Countryside Elementary School
Loudoun County Public Schools
Comprehensive Needs Assessment - Executive Summary
20624 Countryside Blvd. Sterling, VA 20165
Mr. Richard Rudnick
Provide descriptive information related to the curriculum, instructional programs, and/or existing interventions to support the academic, behavioral, and/or social emotional needs for all students.
Countryside Elementary School implements content and instructional practices as outline by Loudoun County Public Schools. All instructional programs align to the Virginia Standards of Learning and utilize appropriate curriculum resources.
ACADEMIC INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS
Reading and Writing (K-5): All grade levels utilize the Pathways Guided Reading model and implement aspects of Balanced Literacy through several components: guided reading (small group instruction), word work, word study, shared reading, and read alouds. Additionally, grades 3-5 implement Reader’s Workshop. These grade levels begin with a mini-lesson addressing reading skills and strategies before reading independently. Teachers have the option to pull groups for Pathways Guided Reading groups or conduct individual mini-conferences with students during this time. Students then move into partner reading, which gives students the opportunity to use peer-assisted learning strategies to practice and refine taught skills and strategies. All grade levels follow the Writer’s Workshop model as well. Students are brought together for whole-group instruction (mini-lesson) to learn strategies for writing a variety of pieces. Students delve into sustained independent writing time, during which the teacher pulls strategy groups or meets with individual students for coaching. During this section of time, students may utilize writing partners to gather feedback and suggestions for improving their writing. LCPS Reading and Writing Pacing Guides are used to set the sequence and timing for implementing these two instructional programs.
Mathematics (K-5): Teachers engage students in hands-on learning experiences that facilitate critical thinking skills and real-life problem solving. Students are encouraged to learn and apply taught concepts to strengthen their mathematical reasoning skills.
Science (K-5): Students are taught to explore Science concepts such as force and motion, matter properties, life processes, Earth and space systems, as well as Earth patterns, cycles, changes, and resources. These concepts are supported through the development of scientific skills including observation, experimentation, reasoning, and research. These hands-on learning experiences encourage students to heighten their critical thinking skills while engaging in the scientific process.
Social Studies (K-3) and History (4-5): Students in grades K-2 examine social science constructs through the lens of how they function within an overarching community (school, hometown, etc.). Concepts such as citizenship, patriotism, diversity, and economics are addressed and applied on both a personal level and extended to how they are seen in the student’s everyday lives. History and geography are also examined with these students, again through the lens of how it impacts or shapes the student’s direct community. Students in grade 3 expand their understanding of social science concepts toward more global concepts, such as world history, geographies of various land masses, economies in different cultures, and the importance of civics and citizenship nationally. These concepts are presented in student-centered instruction that provides an opportunity to experience content. Students in grades 4-5 transition to learning historical concepts such as Virginia Studies and US History.
Special Education: Students qualifying for Special Education services are supported through accommodations outlined in their Individualized Education Plans. Students receive these accommodations by their general education teacher (inclusion), case managers, and from Special Education teaching assistants. Classroom teachers and resource teachers collaborate in the lesson planning process and submit a co-teaching log to ensure that students’ needs are reviewed on a consistent basis. Every grade level supports Special Education inclusion in classrooms. Countryside Elementary Schools additionally houses a self-contained Autism room for students whose IEPs designate that their needs are best served in a specialized environment. To meet the least restrictive environment for students, there are a variety of models available ranging from full inclusion to push-in.
English-Learner Program: Students whose native language is not English require support in terms of their language acquisition and vocabulary development. Students who are designated as L1 and L2 receive daily interventions by the English-learner (EL) teacher. L3 and L4 students receive interventions based upon their individual needs and progress in particular academic areas. EL teachers provide support to students during Reading, Writing, and Math instruction. Students have the opportunity to expand their listening, speaking, and written vocabularies through tailored instruction during small group instruction. Using the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program, EL students build their phonemic awareness and phonics in English.
