I've been thinking a lot lately about Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and the upcoming workshop we're leading on them. I feel awesome about the work you and I have been doing on creating teaching goals that really reflect on the needs of our students and reaching meaningful outcomes. I feel more prepared to start a school year than I ever have before. That's awesome!
But I went to a meeting yesterday where the topic of SLOs came up. We got notes from a powerpoint that tried to outline the percentages that each goal is related to and what the expectations are. I was thoroughly confused by all of the info presented and then a piece of info came out that made me pretty uncomfortable:
Every middle school teacher in my entire district is going to have the same SLO!
Each department will have it's own version of the SLO, but they will all focus on ELA, and essentially the goal will be the same. The ELA will be the benchmark pre-assessment, and we should just "roll with it" (even the math teachers who don't get to have a math related goal should follow suit!). The argument for this is that the admins hope it will be "easier" and "more efficient" to get through writing SLOs if we do this. I questioned whether efficiency through standardization was really best practice, but I don't think I got too far with the idea.
So this leaves me with so many questions. Maybe you can share what you know from your district to help me wrap my head around this.
- What is the actual goal of a SLO? Is it about student learning or is it about checking boxes on an evaluation form?
- Are other districts approaching SLOs this way? Do all of the 3rd grade teachers at your school have to have the same SLO? Do all of the math teachers at your high school have the same SLO? Is it the same as the SLO the science, English, art, or foreign language teachers have?
- Can content area teachers create a SLO related to their individual content? My principal is under the impression that any SLOs not focusing on ELA or math will be "rejected by the state".
- Can the state really reject an SLO? Who is sitting in Albany checking every SLO for every teacher in the state?
- How does our workshop goal of "developing an SLO that is meaningful to you" and "developing an assessment plan that works for your classroom" match up with a district wide mandated SLO? Did we miss the point?
- Have I stepped into crazy town?
You always seem to "get it" when we're talking about state mandates. Can you help me understand?
Your confused friend,