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Bush Elementary recognized for raising student achievement

Bush Elementary recognized for raising student achievement

September 28th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

FILE: Amy Caswell hi-fives the line of bus riders goodbye as they leave Bush Elementary on the last day of school.

Photo by Dean Asher

Bush Elementary recently gained recognition for its success in raising student achievement.

In September, education strategy provider Solution Tree declared the Fulton elementary school a "Model Professional Learning Community at Work." Bartley Elementary received the same honor this summer.

"Kudos to the faculty and staff and administrators for pulling everyone together," Fulton Public Schools Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said.

Solution Tree defines PLCs as schools at which educators believe that to improve student learning, the adults who serve those students need ongoing education as well.

Schools must meet strict criteria to be recognized as Model PLCs, according to Solution Tree. They must submit applications detailing their implementation of PLC concepts over the course of at least three years and demonstrate clear evidence of improved student learning. The applications are reviewed by a committee.

"It's awesome," Bush Principal Lynne Engle said. "We are one of only 10 schools in Missouri that have been recognized. This is probably one of the biggest recognitions that we've received."

She said educators at Bush were first trained in PLC concepts in 2011, though the award focuses on the last three or four years of work.

Solution Tree states the "big ideas" of PLC are a focus on learning, building a collaborative culture and an orientation toward results.

Engle said the school has used each of those principles while working toward this recognition.

"We're doing a lot of assessments, data collections, collaboration and interventions that are helping students improve to the fullest potential," she said.

The district collects information on student performance that helps educators make curriculum decisions based on real data. The data pinpoints students' real needs, Engle said.

"It's allowed us to learn a lot of strategies and helping us perform better (in academic achievement)," she added. "We've found means to continually work on progress-monitoring the kids so we know exactly where they're at and what steps they need to take. Those pieces alone have strengthened our building and have strengthened our curriculum."

The school has also increased collaboration between teachers at different grade levels, which helps ensure what children learn in each grade flows smoothly. Incorporating technology in classrooms has helped increase achievement as well.

The school has also focused on professional development for teachers, who have completed book studies and attended conferences together.

"We appreciate the district providing us so many professional development opportunities to help us grow as a school," Engle said.

Cowherd gave a shout-out to the FPS board of education for being willing to fund the PLC process.

As a Model PLC school, Bush will be able to collaborate with other schools that have received the distinction on a Solution Tree website. There, they can share implementation strategies and performance metrics with other educators.

Cowherd said other schools in the district are now working through the same process as Bush.

"It looks different in each building, but they're now working along same line," he said.

While Engle plans to continue improving the school, she's happy to be able to celebrate this achievement.

"Parents should be proud," she said. "This really is a major award."