Teacher Evaluation: The Student Learning Objectives (SLO) Monstrosity Looms Over Teachers and Principals

The psychometricians, the economists and academics argue “for” or “against” measuring teachers by student test scores. Bruce Baker , Jesse Rothstein , Aaron Pallas  have all railed against the use of student test scores to judge teachers. The scores are “unstable (vary widely from year to year)” and fail tests of “validity and reliability.”

In New York State twenty percent of the score will be student test scores, twenty percent a locally negotiated measure and sixty percent supervisory observations.

See model evaluation plans here: http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/plans/home.html

Only twenty percent of teachers will be measured by state tests, others by district created student learning objectives (SLO). In some schools/school districts a standards movement ago, teachers were required to write learning and behavioral objectives for each lesson, Student Will Be Able To (SWBAT). A learning objective: 3/4 of the class will be able to list three causes of the French Revolution, and a behavioral objective, 95% of the class will arrive on time.

As with most  externally imposed “innovations” it faded away.

Student Learning Objectives will “measure” student “learnings” over the school year.

To further complicate an already complex matter teachers in secondary schools frequently teach more than one subject.

The State has established a 50% Rule: Watch the video explanation here: http://engageny.org/resource/student-learning-objectives-the-50-rule-for-teachers

The State has produced a 37-page guidance document: read here: http://engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/slo-guidance.pdf

A webinar explaining SLOs for entire schools or groups of teachers here: http://engageny.org/resource/school-wide-slos

An SLO template and an example here: http://engageny.org/resource/new-york-state-student-learning-objective-template

Exemplar SLOs from a wide range of grades and subject areas here: http://engageny.org/resource/student-learning-objective-models-from-new-york-state-teachers

A completed SLO for a high school Global Studies teacher here: http://www.bscsd.org/files/filesystem/Global%20SLO%2006.29.12.pdf

In Regents-tested subjects the district will administer a “regionally developed pre-assessment test using Regents sample questions” and the teacher will be measured against expected outcomes on the June Regents exam.

While one teacher in a fourth grade classroom is being measured by a statewide standard the teacher next door in a second grade class is being measured with a district-created SLO. How will the high wealth, high achieving district teachers be measured against the low wealth, low achieving district teachers? Does a highly effective teacher score in an East New York teacher classroom equate with a teacher in Scarsdale? Will teachers/schools create low bars to increase the chances of showing progress?

What if the class is a first period with very high lateness and absenteeism? Or, a class of students who have already failed the Regents at least once?

Will the SLOs be created by each teacher in consultation with their supervisor, groups of teachers teaching the same subjects? Will entire schools create school-wide SLOs? Will the Department of Education provide lists of SLOs from which teachers select?

Would it make sense to “discourage” the kids on the pretest and strongly “encourage” on the post test, the summative test?

Will time and guidance be provided to create SLOs?

And probably a long list of questions that I haven’t even thought of.

The “experts” continue to wrangle over whether or not a regression analysis formula can accurately predict expected outcomes with a wide range of variables.

No one seems to be discussing the complexities of the Student Learning Objective creation process that will impact eighty percent – that is four out of every five teachers in New York State.

And let us not forget the principals, their ratings are basically the sum total of the teacher ratings in the school.

Maybe Mary Shelly caught the essence of the SLO creation/application process,

“‘All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, they creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.'”

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2 responses to “Teacher Evaluation: The Student Learning Objectives (SLO) Monstrosity Looms Over Teachers and Principals

  1. Pingback: Remainders: Those “informational texts,” direct from the source | GothamSchools

  2. Pingback: Teacher Evaluation: A View from the Field | Ed In The Apple

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