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Locust Lane Elementary School

Grade Level
Elementary School

When Laura Schlichting became principal of Locust Lane Elementary School in 2016, the school was working hard to provide interventions for learners requiring more support. While important, Laura recognized a broader need. “We need EVERY child to make significant progress,” she said. This vision of providing teaching to meet all learners’ needs required change–both adaptive and technical–on the part of staff.

Flexibly responding to student need

Previously, Locust Lane made decisions about student target time in twelve-week cycles and relied heavily on the data gathered by the district, which was only shared three times a year. Now, the team began using their professional learning communities (PLCs) to review data more regularly. In addition to the data from the district, they include data from other frequent assessments. This allows staff to more flexibly respond to students’ needs. Additionally, they recommitted to using the School-wide Implementation Review (SIR) and used the data gathered from this self assessment to verify the efficacy of the services they provide.

“Collaboration has been a huge focus for us,” Schlichting said. In fact, the staff share a professional practice goal in the Educator Effectiveness system for all teachers around collaboration and the effective use of data.

Reimagining roles

Another part of Locust Lane’s approach was reimagining the role of their literacy coach position to emphasize building staff knowledge. Coach Cindy Arntzen focuses on providing support for teachers to grow their skills and abilities and improve their practice. Arntzen regularly meets with PLC teams for each grade level to talk through data. She also works with teachers individually, helping them look at different ways to approach what they’re doing in the classroom.

Gradually, the changed perceptions began to lead to increased student achievement, an outcome which delighted students and staff alike. The staff staged a pep rally to share the school’s increasing report card scores with the learners to acknowledge their work and validate their success. Schlichting emphasizes that improvement efforts are ongoing. “We’re not there yet–we’re on the journey. We continue to reflect on our practice.”

Locust Lane’s coach sums up their goal succinctly: “We adjust our teaching in order to provide for the needs of all of our kids, starting at the universal level,” Arntzen said. “I have been really happy to see our staff continuing to revisit that vision and keeping that in mind as they’re looking at the choices they make,” she added