Friday, March 6, 2015

The Kentucky Department of Education Writes... The Fundamental 5 Changes Schools

Three years ago, the LYS Team began working with the dedicated staff of Fairdale High School. The purpose, to help teachers and instructional leaders work just a little bit different in order to increase student opportunity.  Since then the student performance trajectory for this large, diverse, Title I school has been, quite simply... unprecedented. But don’t take the word of the proud principal, enthusiastic staff, or me.  Instead, take a look at what the Kentucky Department of Education wrote.


The implementation and monitoring of the “Fundamental 5” initiative, which is a process for designing, delivering, and reflecting on the instructional process, is truly exemplary and has helped move the school forward in the quest to be a model school of teaching and learning.

The student performance data, staff survey data, stakeholder interviews, and the school leadership presentation to the KDOE Internal Review Team strongly indicate that the “Fundamental 5” initiative has changed the culture of the school into one of continuous improvement for all. Classroom observations reveal that all classrooms implement the first fundamental, “Frame the Lesson,” by posting the day’s learning target and closing task on a small white board in the classroom.

The observations and interviews with teachers reveal an intentional focus on “Working in the Power Zone” whereby teachers are in close proximity to their students increasing feedback and monitoring for understanding.

Most observed lessons included teachers arranging students in small groups and having the students engage in “Purposeful Talk” which allows students to derive personal meaning from the content and foster collaboration among students.

Teachers also “Recognized and Reinforced” increased student performance which improved student behavior and increased student motivation.

The “Fundamental 5” initiative has also caused all content areas to now engage in “Critical Writing” to help formatively assess mastery of the content. While not all content area teachers are comfortable with the writing piece as of yet, the PLC (professional learning community) structure that has been implemented to discuss student data has taken on a whole new level of importance.

The data derived from PowerWalks walkthroughs is analyzed and addressed through the PLC process to improve teaching and increase student achievement. The PLC structure at the school has been recognized as a model school for PLC work.

The turnover rate of teachers at the school has been minor compared to some PLA (persistently low-achieving) schools. Interviews with teachers indicate the biggest reason they want to stay is the administration’s commitment to helping them improve as teachers and the feeling of community with the school building as a whole.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on! 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TASSP Summer Conference (Multiple Presentations); TEPSA Summer Conference (Multiple Presentations); NAESP National Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

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