STERLING Stirling public schools may allow students to check out one hour early each week – part of a broader effort to allow groups of teachers to provide and elicit solutions about students’ immediate needs.
These groups, which are often teachers in the same class or academic discipline, are known as professional learning communities, or PLCs.
Since PLCs have been shown to improve teacher efficiency and provide clarity in instruction, management views them as a path to “maximizing our student’s growth”.
“We feel there is an urgent need for PLCs,” Matt Beardsley, director of Curriculum and Instruction, said during a presentation in May to the Board of Education.
The need dates back to fall 2018 when Washington, Lincoln and Chaland schools were designated “Target for Improvement,” according to a review by the Every Student Success Act.
But the effort has gained momentum in recent months, particularly with more sophisticated means of assessing students through assessments that determine when additional focus is needed in math and reading.
The Board will consider management’s recommendation to form PLCs and use that hour to collaborate and work on an ever-in-depth data set that reflects student performance in the classroom.
It is one of several matters the Board of Education will consider voting on during its regular meeting, which will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Sterling High School library.
The county went to an early class in April to test the different ways in which PLCs can be configured and examine their impact on employee and parent schedules, buses and after-school care.
In May, Beardsley returned to the board of directors and shared these findings.
There have been attempts in the pilot program to schedule PLCs during the school day. But these attempts to create “flexible time” revealed problems. At the very least, it requires staff to supervise the classroom during a teacher meeting. Non-teaching staff felt that these tasks exceeded their responsibilities and qualifications.
After the experimental process, Beardsley said option 1b appears to be the preferred approach. Specifically, students are dismissed an hour early once a week and this time is for PLC work.
Beardsley said activities at the legislature meeting were clarified. Teachers will review and share teaching best practices from the classroom. They will review the data for individual students, think about what you have to say, and make a plan with this evidence in mind. In any PLC meeting, it will be important to identify and address the students who have and have not achieved the expected learning gains.
“We have a responsibility to justify,” Beardsley said in response to a question from the board of directors about how PLCs are evaluated.
Also as part of the recommendation, the district will allocate three half-days according to the school’s improvement schedule.
During the May meeting, Superintendent Tad Everett said that once the board makes a decision, it and management will have to meet with parents and teachers to determine the best day. While early dismissal can cause inconveniences, the potential gains from having PLCs as a way to meet the needs of individual students within a given week outweighs that, he said.
“As I sit in this chair, we have one client,” he said, referring to the students. “Everyone else is a stakeholder.”
The Board will also vote on a revised recommendation that would establish a pilot program at Challand Middle School so that eighth grade students in good academic standing, with parental permission, can leave campus during the designated open counseling period.
Rock Falls High School
The Rock Falls High School Board of Education will convene a little earlier than usual, with an executive session at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday in Room 137.
The agenda lists the expected actions that need Board approval arising from the executive session.
Agree to the Teachers Collective Bargaining Agreement 2022-23; Approval of an increase in the salaries of the non-accredited employee; Approval of contracts for supervisor, manager and assistant manager; Approval of an intergovernmental agreement with the city for the Office of School Resources program and approval of the resignation of business teacher Alex Leaf.
The department will also provide an update on the work in progress on the buildings, grounds and summer school and a review of activities from the last school year.