Kingston Elementary School
- Number of Students: 501
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 79.9%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 16.1%
- Percent of Special Education: 11.7%
- White: 50.4%
- Black: 21.5%
- Hispanic: 20.8%
- Asian: 1.5%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 5.8%
- Other: 0%
Kingston Elementary School (KES), one of twelve Bartow County elementary schools,is located in Kingston, Georgia. Our school serves approximately 500 students from Pre-K to 5th grade. Kingston’s Professional Learning Community (PLC) journey began with the understanding that our students have diverse needs, which led us to re-evaluate our teaching practices and focus on the “right work.” Kingston Elementary teachers have always demonstrated a genuine love and care for their students, but we had a key piece missing. What was missing, our staff discovered, was the PLC process.
Our PLC journey began in June of 2018 when system principals received a copy of the book Learning by Doing (DuFour et al., 2016). Principals, Central Office staff, and select leaders from each school attended the Culture Keeper Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This spurred the design of the Bartow County PLC playbook at the district level. At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, we created our Guiding Coalition. Through our school’s Guiding Coalition, ourMission and Vision statement and, Collective Commitments were created and shared with the entire staff, ensuring that all teachers and staff agreed to adhere to these standards. These commitments have increased teachers’ passion for learning for all. During this early stage of PLC implementation, we focused specifically on providing staff professional development to build foundational knowledge of the PLC process and promote teacher buy-in. We began the implementation process by focusing on the three big ideas: a focus on learning, a focus on collaboration, and a focus on results.
During the 2018-2019 school year, we began developing collaborative teams where teachers created team norms and worked on deconstructing standards through the R.E.A.L. (Readiness, Endurance, Assessment, and Leverage) template. This process was led by our school’s Instructional Lead Teacher (ILT). Through this process, we focused on the development of a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum. Due to our transient population of students, we realized early on how impactful the PLC process would be on our students’ learning experiences in our school.
In 2019-2020, our school continued to focus on the development of a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Our leadership team created a school-wide collaboration schedule which provided teachers two mornings to meet with their PLC teams and two mornings for office hours to work with students. We recognized that it was important to ensure the singletons in our building were included and able to collaborate with the grade levels they served. As a school, we began a discussion about the Four Guiding Questions. We focused on the first two questions: What do students need to know and be able to do? and How will we know when students have learned it? During the school year, we collectively focused on strengthening Tier 1 instruction. Our Guiding Coalition completed a book study on Design in 5 by Nicole Dimich Vagle. Using the knowledge from this book study, our collaborative teams began the process of creating unit plans, common assessments (CSAs and CFAs), and rubrics for each essential standard. Teachers received professional development from our Instructional Lead Teacher on creating SMART goals, creating and using rubrics, and assessment creation. Teachers began the process of analyzing student data to determine progress. We knew that analyzing student data and using it effectively needed to be a focus for the next school year along with utilizing our Tier 2 and Tier 3 time schoolwide. Towards the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we had to realign our focus on distance learning and working through the teaching-assessing cycle virtually. Kingston Elementary welcomed a new principal towards the end of the school year, and we continued the right work on sustaining the PLC process with our new leadership.
During the 2020-2021 school year, we began our year with the implementation of a distance learning program as we were still working through a pandemic. We continued to have discussions on Design in 5 and implementing best practices to develop more rigorous and cohesive assessments. Through these discussions, collaborative teams began working on ladders of complexity for each essential standard. As a school, we focused on questions three and four: What will we do when students haven’t learned it? and What will we do when students already know it? We also worked on clearly defining Tier 2 and Tier 3 expectations as it was challenging to deploy fully due to safety protocols. With the addition of our Learning Support Specialist (LSS), we were able to become more student-centered with our data discussions in collaborative team meetings. The LSS also leads our SIT team, where specialized staff members can identify specific strategies for individual learning needs.These needs can be identified as academic or social/emotional and identifying the need aids in determining Tier 2 or Tier 3 placement for students based on data. We also worked towards streamlining our scheduling process to ensure all students received strong Tier 1 prevention for the upcoming school year. During the summer before the next school year, members of our Guiding Coalition attended a workshop to address our Guiding Coalition’s strengths and weaknesses and developing an action plan to address our needs.
