The Art and Science of Student Learning Objectives: A Research Synthesis

Student learning measures have rapidly become common in teacher evaluation systems across the United States. Over half of the country’s states have required, recommended, or identified “student learning objectives” (SLOs) as a measure of student growth for use in educator evaluation. Although SLO-type measures vary significantly in terms of scope, stakes, scoring, and use of assessment, all SLO measures require a combination of analysis and professional judgment.

This report provides an overview of key findings from the nearly 20 studies of SLO measures that have been conducted to date, along with considerations for future research and for practice. The highlighted studies largely focus on early implementation, examining implementation challenges, educator perceptions of SLO effects on teacher practice, SLO quality and attainment over time, and  correlations between SLOs and other educational outcomes.