Navigate Up
Sign In

School Improvement Plan


1.     Comprehensive Needs Assessment:


Mission Statement

At Fern Hill Elementary, we believe quality instruction matters the most in increasing student potential. We believe being a supportive, compassionate, professional environment serves to create a model of excellence in order to provide the foundation for continual professional growth and optimal student success.

To achieve this purpose, we are prepared to provide an engaging and academically challenging learning environment that encourages high expectations for student success utilizing researched- based instructional methods. 


Building Initiatives: (Common Agreements)

1) Utilize student formative/summative assessment data to customize delivery of district & school curriculum. 

2) Authentic peer collaboration to plan, implement and reflect on instruction and student learning.

3) Participate and implement Professional Development learning to continue professional Growth.

4) Partner with families & community to increase student achievement.



We hope to be a school where quality instruction along with shared vision between home, school and our many community partnerships will contribute to each child’s productivity. A school where all teachers grow from the opportunity to cultivate their teaching repertoire through collegial responsibility, constructive collaboration and mentoring.


Fern Hill is located in the south end of Tacoma. Our school is surrounded by a rich history and within the small Fern Hill historical business district. Our school community takes great pride in the relationships and support that our neighborhood brings to us. Our student body of approximately 330 students is made up of a broad variety of cultural and ethnic diversity.


2.    School wide Reform Strategies:

The content of this School Improvement Plan (SIP) represents the ongoing work of the staff using a continuous improvement process.  The goals and strategies in this plan represent and are influenced by the ongoing work of our staff members within grade level PLC teams and as a part of whole-staff training and professional development opportunities. The specifics of our Action Plan set forth our school-wide reform efforts and are a result of our staff’s review of student assessment data, the prioritization of staff and team goals, and the articulation of specific next steps in our work toward greater student achievement. 

A large focus for our staff revolves around teacher collaboration. The establishment of goals and focus areas for Fern Hill’s work is established collaboratively through our SCDM which includes sharing the plan publicly with parent representatives and asking for feedback.  Our school staff collaboration along with Booster Club’s common focus on providing more meaningful and frequent parent event opportunities will give us the opportunity to both share and seek more input from our stakeholders in regards to increasing academic achievement for our students.  This ongoing process influences our work and the establishment of our goals.  Student data is collected three times a year in the areas of reading and math.  The data is analyzed and adjustments are made as needed.  The plan is evaluated and revised based on the data and community input. 


3.    Instruction by Highly-Qualified Staff:

All teachers in Tacoma are required to meet NCLB highly qualified teacher requirements.   Schools receive a list from Human Resources with a list of their teachers and qualifications.  Each year, school principals sign an Attestation form to confirm that all staff are highly qualified.  To support teachers in providing excellent instruction, Fern Hill’s professional development is focused on best practices in reading and math.  Parents have the right to know their teachers and paraprofessionals qualifications.

Highly qualified paraprofessionals meet a rigorous standard of quality and can demonstrate knowledge and ability in instructing reading, math and writing.  All paraprofessionals working in the instructional setting must meet NCLB highly qualified requirements.  Administration and teachers work with paraprofessionals to focus on successful student performance on state standards.

Provisions for staff training in Tacoma include opportunities, incentives and compensation. The district provides a broad spectrum of classes on assessment, standards-based instruction and best practices in the content areas.  Staff members receive extra pay to attend these classes and clock hours/university credits are frequently offered. The district also supports and encourages school-based training that support the school’s SIP goals with building-based optional day pay for certificated staff.  In addition to classes, coaches at each Title I school provide ongoing, job embedded staff development.  Para educators and other staff receive workshop pay to attend both district and school workshops.  Para educators and other staff are encouraged to participate in all Reading and Math curriculum and assessment professional development.


4.    Professional Development Activities:

A great deal of the staffs’ learning at Fern Hill is a result of our teachers coming together as a collaborative team to support and learn from each other as they constantly seek to improve their practice.  This allows us as professionals to grow our learning and improve our instruction strategies to benefit student learning in a systematic and collaborative manner.  More formal professional development from the district will inform our school-based training especially around our focus area of math.  Our instructional coach and principal will continue to lead the work in implementing the elements of the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning ensuring the appropriate use of Learning Targets, Success Criteria and Student Engagement.  Our BERC data from our 2010 visit revealed a need to address the area of metacognition with a need to increase conceptual and cognitive thinking, along with thinking and questioning.  Question stems and prompts and resources are being implemented to assist us as a staff in getting kids to “think about their thinking.”


5.    Attract High Quality, Highly Qualified Teachers:

Tacoma actively recruits highly-qualified staff with our job fairs, letters of intent, recommendations to hire and applicant searches.  Tacoma works closely with colleges and universities to identify possible hires for teaching positions in Tacoma.  The district seeks to attract and keep highly-qualified staff at our school by providing opportunities for quality staff development and professional growth.  Through SCDM and professional learning communities, staff has a voice for improving the learning environment for everyone.