Gifted and Talented Programs: In grades K-4, students participate in SEARCH instruction. During these lessons (provided once every two weeks), students engage with content designed to problem solve in unique ways. This program is designed to enhance students’ critical thinking and creativity skills. Students are identified for the Gifted and Talented Program beginning in grade 3. Identified students have the option of enrolling in FUTURA in fourth and fifth grade. This program is designed teach and utilize critical thinking skills through authentic problem-solving.
Music, Art, Physical Education, and Library (K-5): Students across every grade level have the opportunity to participate in each of these specialized areas on a weekly basis. These programs bolster students’ creativity, fine/ gross motor capacities, and foster a love of reading. Additionally, these specialists participate and engage in the lesson planning and delivery of PBL experiences school-wide.
Reading Specialists: Countryside Elementary houses two full-time Reading Specialists. These teachers pull tier 3 students (as identified through PALS and DRA) for additional focused small group or individual reading instruction. The Reading Specialists provide professional development for staff members to enhance the use of balanced literacy throughout the school.
PALS Tutors: The two Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) tutors provide phonics instruction to identified students throughout the school week. Students receive instruction in phonological and phonemic awareness, segmenting sounds, and blending sounds to make meaning.
RtI: Each grade level receives a dedicated 30-minute block of time to further support the needs of tier 2 and tier 3 students. Teachers collaborate to identify students from each classroom in need of further support and then group students across the grade level based on area of need. Groups are altered as needed based on the results of progress monitoring data (FASTBridge). Tier 1 students have the opportunity to engage in enrichment activities during this timeframe.
Student Intervention Team / Child Study: The Student Intervention Team (SIT) is utilized when a student requires tier 2 academic and behavioral interventions. Teachers bring student concerns to the team in an effort to develop a plan of action to best meet the needs of each student. A student in the Child Study process receives tier 3 recommended individual interventions based on the academic, behavioral, or social/emotional needs of the student. The classroom teacher collects data on the student in regards to how effective the interventions are in supporting students.
Specialized Reading Instruction: English-Learner and Special Education teachers (as well as some general education teachers) at Countryside Elementary School have received training in a variety of specialized reading instructional programs (LLI, OG, etc.). These programs are implemented with students based on the academic needs of each student and the focuses/targets implicit with each reading program.
Speech and Language: Students exhibiting delays in their speech formation can be identified for Speech and Language interventions following Loudoun County Public Schools protocol (and outlined in students’ IEPs). Students participate in small group or individual lessons in a resource setting or in the general education classroom administered by the school speech and language pathologist, working on sound identification, manipulation, and articulation.
BEHAVIORAL PROGRAMS AND INTERVENTIONS:
PBIS: Countryside Elementary School utilizes a school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system. This behavioral program encourages students to engage prosocially and demonstrate positive behaviors through systemic school-wide incentives. Students earn individual and class incentives across the school in addition to in-class behavior management systems.
PBIS SIT: The PBIS Student Intervention Team is specifically aimed at helping teachers to better support students who are demonstrating difficulties with their classroom behavior. Teachers can bring student concerns to the PBIS SIT to discuss student behaviors and cultivate appropriate interventions to try.
Behavior Intervention Team: The Behavior Intervention Team (BIT) is comprised of administrators, Special Education teachers, and school counselors. These trained professionals intervene when students demonstrate heightened behavioral actions. The BIT team intercedes to assist classroom teachers in calming students and appropriately transitioning students back to the classroom.
Check In/Check Out: Students who have repeated minor behavioral offenses can participate in the Check In/Check Out program. These students are paired with a teacher who serves as a reflection and sounding board for students’ behavior. Students are encouraged to think about their behaviors throughout the day, discuss strategies for mediating behavioral situations, and receive encouragement.
Guidance Counseling: Countryside Elementary School employs two school counselors; one for K-2 and one for 3-5. Guidance Counselors conduct classroom lessons on a bi-weekly basis to support the development of prosocial behaviors, as well as address student emotional needs. In addition to serving on the BIT, Guidance Counselors also meet with small groups of students to target specific social strategies.
