The SLO mid-year checkpoint: 3 questions to help you determine if you’re on track
In the fall, we shared our top three recommendations for developing Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), based on research. We also suggested asking these four critical questions when setting your student learning objectives.
Now that you or your teachers have had your SLOs in place for a few months, it’s a great time to do a mid-year check-in and evaluate how far all students have come, as well as identify specific steps that can help everyone keep moving toward attaining those challenging goals. As we’ve noted before, the process of setting Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) varies across states, and the requirements differ. In this post I’ll focus on three universal questions that can help you make sure you have the supports in place to help you stay on track with your SLOs for the second half of the year. A key to success is to determine the best ways to engage ALL the stakeholders to help improve the likelihood of achieving the SLOs.
1. How will we involve students?
When you involve students, you get better results. If you give them the tools to visualize their own growth, even students in the earliest grades can have a clear understanding of working toward personal goals.
In general, teachers can better help students reach their goals by helping them understand:
- how to articulate in their own words what learning specific skills or knowledge looks like
- what specific activities they can do to move toward their goal, and how those activities relate to the skills and concepts they are developing in class
- how they’ll know if they’re on the right track (self-reflection, in-class assessments, a winter MAP RIT score, a conference with their teacher)
Teachers using Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) data as part of the SLO process can use the Student Goal Setting Worksheet at the beginning of the year or mid-year. Since the worksheet was designed to help every student understand his or her personal goal and take ownership of achieving it, it’s a natural pairing with SLOs.
There are many educator-developed resources on YouTube that offer inspiration as you think about how to guide students toward understanding the goal-setting process and motivating them to take ownership for achieving their goals. Here are several inspiring videos we found:
||How you can use it
|NWEA MAP Goal Setting Introduction and
Kindergarten Goal Setting
Educator: Megan Power, Poway Unified School District, CA
Grade Level: Kindergarten
|Get inspiration for individual goal setting. You’ll see kindergarteners using academic language and RIT values while setting and discussing their own goals with their teacher, as well as identifying a plan for achieving those goals.
|MAP Goal Setting
Educators: Mrs. Graves and Dr. Jurich, San Lorenzo Unified School District, CA
Grade Level: 2nd
|Get inspiration for discussing goals with a whole group. Many of the techniques used with this group of second graders are applicable in older grades as well. You’ll see a teacher and administrator talk with the whole class about a group growth goal that was achieved, then about how they will establish the next goal. Note that the teacher and administrator are using a simple explanation for HOW the goal was developed (perhaps to make it more accessible for students), but you’ll want to make sure that you review your data in a rigorous manner.
2. How will we partner with parents?
Getting parents involved in supporting students as they work toward their goals can be another great way to improve the likelihood of meeting or exceeding an SLO.
- The most powerful way to involve parents is through students. Have students share their goals with their parents (either by taking something home or through student led conferences). Encourage students to discuss with parents how they might continue to work on their goal at home.
- Teachers who are using MAP data as part of the SLO process can share the Student Goal Setting Worksheet with parents. They can have students bring it home with a note explaining the importance of working on their personal goals, and/or review the worksheet at parent conferences. They can also give parents specific recommendations of ways to help their child work on those goals. For instance, they might consider sharing the RIT to Resource If teachers have a class website or message board, they might also consider posting some examples of home activities there, with an indication of which skills each activity can help students develop.
3. What are some things teachers can do to help ensure they’re on track (or help get back on track)?
Because SLOs are often set for the whole year, one of the most important but often overlooked keys to success for teachers is breaking down those big-picture goals into tangible mini-goals. To do this, teachers can ask themselves: If I want to see this kind of student growth from my class by the end of the year, what do I need to do each month? Those monthly mini goals might involve professional development, resources, time with a literacy/math coach, support from a grade-level PLC team (to share tips with those working on similar goals), and more.
Teachers can also benefit from checking on progress mid-way—something district SLO templates rarely require. Without planning this checkpoint systematically, it can be difficult to have a clear picture of whether or not the class is on track. For teachers who are using MAP metrics in their SLOs, the winter MAP assessment can serve as this kind of progress check; they can use their results to feel more in control and find time to course-correct before the end of the year if needed.
However, the mid-way checkpoint and teachers’ mini-goals should NOT be used as part of an evaluation process. Rather, these are most helpful when used in a formative way by teachers to stay focused on the SLOs throughout the year and make instructional adjustments as necessary. The role administrators and coaches can play at this point is to help teachers gauge what additional support they may need in order to keep moving toward those goals.
By the way, if MAP is part of your SLO process and you’d like help choosing the right metrics and setting appropriate targets given your local context, onsite professional learning options are available to support your staff in making these important decisions. Onsite data coaching is fully customizable and a great option for helping you get strategic with your SLOs and your growth data. To learn more, simply have your MAP Coordinator reach out to your Account Manager or call 866-654-3246.