During the summer before the next school year, members of our Guiding Coalition attended an Achieve Institute where we focused on practices addressing student investment, instructional agility, and feedback in action. At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, our school leadership team felt the need for a rebranding of our school’s mission and vision statement as well as collective commitments to reflect our progress in the PLC process. Our Guiding Coalition worked collaboratively to recreate a new focus on PLCs and our collective mission as a school. We also redefined our team norms to ensure they were more student-centered with a focus on learning. During pre-planning, we discussed A-Teams and what makes a 1-5-10 team as we had many new staff members who needed to be familiarized with the PLC process at Kingston Elementary. The discussion of standards-based grading began this school year. Our fourth-grade team took the initiative to pilot standards-based grading (alongside their current practices) for our school which gave them the opportunity to share the best practices with the rest of our collaborative teams. After discussing grading practices within collaborative teams, we recognized the importance of clear communication on student progress toward proficiency on essential standards and clearly defining expectations for summer intervention attendance. Each collaborative team developed an informational sheet for parents identifying the essential standards, how their student was progressing, and what proficiency on essential standards would look like. With the removal of the distance learning program for elementary students and more relaxed safety protocols, we were able to fully focus on deployment during Tier 2 instructional time. At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, we introduced a Reading Specialist who works specifically with students and staff on improving reading skills and instructional practices.
By the middle of the 2021-2022 school year, our school’s Guiding Coalition celebrated that through our PLC practices, we had developed and continued to sustain a strong, collaborative culture where the focus is on student learning. Our Guiding Coalition worked collaboratively to highlight our practices at KES and to apply to become a model PLC school. Moving forward, we are continuing to focus on deployment and creating meaningful, rigorous activities that address the learning needs of all students—whether through remediation or extension. We are committed to refining the PLC process and continuing to foster a culture of collaboration and learning for all.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Kingston Elementary School has established Professional Learning Communities (PLC)that dedicate two days per week for collaborative teams to engage in best practices to increase student achievement. Each team establishes a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum by doing the “right work” as a result of maintaining a focus on the Four Guiding Questions listed below:
What do students need to know and be able to do?
How will we know when students have learned it?
What will we do when students haven’t learned it?
What will we do when students already know it?
Four years ago, teams began the process of establishing a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum by determining what students need to know and be able to do. First, teams deconstructed all standards and identified essential standards by using the R.E.A.L.template to identify standards that met the criteria of readiness, endurance, assessment, and leverage. To ensure consistency of instruction across grade levels, teams participated in vertical alignment to ensure all essential standards aligned with the next grade level. Next, supporting standards were identified and learning targets were developed for both essential and supporting standards. Finally, Progression Ladders were created by arranging learning targets based on level of complexity. To increase student engagement, students tracked their proficiency using Progression Ladders and Success Criteria. Progression Ladders provide students clarity on proficiency expectations. As stated in Visible Learning (Hatti, 2009), Success Criteria has an effect size of .88 which is more than two years’ growth.
During the 2021-2022 school year, our district organized an Essential Standards Workshop where representatives from collaborative teams around the district came together to review their list of essential standards. The standards from each school were reviewed using the R.E.A.L. template and discussions led to the development of a district-wide list of essential standards. These essential standards are a minimum requirement for each collaborative team to ensure consistency around the district and foster collaboration between different schools.
