Spanning across two campuses, the one high school district presently educates over 4,000 high school students from the communities of Brookfield, Burr Ridge, Countryside, Hodgkins, LaGrange, LaGrange Highlands, LaGrange Park, McCook, Western Springs, and Willow Springs.
During the 2009–2010 school year, the staff of Lyons Township High School established professional learning communities (PLCs) in an effort to ensure all students were learning more. Following the work of Rick and Rebecca DuFour, PLCs attempt to answer the questions:
- What should all students know and be able to do?
- How will we know when all students have learned?
- What will we do when a student hasn’t learned?
- What will we do when a student has learned or reached proficiency
However, when confronted with changing state standards and assessments, a deeply rooted system of course leveling, and a traditionally private teaching culture, collaboratively answering these questions proved to be problematic for LTHS’s PLCs. The four PLC questions did not provide an efficient protocol or structure for scaling up collaborative inquiry across LTHS.
To effectively shift the conversation from teaching to learning, we needed to:
• identify that with which all students must demonstrate proficiency, prior to completing a particular course (regardless of the level of the course);
• establish common formative assessments as opposed to summative assessments;
• conduct meaningful and focused conversations around student performance during the units of instruction;
• conclude PLC meetings with an instructional action plan to implement prior to the next team meeting; and
• facilitate structured follow-up conversations to determine where students were performing after the instructional action plans were implemented.
During the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year the eight Model Impact Teams that previously worked with the consultant, administered a common pre, midterm, and post district assessment. After the pre-assessment was administered, each Model Impact Team sorted student
work into various quality levels (as identified by a rubric). The teams then met to apply the Evidence-Analysis-Action Protocol. After examining the evidence and articulating potential reasons for student performance, each team selected high leverage instructional practices to address the gaps present in the evidence.
All teams repeated the Evidence-Analysis-Action Protocol after administering a midpoint assessment. Again, teams collaborated to determine instructional practices that would address the needs of students performing in each quality level. Finally, a post-assessment was administered prior to the conclusion of the semester.
To download the full case study, click here.