El Mirage Elementary School achieved what we once thought was impossible for a Title One school, by honing in on the right work. We reflected on our work to refocus on the right practices. In doing so we received an A on our Arizona School Report card, became an A+ School of Excellence, received the distinction of Model School, and were recognized as top ten in the state for growth.
We focus on three essential practices: Changing School Culture with a System of Schoolwide Expectations; Using a Research-Based Curriculum with Fidelity; and Using Data Effectively to Focus on Growth. We aligned all systems to our school mission and vision, raised expectations, became transparent with our data, and created a school wide behavior system.
Tigers hold ourselves accountable to our district-approved curriculum for one reason: equity. All students must be exposed to the same standards and curriculum in order to grow. The administration team did more than 1,000 walk through observations with formal feedback last year. Teachers collaborate frequently in their professional learning community to plan lessons, write rigorous objectives, create assessments, and analyze data.
We emphasize the word “growth” everyday to serve every single student with an effective Multi-Tier-Support System. Teams closely monitor data to regroup our students into appropriate skill levels for the tier two programs.
Data is the focal point of all decisions. Every classroom updates a data bulletin board to celebrate success. Students track their progress and goals in data folders. Teachers keep data binders and bring them to Response to Intervention meetings to set goals and intervention plans.
At the heart of all these plans is leadership - this includes the administrative team and ALL staff. Tigers have an all-hands on deck approach to everything we do. We are all accountable for student learning and growth.
Stephanie Davis-Principal, El Mirage Elementary school (Dysart Unified District)
My name is Megan Brown and I am the very proud principal at Buckeye Elementary School in downtown Buckeye.
I entered the principalship in January 2022, after the school received a failing letter grade the previous October. My school community was determined to do better for our students.
Through the support of Project Momentum, we formed a Guiding Coalition to act as the model PLC and drive our school improvement efforts forward. This team dug into our comprehensive needs and determined specific instructional areas of focus for the year.
We implemented a Tier 1 literacy support plan that included a highly-targeted and structured phonics program to ensure all kinder through 4th grade students received instruction to boost their phonics skills. We recognized that ALL students need to receive rigorous at-grade-level instruction across all classrooms.
We knew that in order to completely transform our school, it would require teachers to collaborate, plan, analyze data and grow as learners themselves to ensure that all students were growing and achieving. Our school culture maintained a focus on celebrating all growth and, as a guiding coalition, we have exuded joy and passion for both student and teacher learning. This focus on celebrating all growth built a positive and productive school culture.
Teacher development and collaboration strategies were centered around the belief that an effective teacher yields to student achievement. Our teachers meet weekly as collaborative teams, focusing on deepening their knowledge of the content and analyzing student data to maintain a constant pulse on student learning. These collaborative team meetings act as embedded professional development and provide teachers with action plans based on student data that they can implement immediately.
We proudly moved our school out of the failing category and received a letter grade of a B, only 18 months after we began implementing our school improvement plan. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and are far from done, but my staff, students and community are committed to the work and fulfilling our vision of ALL students achieving at high levels.
Robert M. Bracker Elementary is a K-5 school in the Nogales Unified School District #1 located in Nogales, Arizona. Bracker serves approximately two hundred and seventy students and emphasizes educating the whole child.
We provide targeted, two-hour instruction for English Language Learners, providing whole-group integrated instruction as well as targeted intervention. The typical school day provides a diverse learning experience with specials, reading and math interventions, and individualized support. All students take music, computers, and library specials to enhance their academic skills. Bracker provides before and after-school tutoring as well as enrichment activities and clubs.
Our intervention program provides learning support for struggling readers, and our data-based teams work together to drive instruction identifying student strengths and areas for improvement.
Parents volunteer for multiple events, and their participation as stakeholders is encouraged and supported. Multiple parent engagement meetings are held throughout the year, including Open House, Parent Teacher Conferences, breakfast meetings, and training to help parents provide instructional support for their children.
At Robert M. Bracker, we use a data-focused approach to create individualized student support as well as designed professional development for faculty and staff to increase mastery of standards. Additionally, student leadership is a campus-wide focus, and students are encouraged to participate in student government activities through our Student Council (STUCO) where students develop leadership skills.
Robert M. Bracker is dedicated to improving student outcomes through a structured and student-centered educational approach designed around the framework established by the Nogales Unified School District #1. The Robert M. Bracker Elementary school team works collaboratively with our parents and the community we are dedicated to ensuring that our Bracker Dolphins always shine.
As the founder of the Leona Group schools, Dr. William Coats, once said, “Anyone can learn almost anything if it's relevant, and how do we make it relevant…through relationships.” He also said, “We know our students by name, by face, by family,” and that is absolutely a philosophy at Mission Heights Preparatory High School. What have we done to succeed? First and foremost, we know all of our students. By having strong, positive relationships with our students and families, we have created a climate and culture where students want to meet our high expectations and standards.
Secondly, as an AVID Site of Distinction, our teachers use engaging strategies to empower students to have agency and generate ownership of their college and career goals. In the last few years, we have made sure all of our staff members are trained in the AVID program, and this unified umbrella of education has helped create disciplined structure of consistent focused notes, tutorials, and use of writing and reading in all classrooms. Every student also has access to free college courses at Central Arizona College in the school and transportation to the CAVIT program that gives students even more opportunity for their futures. Over 75% of our students are enrolled in college and/or CAVIT before they graduate.
Finally, consistency is key. Students and families need consistent expectations, systems, policies and structure not only in the school as a whole but in each classroom. They need consistent discipline. They need consistent support. They need consistent, intentional and rigorous education. With little staff turnover on this campus, our students understand the expectations, and they feel part of something more. We often say that Mission Heights is not just a building students come to in order to get education, it is a family they become a part of. As soon as students walk through our doors, they become part of that family and the high expectations to show MOTIVATION, HEART and PURPOSE in all they do as they go out into the world.
Show Low High School is honored to receive this recognition for our top academic growth scores in the 2021-22 school year! This was obviously a challenging year for schools with the return from the pandemic, but the hard work and dedication of our staff to supporting the students using a few key initiatives is exactly what led to our significant rise in scores the year after.
In the 2020-21 school year, despite the impact of the pandemic, we implemented three key initiatives to improve academic performance:
1) Switch to Standards Based Grading
2) Mastery Friday Interventions
3) Intentional ACT Test Prep
We were in the middle of a 3-year transition away from traditional grading practices to standards-based grading practices for the sole purpose of changing our culture to a focus on learning and less about the grade they are earning. By redesigning our grading practices to a uniform system that provides an accurate reflection of student mastery, clear rubrics and expectations, and a variety of assessments/reassessments, we drastically improved the level of hope and motivation for learning in our students.
Furthermore, our district began a new calendar that dropped required school on Fridays and replaced it with what we call “Mastery Friday” opportunities for students who need reteach or enrichment based on teacher invite or student walk-ins. This immediately gave students and teachers opportunities for one-on-one intervention and support that was not present in years prior. Coupled with the teachers implementing specific ACT prep strategies and designing the test day to promote student success, and our students showed significant improvement on the state assessment!