for this purpose, as well as additional time given to teachers in small groups in order to delve into the concepts and the work necessary towards identifying Essential Standards, unpacking the standards, identifying learning targets, creating learning objectives, designing common formative assessments, and developing proficiency scales. This hard work and dedication by the staff was rooted in the value of increasing student learning, while also creating artifacts throughout grade levels with a focus on quality and authentic work.  All of these concerted, ongoing efforts have assisted our teachers with building a shared understanding and commitment, and fostering a positive school climate and culture which has led us on our journey to become a high quality, high functioning Professional Learning Community. 

     Here at Chelsea Heights, school-wide collaboration and involvement drives every decision towards academic achievement for all students. Annual school goals are determined by a thorough examination of multiple data points (both qualitative and quantitative), and communicated throughout the year to staff, parents, and students. Since all staff embraces and lives these school goals within their daily practices, there is a deep sense of pride and shared responsibility towards the efforts necessary for all of our children, no matter the grade level, to achieve these identified goals.   Successes are celebrated along the way throughout the year to applaud, encourage, and motivate staff, students, and parents towards continuous improvement.  

     The annual school-wide goals encompass not only English/Language Arts and Math content mastery, but also in the reduction of the chronic absenteeism rate for attendance as well. Research has proven a direct correlation between student academic success and student attendance, and highlighting this as a school goal only strengthens the opportunity for student learning to flourish. Every staff member collectively supports and addresses these school-wide goals, along with frequent monitoring via collaboratively analyzing data to determine growth and mastery. In addition, this monitoring allows for the opportunity to determine additional goals, as the work is never done. The staff here at Chelsea Heights does not discontinue efforts when progress and mastery is made; rather, when this occurs, this in fact motivates staff to double their efforts in order to increase the growth and mastery of all of our students to heightened levels.  

     In order to foster a culture rooted in continuous improvement, our teachers rely on collaboratively analyzed student performance information in a timely manner to evaluate the student’s learning paths, and identify the instructional implications necessary to increase student learning. Data is referenced constantly and especially during the dedicated team time on achievement data of common formative assessments from the usage of the student adaptive software program known as i-Ready. Teacher application of the Short Term Cycle has proven to be the cornerstone of rich, collegial conversations rooted in the joint efforts of grade-level colleagues to promote their own growth and to support one another to address student learning with regards to growth and mastery.   




1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

     The Chelsea Heights School has always strived to ensure that our curriculum has the viable equity to reach all of our students, regardless of their academic levels. This assurance guarantees that each one of our students receives a comprehensive, rigorous, and standards-based education across all grade levels. Our approach is inherent within our instruction and ensuing content areas. Our philosophy and pedagogy are achieved through the Professional Learning Community (PLC), where all students can thrive and reach their full potential.   

     At the Chelsea Heights School, teachers work in collaborative teams using the District Short-Term Cycle Template 2020-2021 to guide our discussions and curriculum design.  Each week, every team meets for a minimum of 40 minutes, and some teams meet for an additional 2-4 hours after school. Our ongoing template includes documentation regarding knowledge about district curriculum, state standards, common formative assessments, proficiency scales and learning progressions, interventions and enrichment activities.  Our teacher-led collaborative teams work together to have a transparent understanding of what they will teach and how to improve teaching and learning. Having common resources helps to move our teams forward and promote collaborative planning with student curriculum and instruction. This process helps ensure that learning activities and assessments are aligned to the standards, keeping expectations high for all students.

      Spearheading our initiative and curriculum has been the dissection of our essential standards. “Unpacking” grade-level standards, has given teachers a focused understanding of specific expectations, and a greater vision of preceding standards, securing that all students are moving forward on their own paths of proficiency. Deconstructing standards has allowed teachers to become more efficient, as we now have critical vocabulary and specific learning targets to focus on.  Learning targets are then translated to student-friendly versions of objectives, ultimately providing better communication with students and their expectations.  The Chelsea Heights School Standards Dissection ELA Grade 1 shows Grade 1 collaborative  team “unpacking” essential grade-level standards. Other standards-based markers of success that have been vital to instruction, have been common formative assessments and proficiency scales, as we strive to obtain student proficiency and achievement.  An example of the organization and construction of content into proficiency scales is shown in the Chelsea Heights School Proficiency Scales ELA Grade 1. In the Resource Section, the Grades First through Eighth Grade Essential Standards documents outlines the collaborative efforts of our teacher-led teams dedicated towards unpacking the Essential Standards in English/Language Arts. 

