Monday, September 23, 2013

SGOs and SBG, Perfect Together!

The new school year is off and running. We are beginning to dig deeper into the CCSS in my math classes, along with attempting to blend technology into my lessons when appropriate. Also, we are continuing to learn more about the implementation of the new PARCC assessments. Lastly, our district is beginning to implement the state required Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) for all teachers. It can all seem like a big bowl of alphabet soup after awhile.

The addition that will impact instruction the most, in my opinion, is teachers starting to use SGOs. The idea behind the SGOs is for teachers to focus on the growth of the students towards a particular objective or standard. First, teachers are asked to provide a pre-assessment to determine where the students currently are with their understanding of the concept. Once the teacher has scored the pre-assessment, he or she can begin to create a growth scale to get the class moving in the right direction. The role of the teacher is to now focus on the  instruction to reach the above mentioned goal. The teacher can determine the current level of the class by providing frequent formative assessments. Still need to improve? Challenge yourself to use alternate methods to improve student achievement.

The great part of this is that the teacher is focused solely on learning. The teacher can not stick with the old school view of "I taught it, so they should understand it." Since the teacher is focused on the learning of the students, he or she will attempt several methods of instruction to guarantee the students are reaching proficient on the standard. All the teacher is concerned with is the success of the students. This sounds exactly like the  kind of classroom I would like my own kids to be members of.

I believe the impact SGOs will have on instruction in the classroom will lead to more teachers heading towards Standards Based Grading. The framework for SBG is imbedded in the SGO process: Teachers must focus solely on the students learning, not what their percent grade is currently. If the students are not getting it, the teachers must try alternate methods to get the students to grow. This is the main concept behind SGB as well. How do teachers determine if the students are getting the concept? Simply put, we must use formative assessments more. This will provide feedback for teachers to gauge the growth of the students. Ideally, this information can provide areas or students to focus on to maximize the growth of each individual student. Getting the students to actually get a concept, what a novel idea!

What better way to have students work towards mastering a concept than to provide multiple attempts at learning? The idea of retakes and redoes is at the core of SBG. These retakes give students a chance to learn from their mistakes and make corrections to improve. The idea behind this is that students must continually work on improving towards a specific goal or standard. It is almost like these two were made for each other.

I do not know if the state thought about this when requiring SGOs in every class, but I think they have made a huge impact on changing teachers' instruction. Focusing on if the students are learning should be the only thing we pay attention to. If done correctly, the usage of SGOs could have greatest impact on instruction in my career. I wonder if the state knew what they were doing...

Anyone else have thoughts on this? Please let me know...

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