School Psychologist: The school psychologist works in tandem with Countryside Elementary School’s Special Education program. The psychologist will work with students individually to collect data or administer assessments, or may work as an observer in the general education classroom. These efforts are made to assist in the identification of students in need of additional behavioral, social, or emotional supports.
Check In/Check Out: Students who struggle with emotional regulation or need support with social interactions can participate in the Check In/Check Out program as well. These students are paired with a teacher who provides encouragement and support in terms of their social and emotional progress. Students are given an opportunity to reflect on their actions during the day and are given redirection as needed by their mentor teacher.
Extended Learning Opportunities
Provide information to describe extended learning opportunities for students, staff, families and community.
Climbing Cougars (SOL Remediation Extended Day Program): Teachers may recommend struggling students for participation in the after-school Climbing Cougars Program. Students receive small group reading and math instruction targeting specific skills and incorporating test-taking strategies. The goal of this program is to support student readiness to take and succeed on the Standards of Learning assessments.
PTA After-School Clubs: Throughout the school year, Countryside Elementary School’s PTA coordinates and assists in funding teacher-run after-school clubs. Focuses for clubs vary by teacher, with past themes featuring coding, STEM, nature, mathematics, and crafting. These clubs foster students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while simultaneously stimulating student creativity and collaboration.
Pathways Reading Training: Teachers school-wide receive differentiated continuing professional development in the Pathways Reading model. Reading Specialists administer these trainings to support the implementation of small group guided reading, word work, word study, read alouds, and shared reading.
Lab Site Visits: Throughout the school year, teachers at Countryside Elementary School will participate in a lab site initiative in conjunction with a Reading Specialist/Pathways Literacy Coach to facilitate the implementation of Reader’s Workshop (3-5) and Writer’s Workshop (K-2). These monthly specialized trainings are designed to assist classroom teachers in the collaborative planning of these lessons, actively engaging students in a complete workshop lesson, and then debriefing to discuss strengths and areas of growth.
Monthly Staff Development: Each month, staff at Countryside Elementary School participate in differentiated staff development aimed at meeting the needs specific to the school. These professional development activities can either be mandated from the county or developed in response to areas of need determined from areas of growth identified in the Comprehensive Needs Assessment.
FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY:
Parent-Teacher Association: The PTA is an active organization within Countryside Elementary School, which facilitates a collaborative effort on the part of parents, teachers, and administrators to enhance the overall well-being of the school. The PTA organizes school events, hosts fundraisers, provides teachers with grants, and bolsters the school’s climate.
Areas of Strength
Summary statements for domains providing evidence of analysis of trend data over a 3-year period and data triangulation to confirm areas of strength. Provide a clear connection between outcomes and contributing factors.
Staff, Parent, and Student Perception Surveys: Through a review of the student survey from the end of the 2018 school year, it is determined that the areas of strength continue in the areas of teacher-student relationships for students of all races and cultures. The staff survey results indicate the general areas of strength are in the categories of: collaborative working relationships, student-centered vision, mission and policies, student responsibility for learning, teacher responsibility for learning, and teacher relations with students and home. Overall, the parents at Countryside Elementary continued to express satisfaction with the academic expectations and individualized instruction their children receive. The parent survey demonstrated an overall level of satisfaction with communication, parent and staff relationships, and school safety. Students and parents both indicate a continued feeling of safety within Countryside Elementary throughout the school day. Data across all three surveys indicate that teacher/parent relationships, teacher/student relationships, and teacher/teacher relationships are areas of strength for Countryside. Students feel that they are adequately supported in their academic learning. Parents share this sentiment, and teachers also feel they are providing appropriate supports to advance student achievement. Some possible root causes for these areas are that Countryside Elementary staff ensures that safe environments are supported throughout the school. 95% of all students reported feeling safe at Countryside Elementary School. 96% of parents who completed the survey reported that they feel the school provides a safe and orderly place for students to learn. Additionally, 91% of these parents indicated that their child feels safe from bullying while at school. Another possible root cause is that teachers take responsibility for implementing academic supports for students. 93% of students feel that their teachers provide them with opportunities to try new or challenging tasks at school. 94% of teachers report using instructional practices to support critical thinking, providing opportunities for student voice and choice, as well as varying their instruction to personalize learning for students. 90% of parents feel that there are high expectations for academic achievement. 97% of parents also feel that their child’s teacher provides help when their child needs it. A final contributing factor is that teachers treat one another professionally, as well as create a welcoming environment for students and parents. 91% of teachers report that faculty treat each other professionally. 94% of students feel that most teachers and other adults treat them with respect. The overall average of parent perception in regards to relationships with the school is 94%.
