Lonedell School will find out in January if it will be honored as a state exemplary Professional Learning Community School after it received a nomination from the South Central Regional Professional Development Center.
Superintendent Jen Ulrich told the R-XIV board of education during its September meeting about the nomination, but had few details.
“I am proud of the work we do in our district, and whether we are recognized with an award or not, I am proud of what we have accomplished,” Ulrich told The Missourian. “We are a staff focused on student learning and ensuring success for our students. In the end, student success is the real reward.”
Ulrich said the nomination was earned, at least in part, because “we were proficient in all areas during our site review.”
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the state’s PLC project, which is a state-sponsored initiative for school-improvement, began during the 2003-04 school year and evolved from the Missouri Accelerated Schools Project, which had served as a school reform project for many years.
“Professional learning communities see student learning, not teaching, as their mission,” the DESE website states. “The policies, instruction, curriculum, programs, professional development and other functions of the school all support student learning.”
Information states that in maintaining a constant focus on learning, four questions become paramount:
•What should students know and be able to do?
•How will the school determine that students have learned the essential knowledge and skills?
•How will the school respond when students do not learn?
•How will the school respond when they already know it?
“The state PLC school-improvement model focuses on increasing student achievement by building the capacity of school personnel to create and sustain the conditions that promote high levels of student and adult learning,” DESE states.
A PLC school, therefore, works toward several key components of that learning, including the daily work being driven by a common purpose, shared vision and collective commitments.
A school’s staff accepts responsibility for that student learning, and progress is monitored on a timely basis using common core curriculum and common assessments aligned with state standards. In addition, the school structure supports student learning and provides additional time and support for students who initially do not achieve intended outcomes.
There is job-embedded professional development, and staff members work corroboratively in processes that foster continuous improvement in all indicators of student achievement, DESE states.
The work utilizes the research and resources of many educational leaders with the fundamental guiding principles of these three ideas: Focus on learning, collaborative culture, and results orientation.
“Our mission is to support Missouri schools in building and sustaining professional learning communities where collaborative cultures result in high levels of learning for all and increased student achievement,” the PLC portion of DESE’s website states.
It also states that in actuality a PLC is a process and not a program.
“Professional learning communities is a process for schools to use in order to develop a comprehensive tiered level of support for students — all students,” the information states.