Prairie Elementary School

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

The PLC journey began over a decade ago in all of the District 96 schools. District leadership began researching and learning about the components of effective practices and components of systems operating as a professional learning community. The district worked on developing a common mission, vision, values and goals to guide our work. A focus on the four critical questions led us to understand how important a guaranteed and viable curriculum was needed. District content teams worked to develop the common set of targets for each subject area in every grade. From these targets we understood the need to write appropriate assessments (formative and summative) to measure the attainment of the identified targets. From this data, we were more prepared to identify students who needed extra support and those that needed opportunities for extension and/or acceleration. Over the years, we have continued to revise the expected targets as we have learned more, often adding rigor and higher expectations for our students. This revision has included the addition of leveled targets and the implementation of a standards based reporting system to provide specific, timely and accurate feedback to students and parents. The district also modified their calendar to include early releases on a regular basis for time for district content area teams and/or grade levels to meet together for consistency between and collaboration among all staff members.

Prairie School created collaborative teams at each grade level or content team. The principal and school team developed a master schedule that provides common planning time for these teams to meet. These teams developed norms for working together productively. An agenda is developed for each team meeting time and is shared with all team members. The principal regularly attends the grade level team meetings to provide support and encouragement. These teams review the upcoming targets, pacing guides and scoring rubrics. They develop common formative assessments to assess the unique needs of their students. These teams meet regularly to review data (pre-test, common formative assessments, and end of unit assessments) to design effective differentiated instruction. More recently, the district has provided staff members serving in a coaching role to provide support to teachers in the area of literacy, math, technology, language development, and informational literacy. These coaches provide job-embedded professional development to individual teachers and teams.

To support new teachers in our system, the district provides five days of new teacher training prior to the start of school each August. During these days, new staff are provided an overview of the District 96 Professional Learning Communities work. The district has a two year mentor program in order to continue to develop the capacity of the new staff.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The second critical question for our work as a PLC says "How will you know if students have learned what you expect them to?" In District 96, we work hard at developing appropriate target-aligned assessments. These include formative and summative assessments that are used for different purposes. Formative assessments are used to determine a student's current level of understanding and knowledge of the targets. These formative assessments may include the use of observational checklists, exit slips, target aligned quizzes, individual conferences with students, or other means to gather student data. Feedback is provided to students to help them know where they are in their learning progression and what they need to do in order to show growth. Teachers use data from these assessments to guide their instruction through differentiation, identify small groups of students in their classroom who may benefit from additional instruction or those that are ready for enrichment. Grade level teams develop common formative assessments based on the needs of their students. These needs may be different at other schools based on the unique characteristics of students. The results of these assessments are reviewed by the entire grade level to make decisions about pacing, mix-up opportunities and to share instructional ideas to support all students.

We use a standards-based reporting system to provide feedback to students and parents about progress. Students understand that prior to instruction it may be that a student is not yet showing proficiency. With instruction, students see their growth. We have also developed above-level targets for students to work on after showing proficiency or mastery of the grade level expected targets. Students work hard to move towards these extension opportunities.

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

Collaboration is key to creating systems of intervention. In District 96, our system of intervention begins with the robust assessment system based on our identified targets for each grade level course in addition to nationally normed universal screeners.  For example, we use Northwest Evaluation Assessment Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for all students in grades 1-5 three times a year for math and literacy.  This data is used for consideration for additional time and support. All students are also assessed using Aimsweb CBMs to triangulate additional data.  Prairie School has a Problem Solving Team made up of specialists whose purpose is to develop plans for student support for students who require additional instructional time and strategies.  This Problem Solving Team, including the classroom teacher, reviews progress monitoring data on a regular basis to match support to student needs.

In addition to the interventions provided through RtI as outlined above, classroom teachers provide Tier 1 interventions based upon local assessments including common formative assessments and district benchmark assessments offered at the end of instructional units.  Students are targeted individually or in small groups to ensure they achieve mastery of grade level targets.  In addition, intervention time is also used to extend the thinking of students that have already mastered grade level targets.    