To measure student success, teams created Common Summative Assessments (CSAs) based on the process outlined in Design in Five (Vagle, N.C., & Reeves, F.B.D. 2014). Next, Common Formative Assessments (CFAs) were created to assess progress based on learning targets for each essential standard. Teams used the backward design to develop essential unit plans that mapped out instruction on learning targets along with CFA and CSA administration dates. Data from CSAs was analyzed, and teams continued the Teaching Assessing Cycle. The teachers responded to students’ needs by providing continued instruction delivered by team members that implemented instructional strategies that yielded higher achievement. Teams repeated the Teaching Assessing Cycle for each essential standard and tracked progress on SMART goals. In addition to measuring student learning with CFAs and CSAs, teams used a variety of on-going assessments to monitor growth and measure academic success on foundational skills that facilitate student success on essential standards. Ongoing assessments include, but are not limited to: MAP Growth Assessment, Acadience Reading, Growth Measure, guided reading benchmarking, math fact fluency probes, Phonemic Awareness Screening Test (PAST), progress monitoring IEP goals, and ACCESS testing. Milestone data is disaggregated annually to identify academic weaknesses and trends to produce the School Improvement Plan for the upcoming year.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Response to Intervention was previously viewed as the road to the exceptional education department for students in the Bartow County School System. The System Guiding Coalition presented research and resources for the new RTI process which was incorporated into the system playbook. The system continued to share further resources and professional learning during the school year, and the first steps were implemented during this time.
The next year, the Bartow County School System created the Learning Support Specialist (LSS) position at each school. The LSS would specifically focus on questions three and four of the PLC process. The LSS would monitor Tier 2 and Tier 3 data and help plan for interventions or extensions for students during Tier 2 instructional time. During this time, the School’s Guiding Coalition established a schoolwide schedule to incorporate Tier 2 and Tier 3 instructional times, so that these tiers were valued and protected. The team also developed, and regularly update, an inverted pyramid of interventions. The inverted pyramid of interventions lets teachers know which research-based strategies and interventions are available in the building and who is responsible for them. This tool helps the LSS illustrate how the RTI process now points to the individual student as opposed to exceptional education. Additionally, the school has a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) in place to support students’ academic, social, and emotional behaviors. All students receive Tier 1 academic, social, and emotional behavior lessons throughout the school year. Teachers rely on the S.O.A.R. matrix to reinforce positive behaviors.
Using grade-level essential standards, which are broken down into learning targets for the students, collaborative teams write Common Summative Assessments (CSA) and develop unit plans including Common Formative Assessments (CFA). The students then work through the Teaching Assessing Cycle. Throughout this cycle, the teachers administer CFAs and provide Tier 1 prevention in class using the results from the assessments. The teams then administer the Common Summative Assessment (CSA) and provide Tier 2 interventions to ensure proficiency and above for all students. During the designated intervention time, students who are not proficient receive interventions, and those who are proficient and above are provided with extension activities—often from staff other than their teacher.
Students who continue to be two years below grade level and/or do not meet proficiency on the essential standards for the grade level can be referred to School Intervention Team (SIT). The SIT looks at the overall data for each of these students and decides the next steps for them and determines if they need support for skill (academic) or will (behavior/motivation). Some of these students become Tier 3 students, who receive more intensive support. Students who also need behavior support can be referred to the SIT. The SIT is led by the Learning Support Specialist (LSS). The LSS helps to create a plan for these students whether it be skill or will. Students who continue to be identified as Tier 2 throughout the year are required to attend summer intervention to receive more intensive instruction on the grade level essential standards.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Building collective teacher efficacy is a top priority at Kingston Elementary School and is evident through the work of our collaborative teams. Kingston’s success in building collective teacher efficacy began with the school’s establishment of its Guiding Coalition. Kingston’s Guiding Coalition takes pride in supporting all staff members to ensure each collaborative team is performing at a high level. Additionally, administration, the Instructional Lead teacher (ILT), and the Learning Support Specialist (LSS) aid in the guidance and support of collaborative teams. Each collaborative team follows the Four Guiding Questions to ensure student success:
What do students need to know and be able to do?
How will we know when students have learned it?
What will we do when students haven’t learned it?
What will we do when students already know it?
