Skip Navigation

A Descriptive Study of the Pilot Implementation of Student Learning Objectives in Arizona and Utah

Region:
West
Description:
Approximately 30 states are now adopting teacher evaluation policies that include student learning objectives (SLOs), which are classroom-specific student test growth targets set by teachers and approved (and scored) by principals. Today state and district leaders are trying to determine the appropriate level of guidance and oversight to provide in support of this work. This study describes results of the pilot implementation of SLOs in two states—Arizona (with 363 teachers) and Utah (with 82 teachers)—that were implementing SLOs with the same aims: to positively affect student achievement and to fulfill the state's required student-accountability component for teacher evaluations. Findings indicated that, in their SLOs, Arizona teachers tended to target student proficiency growth on vendor-developed tests, without including any specifics about instructional strategies, while Utah's pilot teachers (over half of them special education teachers) tended to define their own SLO-focused instructional strategies and/or use their own classroom-level tests or rubrics, with goals geared toward students demonstrating knowledge (through project completion) or a physical skill. Arizona teachers' end-of-year SLO scores from their principals varied, distinguishing high- and low-performing teachers, and teachers with higher SLO scores were also rated higher on classroom observations and student surveys. Conversely, SLO scores varied little in Utah's pilot, with 89 percent of teachers meeting expectations." (Utah's pilot teachers were not rated on other measures.) On end-of-year surveys, Utah pilot teachers generally perceived the SLO process as worthwhile and beneficial to their students and to their own professional growth; however, they did not perceive the SLO pilot as positively affecting their instruction or their knowledge of effective ways to assess students. (A low response rate precluded parallel survey analysis in Arizona.)
Publication Type:
What's Happening
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
November 2015
Contact: