Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness Student Learning Objectives
Below is an article that I have written to share information about the status of the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. I encourage you to read and answer the questions at its end by utilizing the comment link. I am very interested in taking your feedback to my fellow members of the MCEE and hope you will share your insights.
At the MCEE meeting on December 11, 2012 we discussed the possibility of using student learning objectives (SLOs) to measure student growth for teachers, especially those in non-tested subjects. The MCEE discussed SLOs with Dr. James Stronge, a national leader and scholar in this area of teacher evaluation.
Student learning objectives include several steps or stages of development and implementation. To write a comprehensive SLO, a teacher and administrator work collaboratively to:
- develop the setting or the area of content/subject,
- provide baseline data,
- write an objective statement,
- create strategies to attain the objective, and
- develop evidence and a target date for implementation.
It is essential that teachers and principals strive to create learning goals based on the content, the students’ performance and the school improvement plan.
Student learning objectives can be created by a group of teachers (based on a grade level or content area) or by individual teachers. The Stronge organization has a library of field-tested SLOs used by teachers and administrators in both tested and non-tested subjects. This vast library includes K-3 items as well as items for non-instructional staff such as librarians and counselors. New Jersey has an excellent document that provides a variety of sample goals and assessments (search online for NJ SLO Handout).
Examples of student learning objectives are listed below:
- 5th grade reading goal: During the 2011-2012 school year, all students will make measureable progress in reading. The three students on a first, two on a second, one on a third, and three on a fourth grade QRI will improve by at least a year and a half. Students reading on or above level 13/21 (60%) will improve by at least one year. Therefore, with use of QRI 16/21 (74%) students will be reading on or above grade level.
- 6th grade mathematics goal: All students will make measureable progress in Math 6. Eighty-five percent of the students (20) will attain a score of 75% or better on the sixth grade math post-test.
- 8th grade art goal: All students will make measureable progress in art. Ninety-five percent (81) of my eighth grade art students will correctly identify art and architecture from the past, compare and contrast works of art, and respond to questions about works of art.
- 7th and 8th grade band goal: For the current school year, all band students will demonstrate progress in the principal items of our concert performance assessment by improving by at least one performance level, as measured by the VBODA performance assessment. Seventy-nine percent of students will score at "Excellent" or higher, while 21% of students will perform at least “Good” on the concert assessment in March 2012.
Stronge has worked with local school districts as well as states such as Kentucky, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia.
Georgia was a Race to the Top winner of $400 million and implemented state-wide teacher and administrator evaluation models. They use a 50/50 model. Fifty percent of the teacher’s evaluation is based on the student learning objective. The process of approving goals is very stringent and approved locally.
Virginia is using Stronge’s evaluation system in 132 school districts. Sixty percent of the overall evaluation is based on process variables such as observations, 20% is based on student growth (for tested subjects only), and 20% is based on student learning objectives. For teachers of non-tested subjects, 40% of their overall evaluation is based on student learning objectives. Local districts have some flexibility, but they are concerned about comparability between teachers. In Fairfax County, staff members review sample goal design, discuss rigor, applicability, and are trained online and in person on how to write student learning objectives.
The training for principals is critical because they must oversee the goal writing process and override written goals when not rigorous or appropriate. In early research comparing tested and non-tested teacher’s goals in Virginia, there appeared to be no practical or significant rating difference based on the student learning outcomes.
To validate the use of SLOs educators must use legitimate measures. There are three methods of assessment: paper and pencil tests (multiple choice, short answer), performance measures (writing rubrics, beginning/mid-year/end of year projects), and skills checklists (reading readiness, 1st grade preparedness). Stronge does not recommend that teachers use student grades as part of the SLO development process and suggests that teacher-made tests are also not a good measurement tool. To ensure comparability, teachers and principals must create rigorous but attainable goals.
To implement SLOs in Michigan, Stronge recommends the following:
- MCEE must determine the protocol for using SLOs and decide what percent of the overall evaluation should involve SLOs.
- The MCEE must create or recommend that an organization create a guidebook for principals and teachers to use.
- Michigan must implement a train the trainer model for SLOs. We must invest in in-person trainers, have excellent resources, and use online training and webinars.
Training with the Stronge organization includes site visits to ensure fidelity of the process.
Your opinion is very important, please take a moment to respond:
- What do you think about SLOs?
- Do student learning outcomes allow teachers to develop and measure reasonable and appropriate goals?
- Would this process be too much of a burden on the building administrator?
- Should SLOs be combined with a standardized testing score to fulfill the legislative requirement of 50% of the overall evaluation by 2015-2016?
Jennifer S. Hammond, Ph.D.
Principal, Grand Blanc High School