Lesson Planning: Lesson planning collaboration among staff members is facilitated through the use of online planning. Lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of students with disabilities and English-learners. PBL components are highlighted within lesson plans to include authentic connections. Additionally, lessons are aligned to state standards and reflect accessing higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Technology: On the 2017-2018 BrightBytes Survey, 98% of students and 89% of teachers reported being able to learn new technologies easily. 90% of students and 89% of teachers reported that their learning and daily life are enhanced by using technology. This indicates that both teachers and students regularly interact with technology and feel that it plays a crucial role in their lives. Student proficiency with technology is demonstrated in their ability to record and edit video with ease (89%) and resolve their own technology problems (78%). Teachers reported feeling that they readily utilize essential skills for contributing to, and collaborating on, the Internet (76%) and 83% of teachers who use assistive technology use it with students at least monthly.
Project-Based Learning: Countryside staff has continued to train new staff members in the PBL model. Additionally, a number of the staff were trained in PBA during the 2018 summer. During the 2017-2018 school year, staff at Countryside worked to organize at least four PBL projects. Countryside continues to invite and use parents and community members to enhance the PBL projects. Continued staff development for making daily, authentic connections will take place during the 2018-2019 school year. Countryside continues to work toward mastering Gold Standard PBL projects. Team collaboration for the planning, developing, and implementation of PBL projects has been a prominent strength at Countryside Elementary School. Some possible root causes for this success could be that PBL discussions have been integrated into the CLT protocol as well as incorporated into lesson planning. Online planning allows teachers to share lesson plans and collaborate on authentic daily connections. Finally, more of the Countryside Elementary School staff members have been trained in PBL 101 and gained experience teaching with PBL.
Chronic Absenteeism: Countryside Elementary School comprises several student subgroups in which less than 5% of students missed 20% or more of the school year. These groups include: American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, White, Two or More races, Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners, and Homeless. With most subgroups having more than 90% of students missing 0-9% of the school year, it is evident that Countryside reflects a lack of absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism and tardiness is monitored closely, with letters and phone calls routinely used to alert parents to their child’s attendance status. Guidance and administrators worked in tandem to identify students who qualified as chronically absent/tardy. Previously, a racetrack competition for weekly attendance was posted on an accessible bulletin board for students to view daily. These grade level classes received class cougar paws (part of PBIS initiative) as their incentive. Countryside Elementary School also uses weekly attendance incentive implemented by grade level to encourage students to attend school regularly and on-time. Finally, check-in/check-out procedures ensure that students form trusting relationships with adults in the building.