Collaborative teams have a dedicated time twice a week to meet. Following the Four Guiding Questions, teams develop essential unit plans based on their selected essential standards. SMART goals for each unit are developed and proficiency for each target is identified. Best practices and student data are discussed. Common Formative Assessments (CFA) and Common Summative Assessments (CSA) are also developed during this time. Student data is analyzed, and this data drives the planning of tiered instruction and student interventions or extensions.
Within the collaborative teams, a process has been implemented to monitor students during Tier 1 instruction. Students are assessed through the CSAs, then their data is recorded on the data protocol to show whether they are meeting or are not meeting the learning targets taught within the unit. This process helps the collaborative team track their progress to ensure students are meeting their SMART goal or if they need to improve or alter their units. This document also shows if students need intervention, continued instruction, or extensions. Deployment is a 30-minute time slot in which our collaborative teams and support staff are devoted to meeting the students’ needs based on the data tracking sheet. A vital component of each group is that they are fluid. Students can be reassessed and work toward proficiency of the standard at any point. When students are reassessed, the data tracking document is updated to monitor each student’s needs.
The PLC culture shift has been an ongoing and positive change at Kingston Elementary that is evident through effective collaboration and student growth and achievement. The focus is to improve student learning by ensuring all students learn at high levels. Teachers have truly realized this cannot be done in an isolated setting. The collaborative teams believe that no one person has the energy, expertise, and enthusiasm (DuFour, et. Al., 2016) to implement these best practices on their own. Effective collaboration is a priority for our teachers as we are still taking strides to perfect the PLC process within our building. Many Solution Tree associates have aided in this culture shift by providing professional development, a district-wide RTI audit, and ongoing support throughout our continued implementation of the PLC process. We would like to thank Nicole Dimich, Casandra Erkens, Emily Feltner, Angie Freese, Jacquie Heller, Janel Keating, Jasmine Kullar, Mike Mattos, Leann Nickelsen, Rich Smith, Mandy Stalets, and Eric Twadell.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
The data included shows a combination of achievement and growth data. This data provides a clear picture of the significant growth shown by our students as our collaborative teams work to perfect the PLC process and increase achievement scores.
The MAP District Summary shows an increase in Mean RIT scores from spring 2020-2021 to spring 2021-2022. The MAP Student Growth Summary shows significant growth in each grade level from fall to spring. The comparison from spring 2020-2021 to spring 2021-2022 shows we went from zero grade levels meeting projected growth in math and language usage, to all grade levels meeting or exceeding projected growth in math and language usage. This report also shows only one grade level meeting their projected growth in reading for the 2020-2021 school year and two grade levels meeting and all others notably closer to the projected growth for the 2021-2022 school year. Also included is ELL subgroup data from 2020-2021 MAP benchmark assessment. This shows our ELL students met and exceeded their projected growth from fall to winter in most grade levels for either math or reading.
Our current Tier 2 data shows that every grade level has increased the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency on essential standards in both reading and math after Tier 2 intervention. Our current Tier 3 data shows consistency with referrals to exceptional education and a decrease in the number of students receiving Tier 3 remediation. These can both be attributed to our collaborative teams identifying specific student needs for skill and will and working to meet those needs through the PLC process.
Milestones data is not included for the 2019-2020 school year due to the pandemic. Although our Milestones scores dipped after the pandemic, the MAP Projected Proficiency shows scores this year are predicted to be higher.
Bartow County STEM Accreditation (Spring2022)
5 Star Climate Star Rating (2019)
Young Georgia Author Winners
Bartow County Education Foundation Teacher Grant Winners
Lego Robotics Team
Exception Education 4C’s Teacher Award Recognition (Presented to staff members who exhibit one or more of the 4C's: Collaboration, Consistency, Compassion, and Commitment)
4H Project Achievement Student Winner (2021) (Awarded to a 4H student who presented a project area of interest and research. Through the process, the student develops leadership, creativity, public speaking, record keeping, and independent thinking)
Ms. Dot’s Stars (Award presented to staff who are exceptional at fulfilling their responsibilities and continually do the “right work” as identified through the PLC process)