Four Maryland Districts Purchase Student Learning Objectives Module

Set to take effect this fall, Maryland’s new educator evaluation system specifies that student growth measures will account for 50 percent of a teacher’s or principal’s evaluation. Part of the new evaluation system requires the use of Student Learning Objectives (SLO) to gauge student growth. As a result, Maryland’s 24 school systems will be responsible for crunching the data for SLOs to determine if students achieved the academic goals set at the beginning of a course, and to determine an effectiveness rating for each teacher and principal as part of their annual evaluations.

To streamline the SLO process and ensure accurate calculations for effectiveness ratings, Maryland districts are turning to the SLO Module from Performance Matters. To date, Talbot County Public Schools, Dorchester County Public Schools, Caroline County Public Schools, and Anne Arundel County Public Schools have selected the SLO Module to assist in the creation, management and monitoring of SLOs.

Talbot County Public Schools began piloting SLOs during the 2012-13 school year and is gearing up for a full-scale implementation this fall. Beginning in 2013-14, each teacher will be responsible for writing SLOs to address the needs of individual students, groups of students, and/or classes. In turn, each school principal will be receiving SLO data from as many as 80 teachers, each with different rules and targets for student growth. The principals will then have to examine the data to determine whether or not each teacher met his or her SLOs.

“When our principals learned that the Performance Matters SLO Module will do all these calculations for them and immediately indicate whether or not teachers are meeting their SLOs, it was unanimous — everyone wanted it because they knew it would make their lives easier,” said Marnie Stockman, local accountability coordinator and mathematics K-12 coordinator for Talbot County Public Schools. “We also like the flexibility of the SLO Module. It doesn’t force everyone into following the same rules for measuring student growth or mastery. Instead, it lets teachers and principals decide what their priorities are and it shows the results accordingly. ”

In Maryland, SLOs may represent 20 to 35 percent of an educator’s evaluation, so accurate calculations are critical. Using the Performance Matters SLO Module, educators can access the target score and the results data from pre- and post-assessments for each student under each SLO. With the tool’s automatic calculations, they can see whether or not each student met the SLO, as well as the overall percentage of students achieving the SLO by class or by course. In addition, the SLO Module ensures accurate mathematical calculations, which principals can use to group teachers into the appropriate ratings category — highly effective, effective, or ineffective — on the SLO portion of their evaluations.

“Like Performance Matters’ other systems, the data and charts in the SLO Module are color-coded red, yellow and green, which makes it intuitive and easy for our teachers and principals to analyze the results,” said Stockman. “Performance Matters has also been really collaborative in developing the SLO Module to ensure we get exactly the type of product we need.”

The SLO Module is available as a stand-alone product, or may be integrated with the Performance Matters assessment and data management system or FASTe (Formative Action System for Teacher Effectiveness).