MILTON, Ga. – Northwestern Middle School was recently named a DuFour Model PLC (professional learning community) School, recognizing the school’s success in creating environments that promote student learning.
Northwestern becomes the first Georgia school to receive the recognition, and joins fewer than 200 schools nationwide in 34 states that have demonstrated teaching practices effective enough to be recognized as a DuFour Model PLC School.
A professional learning community is a professional development design that promotes collaborative learning among colleagues. The model was created by educators Richard and Rebecca DuFour and emphasizes the key to improved instruction for students is ongoing, job-embedded learning for the adults who serve those students.
The three foundational elements of PLCs include the willingness to examine all practices in light of their impact on learning; commitment to working together to achieve a collective purpose; and assessing effectiveness based on results rather than intentions.
Northwestern Principal Jasmine Kullar credits the school’s success to her staff who pushed past their comfort zones and took on a new challenge.
“Our pass rates on the CRCTs have always been very high, which is why changing anything can be difficult,” she said. “But when we began focusing on our ‘exceeding’ scores [highest scoring category], we realized there were some changes that needed to be made because so many more of our students are capable of scoring in that category. As a result of our work with PLCs, our exceeding scores have consistently increased over the last three years.”
Schools are evaluated based on strict criteria, including demonstration of a commitment to PLC concepts, implementation of these concepts for at least three years and clear evidence of improved student learning over that period. Once measurable results can be seen, the school is considered for model school status by the PLC Review Committee.
Kullar said teachers at Northwestern work in teams with a common purpose, aim for consistency and effective communication and engage parents in the students’ learning as well.
“This is an ongoing journey and we look forward to continuing to improve our practices so we can improve student learning,” she added.
Recognized model PLC schools are listed on www.allthingsplc.info where they share implementation strategies, structures and performance. The site also includes tools for team collaboration, articles and research about PLCs, blog posts and other related resources.