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Student Learning Objectives

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► Page Take-Aways
  • Read a compehensive FAQ about Student Learning Objectives.
  • Much of the data that goes into a SLO can be compiled automatically during the course of the year if you have the right software.

Student Learning Objectives have grown to a level of acceptance in school districts.  We still get questions a few times per week on SLOs.

  • I have to write how many SLOs?
  • Who has to write these?
  • Who evaluates them?
  • When are they due?
  • Are there any templates to follow?

In reality, you've been writing [student learning] objectives for years.  The process has just become a little more formal.  

Student Learning Objectives Help

Below are a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that ought to help clarify and explain the process. If you need to see some additional resources on Student Learning Objectives, you can find those here too (the white paper gets downloaded often.) You can also click the Request More Information button above to find out more about how OnHand Schools helps with the SLO process.

Student Learning Objectives FAQ

Below you will find the our SLO FAQs.  In general, each state creates their own rules related to Student Learning Objectives.  The good news is that most states do not stray far from the norm.  OnHand Schools is headquartered in Pennsylvania (although we work with school districts from Florida to Alaska.)  The answers to the questions below are PA-centric, but it is very likely that your state would offer a similar response.

  1. Who needs to write SLOs?

    The SLO in PA is written by individual teachers to the specific class, course or content area for which that teacher provides instruction. Educators who answer yes to both of these questions, must write SLO:

    1. Am I working under my instructional certification?
    2. Am I providing direct instruction to students in a particular subject?
  2. How many SLOs must one teacher write each year?

    Every teacher is responsible for writing at least one SLO. Districts may choose to have teachers write more than one SLO.

    Teachers may write their SLO in a variety of configurations as decided by the District. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a viable alternative for writing SLO. Teachers might write their SLO with a partner, in teams, across one grade level or as a department. However, all teachers must have their own SLO and it must be measured against only the students assigned to them.

  3. Who evaluates the SLOs?

    SLO evaluators may be identified by the District. Most Districts assign the evaluation of SLO to the school Principal. Of course, the teachers conduct a self-assessment of their SLO as part of the process, but the final evaluation is usually done in collaboration with an administrator, usually the school Principal.

  4. Must each SLO have a pre and post assessment?

    Because of the SLO design structure, to demonstrate growth either a pretest or historical, baseline student achievement data and a post assessment should be used. To demonstrate mastery no pretest is necessary, but a final assessment is necessary to quantify student achievement results.

  5. Can teachers work in pairs or grade level teams on the same SLO?

    Although this is a District decision, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recommends that teachers work collaboratively. Teachers may write their SLO in a variety of configurations as decided by the District. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a viable alternative for writing SLO. Teachers might write their SLO with a partner, in teams, across one grade level or as a department.

    Districts might have teachers of special area courses and special education partner with core subject area teachers and “Adopt an SLO” in a similar way as the previously promoted “Adopt an Anchor” process. However, all teachers must have their own SLO and it must be measured against only the students assigned to them.

  6. Can SLOs be revised or edited during the year?

    This is a District decision. Many districts are deciding to have a midpoint review to assess teacher progress and possibly make a course correction. This might be an especially useful support for teachers as they become familiar with the SLO process and implement it for the first time.

  7. Are SLOs required to run for a full school year?

    Most SLO are planned for a full year of implementation, however this is a District decision. It is helpful to keep in mind that it takes a period of at least six weeks for students to demonstrate growth. Thus, it is preferable to have a more extended time period to measure student growth or achievement. A SLO may be written for nine week modules, a semester and/or full year courses.

  8. Must there be an SLO for every student or class that a teacher teaches?

    This is a District decision, but it’s important that SLOs represent the diversity of students, courses and content that a teacher teaches. The SLO should be aligned with District-approved targets/indicators related to the PA Core Standards. The SLO should be based upon two time-bound instruction/data collections periods.

    SLOs must be supported by verifiable data and evidence that can be collected and scored in a standardized manner. SLO should include a set of independent performance measures. The number of students included might reasonably include a range from one class of 20 to six classes of 20 or 120 total students. SLO examples on SAS/RIA included a range of from 20 to 230 students monitored in one SLO.

  9. Will SLOs have to be rewritten every year, or may the same SLO be repeated each year?

    This is a District decision. There may be merit in teachers maintaining a similar SLO, although with a different population of students, over a period of more than one school year.

  10. What is the foundation of the Student Learning Objective? Is it based on individual student needs or course requirements?

    A SLO is a process to document one measure of educator effectiveness based on student achievement of state standards that should be reflected in the SLO goal statement. SLOs are one portion of the PA multiple measure, comprehensive system of Educator Effectiveness as authorized by Act 82 (HB 1901).

  11. Do all teacher have to write SLOs or only teachers whose students are not tested, such as Pre-K to Grade 3, or must all teachers of all subjects write SLOs?

    All certified teachers who develop and deliver instruction must use the SLO process to complete the elective portion of their teacher evaluation. Educators who answer yes to both of these questions, must write SLO:

    1. Am I working under my instructional certification?
    2. Am I providing direct instruction to students in a particular subject?
  12. Since there is such diversity among teachers, how will these SLOs be used with teacher evaluations? Is there a common rubric or protocol that can be applied to all teachers or will the teachers write their own rubrics?

    This is a District decision. Typically, teachers develop their own rubric with Principal’s input and approval. The rubric for the evaluation of teachers is typically a common format proposed by the District using Teacher Expectations levels: Distinguished, Proficient, Needs Improvement and Failing. The related percentages of achievement for each of the levels are identified by the teacher with the Principal’s input and approval.

  13. Where can the specific requirements and details of the SLO process be found?

    In Pennsylvania refer to the RIA Homeroom link on www.pdesas.org and to the Educator Effectiveness page on the PDE website: www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/educator_effectiveness_project/20903

    To calculate the final Teacher Effectiveness Rating including the SLO, evaluators will use the Excel spreadsheet tool on the PDE website at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/educator_effectiveness_project/20903

  14. What are some procedural areas of caution?

    Designated evaluators of SLO should take note and guide teachers in making appropriate adjustments if:

    • The SLO is based upon low numbers of students and/or data points
    • Goals and Performance Indicators are too loosely linked on the PA Core Standards
    • Performance Indicators are vague and lack Performance Criteria
    • Performance Measures are poorly designed, lack rigor or are not designed to measure PA Core Standards
    • Overall student growth or achievement expectations are unattainable

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RELATED RESOURCES

Download our white paper
The Big Questions: SLOs
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Download our infographic
Get Started Writing SLOs