Many districts are already implementing Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, to some degree. There are a few features that are unique to PLCs including:
- the focus is on learning, not teaching;
- they emphasize a collaborative culture; and
- they use data to make decisions.
The CLI Model aligns closely with each of these features and specifically helps teachers work through the four guiding questions keeping their focus on learning.
“Our district has worked with CLI for many years now and without it, we wouldn’t have our high-quality, aligned curriculum and common assessments. As a PLC, we are able to produce evidence of how we address the four integral questions of a PLC through our CLI work. The structure and alignment that CLI has helped us achieve is also going to be valuable evidence as we approach eccreditation.”
-Amy Bell, Principal, WY
How does the CLI Model for School Improvement address the four guiding questions of PLCs?
What do kids need to know? In the first year of the CLI Model a locally-written, guaranteed and viable curriculum is created by a representative committee of an individual subject area. This Subject Area Committee (SAC) includes teachers at each of the grades levels and any elective courses offered at the high school levels. By allowing the teachers to create this curriculum locally, they not only act as content area specialists but understand the unique needs of their students within their district, and can articulate those needs into the curriculum. This curriculum includes the learning targets that answer the question of “what do kids need to know?”
How do you know they got it? The CLI Model embeds multiple opportunities to create valid assessments to answer this question. In year two when all content teachers are using and validating the curriculum, they are also trained on creating aligned, intentional instructional plans which we call Instructional Planning Resources (IPRs). This IPRs include not only teaching strategies but also formative assessments to include criteria for proficiency, or what is good enough. In year three, the SAC receives further training on writing valid, common assessments to provide yet another data point for PLCs to consider.
What do you do for kids who don’t get it? What do you do for kids who already know it, or get it right away? Incorporated into the IPR is the opportunity to identify remediation/intervention opportunities as well as enrichment opportunities. We encourage teachers to identify these prior to their instruction so that the need for re-teaching may be mitigated.
The products that teachers generate using the CLI Model allow them to focus on common targets, expectations, data, and use a common language in their collaborative teams. They are further able to discuss how to improve instructional practices to reach elevated levels of student success.