When Student Learning Objectives are used for evaluation purposes, all administrative actions with SLO attributes should be logged to ensure data integrity and establish an audit trail. When educators design and submit SLOs to their evaluator for approval, and again when they meet at mid-interval, there should be a clear audit trail showing that rosters have been validated, and assessments, algorithms, and targets have been officially approved. Changes made to any SLO attributes should be clearly logged in the database with a username and timestamp.

An SLO system utilized in educator evaluation must be legally defensible; accurate recordkeeping and provisions for ensuring data integrity are important elements of risk avoidance. A district’s data infrastructure should facilitate this level of accuracy and auditability.

5. Refine capabilities for advanced reporting.

Because Student Learning Objectives can be used for evaluation purposes, the system must provide options for creating SLO-level compliance reports for teachers, principals, district administrators or the state. Compliance reports allow for spot-checking of SLOs across schools and districts to ensure SLOs are being approved in a timely fashion, are aligned to targeted content, and are rigorous for all student populations.

Implementing ed-tech tools

As more states turn to Student Learning Objectives to measure student growth and use the results to calculate effectiveness ratings for educators, there is a rapidly growing need for ed-tech tools that can help educators streamline the SLO process. One tool districts are using to create, manage, and monitor SLOs is the SLO Module from Performance Matters. With this tool, educators can build or select the SLO assessment, choose the growth algorithm, set the target score for each student or group, and then access pre- and post-assessment results 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. These data then can be used to group educators into the appropriate ratings category on the SLO portion of their annual performance reviews.

Improving student achievement and focusing educator growth

Student Learning Objectives hold great promise for improving student achievement and focusing educator growth. They provide an opportunity for educators to participate in their own evaluations and for student growth to be incorporated into educator evaluations in non-tested grades and subjects. Developing a coherent infrastructure to manage, administer, and report SLOs will be essential to ongoing success as SLOs are brought to scale and integrated into assessment frameworks.

By developing solutions for tracking assessments and data, devising a method for managing data associations at scale, facilitating workflow processes that streamline management, creating an audit trail, and developing capabilities for advanced reporting, districts and states will be prepared with the infrastructure necessary to implement a successful SLO program.

Kimberly Fleming, Ph.D., is the author of a new white paper titled, “Technology Considerations for a Successful Student Learning Objectives Program.” She is president and founder of Core Education LLC, a consulting firm focused on educator effectiveness.