Best Practices

Best Practices at Sullivan Middle School

Sullivan Middle School's goal is to provide the best educational experiences possible for each student and to achieve the district and building mission that "all students will learn".  

We have a variety of systems in place to achieve that goal.  The following is a list of best practices that take place in our middle school on a regular basis.  These practices are performed by all teachers through collaborative planning, knowledge of educational strategies, and an emphasis on student data. 


Professional Learning Communities (PLC):  Our teachers meet on a regular basis to collaborate to answer the critical questions of a PLC:  What is it we expect them to learn?  How will we know when they have learned it?  How will we respond when they don't learn it?  How will we respond when they already know it?  

Our teachers meet to look at student MAP data, data from standardized testing, pre-test and post-test data, and formative data seen during classroom activities.  The team collaborates to look at ways to impact student learning through the PLC process.  Teaching strategies are often shared and a sense of "teamwork" exists in these meetings.  We arrange our teachers in two main dimensions: horizontal or grade level teams (including elective teachers) and vertical or content level teams.  These two arrangements allow teachers to concentrate on students and their area of expertise to answer the four corollary PLC questions.  


Response to Intervention (RtI):   RtI is a practice and philosophy where various student data and information can be viewed through a lens of increasing need for support (or tiers).  The philosophy is simple:  Most students perform well and need little additional support beyond the standard curriculum or practices already established in a school.  RtI estimates that these 75 - 80% of students do not need additional support and they are referred to as Tier 1.  Students that need additional supports beyond the standard curriculum or practices make up Tier 2.  Tier 2 students are a smaller group of students (perhaps 15 - 20% of the total group) who need additional supports or interventions to meet the expectations or benchmarks of the school.  Our teachers enhance the learning for all students by developing and sharing strategies to provide that additional help that students may need.  These strategies are often shared through our collaborative PLC process (mentioned above).  Finally, a smaller number of students may need more intensive support to be successful and meet the expected standard.  These students are considered Tier 3 students or those who the Tier 2 interventions were inadequate.  Tier 3 students typically make up less than 8% of the total number of students.  Tier 3 interventions require creative strategies and often specialized efforts to make a difference in student performance.  We pride ourselves on using best practices and strategies to meet students in all three tiers.  

The RtI model can be applied to a wide variety of student data including test scores, work habits, behavior, attendance, or other dimensions of student performance.  The RtI philosophy works well with the PLC model in regard to viewing student data in terms of the three tiers.  


Student Assistance Team (SAT):  Sullivan Middle School takes a proactive approach to solving problems and helping all students.  When students are exhibiting signs of difficulty (whether it be academic, emotional, social, behavioral, or simply a change in performance) our teacher look for ways to reach out and support the individual student.  This is done in a collaborative way through the SAT process.  The Student Assistance Team meets together on a regular basis to identify students who may be having difficulty and the team collaborates to gather additional information and help problem solve so that students can reach their full potential.  This involves teacher observations, data collection, and working collaboratively to develop strategies or identify resources that will help the individual student to be successful in our school.  This team includes the school counselor, experienced teachers, and other district personnel who have a passion for being creative and using different strategies.  


Lunch and Work Program (LAW):  One factor in a student's success at Sullivan Middle School is their ability to learn from and complete various assignments relating to the curriculum (classwork and sometimes homework).  In most cases, successful completion of these learning activities or assignments are critical to learning the curriculum and the scores from these activities are used in the calculation of student grades.  Our school has decided to go beyond giving a zero or a failing grade for incomplete assignments and puts a high value on the learning these activities can provide.  So, the LAW program was introduced to give students additional time to work during lunch time on the assignments that have not been completed.  We believe that this will not only give the students additional time to complete the assignments but also holds them accountable for the material (and work) that they could avoid by accepting an inadequate score or a zero.  We have seen this program make a difference for students.  In many cases, students don't ever have to attend LAW to finish assignments, but the ones who do get a chance to complete missing work and benefit from learning the curriculum presented in these assignments.  Our student handbook describes the program more fully.  


Feel free to ask any teacher about these best practices that we use to help every student to be successful.  These are the systems that Sullivan Middle School is using to do the best for each of our students every day!