6.    Strategies to Increase Parent Involvement:

We believe strongly in the power of parent and family involvement in our school and have worked hard over the years to develop a strong parent involvement component into our school program.  We are fortunate to enjoy a growing and intentional support from our Booster Club and Community in Schools (CIS) program as they funnel their energies and resources directly back to students and learning.  Additionally, we have used our Title 1 money to provide for family curriculum nights where we have taught parents how to help students with homework.  This year we will have several evenings where we bring parents onboard to learn about our specific curricular academic programs so that they know how to help their children at home.  Specifically we are working to provide parent events in collaboration with our Communities in Schools program. 

We meet with parents and students to establish goals and set compacts for the year.  Parents review and provide input to our compacts, goals and parent policies.  We send home monthly classroom newsletters and a building newsletter that contains information about upcoming events and activities, as well as how parents can be involved.  We know that many of our parents work and are unable to volunteer in the classroom, so we provide these opportunities so parents can be involved in other meaningful ways in their child’s education.  We do however, have a few volunteers who want to regularly work with children to support learning, who help monitor progress in reading and math.  We are working to capitalize more on the volunteers and aligning their “gifts” to our student needs.  Beyond working with families, we regularly seek out ways to partner with our greater community through such strategies as mentors from the Boys and Girls Club, an annual food drive to support our families in need during the holidays, back to school supply donations, and Various Federal Holiday/Celebration presentations.


7.    Transition Plans for Preschools and Between Grade Levels:

Research tells us that students who struggle with school are most likely to “fall through the cracks” when transitioning from one grade span to the next, specifically from preschool to kindergarten and elementary to middle school.  Fern Hill has a school wide atmosphere that supports all transitions from grade to grade.  This year Fern Hill added a Head Start program to begin successful transitions from pre-school to kindergarten, to ensure that they are school ready, academically and socially. Kindergarten teachers use the WaKIDS program which includes parent meetings to discuss transitions, classroom visits and discussions about curriculum and expectations.  Fifth grade students are introduced and given support for their transition to middle school.  Students spend a day at the school they will be attending, where they meet teachers and “peer student mentors”.  Parent meetings are held, counselors from middle schools visit with students at Fern Hill as well as band and choir programs.  Students also have an opportunity to attend a transition summer school program for extra support.  As a Fern Hill team, we also meet with middle school teachers to discuss academic and social support systems to assist students in making this a positive, successful transition.  


8.    Teacher Included in Assessment Decision:

Grade 3                                               2016 (% of Students Meeting Standard)

SBA ELA                                                           48%

SBA Mathematics                                           45%


Grade 4                                               2016 (% of Students Meeting Standard)

SBA ELA                                                           68 %

SBA Mathematics                                           71%


Grade 5                                               2016 (% of Students Meeting Standard)

SBA ELA                                                           57%

SBA Mathematics                                           39%


The school-wide data from the 2016 SBA indicates some overall strength in Reading performance.  There is an overall strength in 4th grade reading and math. This data matches the progress as measured in our primary classrooms using district curricular programs in addition to district and classroom-based assessments.  The I Ready assessment screener is being used to progress monitor students in grades 2-5. Our work in this area continues to be teachers coming together to review student work and reviewing ongoing formative assessments to make instructional decisions that support student learning in the classrooms and layers of intervention that are provided through our Title 1/LAP reading program.  

In the area of Mathematics, each year since our implementation of the district’s Math Expressions program, more of our student’s performance is meeting the state standard.  Our instructional focus in this area will continue to be an area of focus as we work to increase the level of academic success in mathematics.  The District’s support of this work with ongoing professional development for teachers, coaches and principals combined with our school’s monthly grade level collaboration sessions and the development of intervention and enrichment plans to respond to student achievement will all contribute to the work designed to significantly and positively influence our students’ achievement.


9.    Provide Assistance to Students Experiencing Difficulty:

A Student Support Team meets monthly to develop academic and social/emotional support and intervention plans for students experiencing difficulty.  The Student Support Team is comprised of the principal, teacher, last year’s teacher, counselor, LRC teacher, and building coach.  Student plans are monitored frequently and adjusted as necessary.


10.           Coordination and Integration of Federal, State and local services:   

Fern Hill’s School Improvement Plan aligns with Tacoma’s District Improvement Plan.  The staff at Fern Hill work to support the school’s and district’s improvement efforts.  Title 1, Special Ed., LAP and Basic Ed. staff work in collaboration to provide an instructional program and intervention services to meet the needs of all Fern Hill students.  To support school-wide implementation, Title 1 provides technical assistance and NCLB support, Research and Evaluation provides data and instructional support, purchasing supports expenditures, Human Resources facilitates staffing and provides Highly Qualified information.  The Tacoma School District provides technical assistance for school improvement including School, Family and Community Partnership liaisons, Finance, Elementary Directors and Instructional Coaches.

While categorical and basic education funds are tracked separately in Tacoma, the programs work together to meet the needs of all students and support the school wide program goals.  Through the work of the Professional Learning Community, school wide planning and SCDM team, Title I, Special Ed., LAP  and the Homeless liaison team with Basic Ed. to improve academic achievement in Reading and Math, coordinating services for identified students and families. Title I Instructional Facilitators help teachers coordinate intervention instructional services for our students with high academic needs.  Title I also works closely with homeless services within the district.


Detailed School Improvement Plan Goals for the 2016-17 school year are also available (pdf).