Countryside has met or surpassed the state accreditation rate for the past three years. This has remained consistent despite increased enrollment and further diversification. While every subgroup of students has marked an increase in achievement scores for Reading and Math, part of this is attributed to the growth consideration for English-learners and students with disabilities. With the changes to the dynamics of state reporting, further comment on the state of student achievement is not prudent. English Learners saw marked increases in both Science and History as well. Students with disabilities had a significant increase in History scores. These subgroups tend to benefit from the growth and progress considerations made available this testing year, therefore growths in these areas should be considered cautiously. A few factors that could be contributing to the academic successes at Countryside Elementary School are the Climbing Cougars SOL Remediation Program. Students who are identified as struggling in reading and/or math concepts are given the opportunity to receive targeted after school remediation in preparation for SOL tests. The use of bi-monthly CLT meetings assist teachers in addressing student academic progress in reading and math. This allows teachers to discuss intervention strategies and rearrange small groups to support identified students. There was an Inflation of scores for English-learners and students with disabilities due to growth component. The 2017-2018 academic achievement data indicates a disproportionate rise in student achievement for English-learners and students with disabilities. This inordinate increase is attributed to the growth component included for student scores. This could also account for some growth made in ethnicity categories, as EL and SPED students can also identify with a particular race.
Areas for Growth
Summary statements for domains providing evidence of analysis of trend data over a 3-year period and data triangulation to confirm areas of concern. Provide a clear connection between outcomes and contributing factors.
Staff, Parent, and Student Perceptions Surveys: In reviewing the data from the 2017 and the 2018 surveys, it has been noted that there was a decline in student relations in terms of kindness and caring for one another. An analysis of the data demonstrates that this decline is particularly prominent in grade five. The staff survey results indicate the general area for growth is in the category of: rules and expectations and some areas within school leadership. While the data indicate an increase of 24% from the previous year to the current year in the area of consequences for breaking school rules, this is still an identified area of growth for Countryside Elementary. The survey data indicate that only 57% of the staff feel Countryside is an example of the modern learning environment students need, identifying another area of growth. Parents indicated some areas for growth as well. The data indicate only 68% of the parents feel that the school encourages their children to take academic risks. This is a 5% decrease in parent satisfaction from the previous year survey results. As indicated in the three surveys, Countryside Elementary School’s areas of growth include the following: improving perceived student relations in terms of kindness and caring for one another; establishing and maintaining fair and consistent consequences for breaking school rules; ensuring that students understand the school’s behavioral expectations; and supporting staff in creating a modern learning environment that suits student needs. One factor that could be contributing to these areas of growth was the departmentalization in fifth grade inhibiting students’ abilities to create positive peer and teacher relationships. Only 67% of fifth grade students reported that students are kind to each other. Additionally, only 76% of these students reported that students treat one another with respect. Teachers also are not fully aware of what consequences were given to students when they are brought to the office. Only 66% of teachers report feeling that consequences for breaking school rules are fair. Additionally, only 75% of overall students feel that the consequences for breaking school rules are fair. It is also possible that teachers may not consistently utilize common PBIS vocabulary. Specific classroom expectations may not be clearly communicated to students. 72% of teachers believe that students understand the behavioral expectations for the school. A final concern comes from the fact that there was previously a lack of available student technology. Teachers may not have been aware of online instructional technology, which could have resulted in 57% of teachers report that the school is an example of a modern learning environment that students need.
Lesson Planning: Lessons need to be more greatly differentiated to meet needs of students who exceed the standards. In addition, more lessons should begin to reflect daily authentic connections. Teachers need to be using a variety of student assessment data to provide a basis for teachers’ decisions when creating lesson plans. Finally, more detailed and accessible substitute lesson plans should be created when a known absence is upcoming.
Technology: Due to a lack of personal instructional technology at Countryside Elementary School in the previous school year, data from the BrightBytes survey has resulted in several areas of growth for technology use. Students do not have the troubleshooting skills necessary to use technology proficiently and meaningfully in the classroom. Only 35% of students report that they can solve their own technology problems. Interestingly, only 9% of students and 61% of teachers reported that they find basic computing skills (sending emails, creating spreadsheets) easy to perform. Despite this low percentage, only 11% of teachers expressed an interest for professional development in this area. Digital citizenship also appeared to be lacking for both teachers and students at Countryside Elementary School. Only 13% of students readily utilize essential skills for contributing to and collaborating on the Internet. Additionally, 17% of teachers and 6% of students reported being knowledgeable of responsible behavior when using technology (legal use of content, establishing a presence online, online safety, and cyberbullying prevention). 87% of teachers spend less than 3 hours per year teaching digital citizenship. The academic use of the Internet and instructional technology also has a weak presence in classrooms. 56% of students are asked to collaborate online with classmates at least monthly with 0% of students are asked to write online at least monthly. 26% of students are asked to identify and solve authentic problems using technology monthly and only 50% of teachers ask their students to complete online assessments at least monthly.
