Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Student Growth Objectives - SMART Goals Without the Collaboration?

The new teacher evaluation plan in NJ and other states across the country are including a measure of student performance called "Student Growth Objectives"

Below is an excerpt from the NJ Department of Education regarding SGO's.
Student Growth Objectives (SGO's) are academic goals for groups of students that are aligned to state standards and can be tracked using objective measures. As part of the student achievement component of evaluation under AchieveNJ, each teacher sets SGOs with input and approval from his or her principal or supervisor at the start of the year. Specifically, teachers and principals /supervisors are expected to collaborate around the instructional content that will be covered and the skills and knowledge that will be measured. SGOs should be developed using available student data and created to be ambitious but achievable.


The focus of the SGO's are on student achievement, but the primary conversation at various training sessions is on teacher accountability. The literature provided  is focused  on collaboration between individual teacher and administrator to create, implement, and measure the results of an SGO.

Over the past decade we have been introduced to the concept of professional learning communities (PLC's). An effective PLC  is a collaborative effort between a team of educators with a common interest in student learning. The team will first understand their current reality, establish a SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely), establish a plan and an assessment to implement, measure, and discuss the results of progress and incorporate instructional strategies to improve student achievement.

The significant difference between an SGO and a Smart Goal, as presented by state organizations, is the use of collaborative teams.  The value of SMART  goals and PLC's  is the discussion, collaboration, and sharing. Collaborative SGO's  would involve a group of teachers working  together to understand their student  strengths and weaknesses, development of  a goal for improvement, establishing  a common assessment to measure their goal and working  together to discuss strategies, interventions, and curriculum design to reach their goal.

PLC's have proven to be an effective tool for increasing student achievement. The power of a collaborative effort will out perform individual effort when implemented correctly. Given the demands of teaching, time constraints, and limited availability of professional development it only makes sense to have teachers working together to increase student achievement.

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