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

Building high performing teams is essential throughout our professional learning community, to ensure students are reaching their maximum potential. Each grade level and specialist team has an identified team leader that works closely with the Principal. These leaders provide an additional layer of support to all teachers in working towards the district and school goals. All team leaders engage in professional development around facilitation skills. The Leadership Team meets weekly with the Principal, where they work collaboratively around district and school goals, identifying needed supports and developing targeted plans to reach the goals. These weekly meetings also serve as a place to celebrate successes and problem solve across grade levels.

Prairie School embraces coaching practices.  Our Extended Learning Support Team (ELST) consists of four coaches specializing in Mathematics, Literacy, Informational Literacy and Technology.  The ELST coaches work to support teachers in their advancement of instructional practices.

ELST coaches meet weekly with teams and as needed with individual teachers to support learning for our students. This includes review of student data; learning around targets; instructional strategies and techniques; and collaborative planning for instruction, intervention and enrichment. Our coaching model provides teams and teachers with opportunities for modeling, co-teaching and observation and collaboration around best practices. Coaches participate in extensive training and development, and also meet weekly with the Principal. In addition to whole team meetings with the Principal, individual Team Leaders and Coaches meet bi-monthly with the Principal to conduct leadership conversations specific to individual roles.

In Spring 2016, teaching teams began learning walks at Prairie School led by our Technology Coach, which hone in on a focus question that the grade level teachers create during the pre-learning walk meeting.  The learning walk focuses on students' learning not the teaching.  Examples of focus questions are: "What is the level of student engagement?  How are students utilizing technology within our one-to-one iPad program?  At what level are students able to conduct conversations with each other?  Approximately five classrooms are visited during a learning walk, which last about seven minutes each.  After visiting classrooms, the learning walk team debriefs with a focus on student learning within the framework of the focus question.  The learning walk team members apply new knowledge from their classroom visits to enhance their own classroom and instructional practices. 

Our Problem Solving Team includes the Principal, School Psychologist, Reading and Math Specialists, School Social Worker, Special Education Teachers, ELL Specialist, Occupational Therapist, and Speech & Language Pathologist. This team meets weekly to regularly review achievement data for students qualifying for Tier 2 and 3 interventions, as well as for those students already eligible for special education. Review of this data guides further decisions and planning for students to close instructional gaps. The Problem Solving Team also provides Tier 1 support to teachers through their grade level liaison roles. Grade level liaisons work with teachers and the Problem Solving Team to recommend strategies to support student learning needs and align specific data collection tools to monitor progress.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

The state of Illinois requires schools to participate in the yearly state assessment for students in grades 3-8 for elementary districts. Until the 2014-15 school year, this state assessment was the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. This assessment included math and reading tests for all grades and additional science tests for students in grades 4 and 7. Illinois became a PARCC state (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) and implemented this test for the first time during the 2014-15 school year. In order to prepare parents and teachers for the more rigorous expectations for the PARCC, Illinois changed the proficiency levels on the ISAT assessments. You will notice a drop in scores across the entire state beginning in the 2012-13 school year. It is not appropriate to compare data before and after this change. 

Data from the first PARCC administration was made available to schools/districts in late 2015. Decisions to modify the PARCC administration and test structures were implemented for the 2016 administration.  For example, the testing time was reduced for students by approximately 90 minutes overall (60 minutes in mathematics and 30 minutes in English Language Arts).  Also, the testing sessions were reduced from two per year to one per year, which simplified the administration of the test and reduced the number of testing units for students. While the tests were similar, it is difficult to make comparisons from 2015-2016.  The data set included in the attachment provides data through the 2019 administration of the IAR (formerly PARCC) state assessment.  Illinois has indicated that the test results are comparable with the change to IAR as it is the same assessment with one less testing session.  


2017 U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School

AHPERD Physical Education Blue Ribbon

ISBE Academic Excellence

#40 in Chicago Sun Times Top 50 Chicagoland Schools