by Susan M. White
Student learning is the ultimate measure of the success of a teacher, school leader, or school district. The goal of the new Teacher and Leader Keys Evaluation Systems is to examine not only teacher/leader practice but to consider how teacher/leader effectiveness impacts student growth and academic achievement
One component of the newly piloted Teacher and Leader Keys Evaluation System in the state of Georgia is Student Growth and Academic Achievement. For teachers of tested subjects, this component consists of a student growth percentile measure. Tested subjects include Reading, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies for grades 4-8 and all high school courses for which there is an End-of-Course Test (EOCT).
Non-tested subjects include all courses not listed above as tested subjects. Approximately 70-75% of all teachers in Georgia teach non-tested subjects. For teachers of non-tested subjects, this component consists of Georgia Department of Education-approved Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) utilizing district-identified achievement growth measures.
District determined SLOs are content-specific, grade level learning objectives that are measurable, are focused on growth in student learning, and are aligned to curriculum standards. As a measure of teachers' impact on student learning, SLOs give educators, school systems, and state leaders an additional means by which to understand, value, and recognize success in the classroom. Used as one of the student achievement components of Leader Keys Evaluation System, the model will provide information on how much student growth occurred in the school cumulatively over the course of an academic year.
The primary purpose of SLOs is to not only measure but to improve student achievement at the classroom level. The process of setting and using SLOs requires teachers to use assessments to measure student growth. For each course, pre and post assessments are used to measure student learning of the chosen course standards. Appropriate measures of student learning gains differ substantially based on the learners' grade level, content area, and ability level. Therefore the type and format of assessments are designed or selected so that student progress on the standards may appropriately be measured. In addition, when districts determine their SLOs for non-tested subjects, growth targets for each student are set which measure student achievement over the instructional period of each course.
Research has found that educators who set high quality objectives often realize greater improvement in student performance. This approach will require unprecedented collaboration between state leaders, district leaders and local school staffs around student achievement. All of this is in an effort to ensure that every child in Georgia has a highly effective teacher every year.