Project-Based Learning: Countryside Elementary staff continues to need support in making authentic daily connections. Authentic connections are created when students are able to contextualize their learning to what is seen in their everyday lives. One possible root cause for this area could be that staff members do not consistently reach out to parents/community members. Presence of parents and community members as active members in the PBL process is often limited. Countryside Elementary School has also not extended training on making authentic connections. There has only been 1 training on authentic connections was offered on-site. Finally, staff members vary in the extent of their training with PBL. Some staff members have attended multiple PBL trainings while others have only had the opportunity to attend a few. Returning CTY teachers have experience implementing at least four major PBL projects and making daily connections. New teachers (either to the county or to CTY) may not have requisite expertise and experience with PBL.
Discipline: It seems that a disproportionate percentage of Black and Special Education students were given office referrals throughout the school year. This could be due in part by the leadership team’s more consistent efforts in entering referrals throughout the school year. This could explain why office referrals increased from 129 to 223 referrals from the 2016/17 to the 2017/18 school year. While the highest percentage of student referrals is attributed to Black and Special Education students, this does not account for repeat offenders. There were 35 office referrals for Black students and 41 for Special Education students, it is not possible to determine how many of these referrals are attributed to students who accumulate multiple referrals throughout the year. In addition, some referred students were not properly identified for Special Education support at the time of their referrals. Students may have been in the Child Study process during the school year and were not identified until late in the school year.
Chronic Absenteeism: Countryside Elementary School had two subgroups in which a high percentage of students missed 20%+ of the school year: Black and Special Education students. A contributing factor for this area of growth could be that students with disabilities at times have medical issues that prevent them from attending school regularly. Excused absences for students with medical conditions are still reflected in attendance data. Oftentimes, family situations may inhibit students attendance to school. When family members fall ill for example, older siblings may be required to remain home to care for ailing family member. Finally, parents may not make consistent efforts to ensure that their children attend school regularly. Parents often do not initiate communication with the school to communicate attendance concerns. School reaches out to parents to alert when students are chronically absent.
Although academic achievement scores in Reading and Math reflect an increase, the inflation of scores can be highly attributed to the growth component that is included with state reporting this year. For example, of the 111 Reading tests administered to EL students, only 72 passed (without growth or EL progress consideration), which would only indicate a passing rate of 64.86%. This is in stark contrast to the 99.10% reported rate. Additionally, of the 57 Reading tests administered to SPED students, only 29 passed. This reflects a 50.88% passing rate as opposed to the 77.19% rate reported. Similar reports are found for Math. For EL students, of the 94 tests administered, only 81 passed (86.17% pass rate as opposed to 94.68%). For SPED students, 27 of the 50 administered tests were passing (54.00% pass rate as opposed to 70.00%). There are some student subgroups that also did not see gains in the Science and History sections of the Standards of Learning Assessments. Black students, Hispanic students, and students with disabilities all marked a decrease in scores from the previous year. Students with disabilities often have academic needs that do not respond to classroom interventions such as the Pathways Guided Reading model. Therefore, a contributing factor for this data could be that there is a need for more specialized reading instruction for these students and not all staff members are trained in specialized reading programs. Additionally, an inconsistent use of small group lessons/ interventions could be impacting students’ reading and math achievement. This is compounded by the fact that Resource teachers who provide these small group lessons or interventions are, at times, pulled for other duties. It is also important to note that progress monitoring for academic interventions was inconsistent throughout the year. Fastbridge training was not available to all teachers in the previous school year.