        Moreover, the consistency of working in our collaborative teams has given us the insight to refine and improve instruction within our short-term cycles. Weekly teacher-led collaboration has helped staff to hone and move active instruction, independent activities, and common formative assessments to their highest standards. Further, the discussion of student work and growth, and how to overcome many of the challenges that we face, is paramount in our discussions. That said, we are given the creative latitude to think and contemplate what’s best for our students. 

     The Professional Learning Community (PLC) process is complete with academic fidelity, strategic planning for our SMART goals, implementing differentiated instruction, addressing strengths and weaknesses using current and formative data, and reflecting on the process of brainstorming interventions and enrichment activities. Our team meetings have helped us continue to focus on monitoring teacher instruction and student learning, and ultimately increase student growth and academic achievement.  This process provides a consistent and viable curriculum and guarantees that all of our students have access to essential content and standards within instructional cycles. 

     Our school SMART Goals are based on i-Ready data for both Math and ELA. Students are assessed quarterly to measure typical growth. We use this data to drive intervention and develop the learning plan for each student, target by target. While this diagnostic data is useful, we recognize that it is not enough. Therefore, we simultaneously review fresh interim data to monitor student progress on weekly i-Ready lessons. This data pinpoints students’ strengths and knowledge gaps at the sub-skill level, and we collaboratively analyze it within our teacher-led collaborative teams to drive intervention and improve instruction.

     Collaborative teams have unpacked specific standards our district has deemed essential. Providing teachers with this deep understanding helps them to identify the evidence that reveals that students have mastered the content standards. In addition to the diagnostic assessments mentioned above, an i-Ready Standards Mastery Assessment is given to students to inform teachers which skills their students have and have not mastered so they can adjust instruction. 

     Quarterly benchmarks in ed-Connect are also given to assess student learning and provide state assessment practice. These assessments are aligned with Achieve the Core, and provide useful information on student performance by standard. The results are analyzed in a variety of ways:

  • ·         Standards Analysis

  • ·         Student Analysis

  • ·         Item Analysis

  • ·         Standards Mastery

  • ·         Trends 

     At the end of each school year, when state assessment data becomes available, we work collaboratively to analyze the data. Teacher-led collaborative teams analyze the results, as well as evidence statements and tables, to strategically create heterogeneous rosters for the next school year and inform curriculum and instruction to ensure continuous improvement. All of this data monitoring helps teachers to develop a variety of interventions, which will be explained in-depth in the next question.




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

     Our teacher-led collaborative teams are in constant collaboration to analyze fresh data weekly to inform instruction and drive a variety of interventions. As previously stated, weekly i-Ready performance data pinpoints students’ strengths and knowledge gaps at the sub-skill level. For example, the data may show that a student needs support in an identified area. Lessons and Tier 1 interventions are created to support the student during the regular school day, as well as during morning, after school, and Saturday School intervention. Our teacher-led collaborative teams also create common formative assessments that specifically address certain standards at the grade level.

     Quarterly benchmarks in ed-Connect are also given to assess student learning and provide state assessment practice. As previously stated, these assessments are aligned with Achieve the Core, and provide useful information on student performance by standard. While analyzing results, teacher-led collaborative teams working collaboratively may find a deficiency on standard RL.5, compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style. Again, such results help us to implement support toward continuous improvement on this standard during the regular school day, as well as during morning, after school, and Saturday School intervention. 

     While a large percentage of our low-income family students require additional time and support for learning, we realize that they still need to gain exposure to the grade level standards, even though the students may have a different learning path than the scope and sequence of the grade level. We also do not take for granted the needs of those students who achieve mastery at a typical rate, and provide enrichment accordingly. Examples of such enrichment may include providing students with independent or small group novel study on their reading level, or exposing advanced math students to more rigorous algebraic concepts. Teachers regularly confer with individual students to go over assessment results, which affords them the opportunity for students to self-reflect and set goals, instilling a sense of ownership of their learning.

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

     The Chelsea Heights Leadership Team collaboratively and consistently evaluates our educational programs and their impact on student achievement.  This is accomplished through a detailed analysis of student achievement based on diagnostic and state assessments as well as our school climate to assure that our learning environment is producing results that are aligned with our school goals.  Our leadership team also identifies gaps in performance or processes, and collaboratively plans for their improvement through the unpacking of the essential standards to pinpoint targeted areas that are crucial to student achievement. Finally, the leadership team facilitates professional development to unpack the essential standards in grade-level cohorts through coaching, observation, and reflection that are coherent, consistent and clearly connected to our school plan. 

