Updated SLO Resources and Guidance

The SLO committee met again on Tuesday, 9/27, and we discussed several issues.  Below you will find documents that we used and agreed represented the best approach to developing SLOs in AOS 98.  Many of the documents come from the Rhode Island Department of Education, a state that has been using SLOs for over 10 years.  These documents are well written and reflect our understanding of the best way to maximize the educational value of SLOs.

Some of this guidance is different from last year and reflects all of our evolving understanding of how to use this approach.  The changes also reflect a desire to accomplish several other outcomes to address issues shared by many of you and the committee.

These outcomes include

  • Tying the SLO process to other work being accomplished by educators.
  • Making the SLO process authentic and reflect the actual work of teaching and learning being accomplished in classrooms.
  • Minimize the redundancy of the process.
  • Maximize the possibilities for improving student learning.

It is understood that it will take a couple more cycles of SLO development to incorporate these approaches and  changes.  Both administrators and teachers have begun the process for the fall.  It is not expected that approved SLOs should be changed.  In those cases, accomplish these changes in the second SLO of the year.  However, if you have yet to develop your SLO then review the overview at the beginning of the following sections.

Each section corresponds to the template shared with staff  and again here: slo-development-template-2.  The sections begin with a short synopsis of changes and then documents that provide further guidance, examples, or clarification.

Baseline Data or Trend Data

This is one of the areas where the thinking of the group has changed and evolved.

  • This step should be used to identify data and understandings teachers have of their students that will allow them to make reasonable projections of the growth that students can accomplish on the learning outcomes.  It should provide guidance to differentiate for your students around the learning targets.  It can include a range of data: qualitative, quantitative, observations, past performance in the discipline, etc.  For a description of the types of data go here.
  • In some situations the suggestion of using a pre-test makes sense.  However in many cases a pre-test is inappropriate, distressing for students, a squandering of instructional time, or of limited value.  For a full description of when to use and when not to use a pre-test go here.  It is safe to say that for most SLOs a pre-test is not the best method to set baselines for students.
  • Further information and specifics can be found here:7_using-baseline-data-and-information_7-15-13

Student Cohort

The guidance around student cohorts is similar to last year for most educators.  However for non-instructional positions or specialists there are some recommendations.  The cohort should reflect the students affected by your position and job descriptions.  Which students do you affect with your practice?   Which of these students are you trying to change outcomes for in your day-to-day work?  These are  the students that non-classroom based teachers should be considering when choosing their cohort and their targets for learning (learning here encompassing any type of outcome, intellectual, social, emotional, or behavioral).

Cohorts can be made up of single individuals targeted for individual growth, entire classrooms, or even a school body.

For examples of how to approach targets and cohorts in specialist positions review the following documents and review the many example SLOs for specialists at the end of this post.

Standards and Learning Content/ Student Learning Objective Statements

The recommendation here is to choose standards and outcomes that are meaningful enough and important enough to accomplish the following goals:

  • They should improve student learning on critical grade level or content area outcomes.  At the elementary level they should be critical enough that student failure would impact their progression or readiness for other grade level outcomes or their preparedness for the next grade.  In middle school and high-school these standards and statements should be linked to graduation and proficiency standards.
  • They should be important enough to make reteaching, in the event of failure, an easy decision to make.  When considering standards and statements, find outcomes that you need every student to accomplish for the next steps in their learning progressions.
  • These standards and statements would rarely be tied to a single standard in the content area, but should include statements and many standards accomplishing a much broader outcome.  For instance in the ELA common core standards, outcomes at the level of the anchor standards are appropriate while the grade level specific targets may be too limited.
  • Completed units in ATLAS should be attached to support these sections and the final section on instructional approaches.

For examples and further guidance  of standard selection and SLO statements

Indicators of Academic Growth & Growth Targets

The recommendations around setting growth targets are:

  • Targets should be rigorous but realistic for the instructional period.
  • Targets should be meaningful enough that student failure would require reteaching.
  • Be closely tied to the reporting we do on progress reports, report cards, or proficiency standards.
  • Differentiated for students in the cohort based on the baseline data collected.
  • Defined at the same level of rigor as the standards.  Guidance on determining rigor using DOK can be found here, scroll to the bottom of that post under further information.
  • Can be the goals on student IEPs for identified students.

The instructional period required to accomplish the growth targets can also provide an indicator of the both the importance of the target and its’ rigor.  If the growth target can be met in only a few weeks, it is unlikely to be either rigorous enough or important enough to justify building and planning an SLO around.

Further guidance and recommendations can be found here:

Instructional Strategies

These can be captured in your ATLAS map and do not have to be re-entered on the template.  They should align and be differentiated when appropriate based on the cohort chosen for the SLO.

Tools for Reviewing SLO quality

Examples of Completed SLOs for Content Areas and Grade Levels

Teachers- PreK

Teachers – Elementary

Teachers – Middle School

Teachers – High School

Teachers – Special Educators

Examples of Completed SLOs for Specialists


Middle School:

High School:


About shawncarlson

Assistant Superintendent
This entry was posted in AOS 98, Assessment, Instruction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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