SLO's GRRRR? or SLO's YEAAA!
Apr 30, 2015
Making SLO’s part of teacher evaluation should make teachers as happy a 5 year old on Christmas morning.
Many states are requiring teachers to design Student Learning Objectives (SLO). The SLO is an informal research project conducted by the teacher using a targeted group of students. Basically, a teacher selects an academic area on which to focus their research. They formulate a goal, a plan, and a way to measure the SLO.
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So let’s say Walt looks at his Algebra 1 class and based on the data, he determines that Linear Functions is where he is going to focus his SLO. His goal is to raise students’ ability to solve Linear Functions. He gets approval from his supervisor and now he begins. First he determines a target group of students. Next he sets the measurement objective. He decides that all the students in the group will get a 70% or greater on a culminating test. Or maybe 70% of the students will get 70% or better on the culminating test. Thinking a growth model might be the best measurement, he decides to administer a pre and post test. Seventy percent of the students will raise their score by 20% from the results on the pre test. Often the teacher has considerable SLO measurement flexibility. He doesn’t have to use an assessment to measure the SLO at all maybe he has a project that as a multidimensional rubric to determine the student’s SLO success. The measurement requirement is within his control. A huge change from the way it usually works.
So at this point, if you are still reading, you're probably wondering why I am saying " YEAAAA!" because, on top of a lot of work and time, it sure sounds like "GRRRR!." Well, I don’t disagree with you on the work and time aspect of SLO’s. They will take time and work. But here is the thing! When an SLO is connected to your evaluation, as much 35% in some cases, it is the one part of the process that you CONTROL. Think about the teacher evaluation process. Some common teacher evaluation criteria include student performance on a third party high stakes state exam of which you have no control. You may not even be in the room when the students take the state exam. And always a percentage of your evaluation includes your supervisor’s opinion on how well you presented the lesson. The twice a year formal classroom observation based on the Danielson, Marzano, or some other educational big shot’s methodology.
Now think about the SLO process. It’s your goal, your measurement process, and your target group. You are in control of most of the process. Embrace the power and concentrate your efforts on the SLO. If it’s part of your evaluation, then knock this part out of the park and yell SLO’s YEAAAAA!
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