      The team-led collaborative groups focus their efforts on improved student learning through weekly meetings where the focus is on the short-term cycle. It is during this time that our grade-level teams continually unpack the standards to create learning targets, objectives, and assessments (formative, summative, and comprehensive) based on the analysis of fresh data to collectively ensure team collaboration, and a unified understanding of how this material will support student achievement. It is also during this time that each team collectively  cross-analyzes academic growth performance by grade level and targets, and plan instructional strategies to address students’ needs with additional support and enrichment.

     Chronic absenteeism is a national issue that has a direct impact on student learning and achievement. Based on the New Jersey Performance report and research in the New Jersey communities, the New Jersey Department of Education selected chronic absenteeism as a measure of school quality and students success for the ESSA accountability plan. Our Chronic Absenteeism Team collectively implements proactive ideas and strategies to engage educators, students, family, and the community in an effort to improve student attendance. This is achieved through the daily analysis of the chronic absenteeism list, as well as a watch-list of students who are on the verge of being chronically absent. In the Resource section, the Chronic Absenteeism Agenda references the teacher-led collaborative team meetings regarding school-wide attendance and chronic absenteeism rates. 

     To continue to encourage parents and students to achieve perfect attendance, students are awarded with incentives for daily and monthly attendance such as banners, and pizza parties. This close collaboration with staff, students and parents has had an enormous impact on our attendance which has had a positive impact on improving student learning. Six out of the last seven years Chelsea Heights School has been lower than the state average for chronic absenteeism. With a current poverty rate of 73%, we have reduced our chronic absenteeism rate from a high of 10.4% to a low of 5.1%.  In the Resource section, the Chelsea Heights School Chronic Absenteeism Table highlights the success of our school-wide collaborative efforts revealing a significant decrease in the chronic absenteeism rate of our children.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

     The 2019-2020 school year achievement data was primarily culled from i-Ready results. I-Ready is a student-adaptive test in Reading and Math given four times per year to students in grades Kindergarten through Grade Eight. The representation of data is reflected on a percentage of students regarding three tiers: Tier 1: on grade level; Tier 2: one grade level below; and Tier 3: two or more grade levels below. Our school was in the process of completing Diagnostic #3 when the pandemic hit, causing us to abruptly end the school year with in-person instruction, along with incomplete testing administration.

The following represents the student achievement noted from the assessments administered:

i-Ready Reading Diagnostic Growth 2019-2020

(Baseline to Most Recent Assessment)

Grade Kindergarten

Tier 1: 68% (from 15%)

Tier 2: 32% (from 85%)

Grades 1-8

Tier 1: 51% (from 24%)

Tier 2: 27% (from 34%)

Tier 3: 22% (from 42%)


i-Ready Math Diagnostic Growth 2019-2020

(Baseline to Most Recent Assessment)


Tier 1: 46% (from 10%)

Tier 2: 51% (from 88%)

Tier 3: 2% (from 2%)

Grades 1-8

Tier 1: 46% (from 18%)

Tier 2: 40% (from 41%)

Tier 3: 14% (from 41%)

i-Ready school-wide results in both Reading and Math for 2019-2020 reveal a decrease in the Tier 3 population (students identified as two or more grade levels below), with a marked increase in both the Tier 1 (on grade level) and Tier 2 (one grade level behind) populations. This increase in both tiers reflects growth and mastery of reading and math skills across all grade levels.

i-Ready Reading Diagnostic Growth 2020-2021

(Baseline to Most Recent Assessment)

Grades K-8

Tier 1: 41% (from 20%)

Tier 2: 37% (from 47%)

Tier 3: 22% (from 33%)

i-Ready Math Diagnostic Growth 2020-2021

(Baseline to Most Recent Assessment)

Grades K-8

Tier 1: 46% (from 16%)

Tier 2: 41% (from 55%)

Tier 3: 13% (from 29%)

For the current 2020-2021 school year, Chelsea Heights School was the only school within the district of Atlantic City to meet the school-wide SMART goals in Reading and Math (please reference the June 2021 i-Ready Reading Diagnostic Growth District Comparison report and the June 2021 i-Ready Math Diagnostic Growth District Comparison report above).

Overall, 62% of our students met the Reading SMART goal, and 65% of our students met the Math SMART goal. The data revealed a marked increase with regards to the Tier 1 (on grade-level) population for both Reading and Math with a reduction in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 populations indicating growth and mastery two years in a row. Please reference the June 2021 Chelsea Heights Reading Diagnostic Growth report and the June 2021 Chelsea Heights Math Diagnostic Growth report above for further data analysis per grade level regarding growth and mastery. 



Please reference the Resources section to view the Awards 2004-2021 document for Chelsea Heights School.