In a compliant-focused approach, districts look at the SLO process through an efficiency model – How can we get this done as quickly and pain free as possible? In this model, districts focus on finding loop-holes or quick-fixes. They typically want to ‘just get it done’ so they can focus on what they consider to be more important or urgent matters. Districts that are focused on getting it done as easily as possible often focus their implementation efforts on the following:
- Using pre-made SLOs (which are becoming increasingly available via the internet)
- Identifying an individual or committee to write SLOs for all teachers
- Assigning the same SLO to all teachers
In a quality-focused approach, districts recognize that SLOs can empower teachers to understand the relationship between their teaching and student learning. They embrace the local control of these assessments and recognize the value of having each teacher, individually or collaboratively, fully engage in designing, building and reviewing SLOs. They recognize that the process will be messy and time-consuming. But they are willing to invest time to this process because they consider it to be a form of meaningful professional learning. Districts that view the SLO process as a catalyst for professional learning focus their implementation efforts on:
- Creating an SLO Leadership Committee that represents central office, principals, and teachers. Rather than writing SLOs for their teachers, this committee focuses on creating expectations, supports, and timelines that will guide and support teachers in writing their own SLOs that are aligned to district goals.
- Analyzing school-wide and grade level data to determine how the SLO process can support large scale needs while still meeting the needs of individuals
- Designing a meaningful professional learning plan to support all teachers and principals throughout the entire SLO process.
Rather than arguing over which path to take, compliance-centered or meaning-centered, my point is this – Know which path you’re taking and then plan accordingly. If you want compliance, then don’t expect meaningful professional learning or implementation. And if you assume a meaning-centered approach, then provide the time and support necessary to accomplish this goal. Which path will you take?