Essential Components of Student Learning Objectives Implementation: A Practice Brief

Lisa Lachlan-Haché, Marina Castro, Lauren Matlach, and Ellen Cushing

Student learning objectives (SLOs) have become the preferred measure of student growth in many new systems of teacher evaluation and compensation. The SLO approach to measuring student growth is evolving and taking on new forms throughout the United States, and most states and districts would probably agree that SLO implementation is a challenging endeavor. From communicating business rules to monitoring systems for continuous improvement, Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) districts must anticipate needs, refine thinking, and deliver quality To support TIF districts in these critical steps, this document offers a framework for thinking strategically through the core components of SLO implementation.

This SLO practice brief builds upon a companion document titled Essential Components of Student Learning Objectives Implementation: A Checklist. Both documents aim to assist states and districts in the implementation of SLOs by providing practical steps for building a sustainable system of developing and measuring student growth.

The following implementation elements support rigor, comparability, and sustainability in the SLO process Each element is described in greater detail in the following pages:

  • Engage stakeholders and develop a vision of sustainability. Recognize that the use of SLOs may represent a shift in educator practice. To build a sustainable culture that supports implementation, consider the obstacles that lie ahead, develop teacher confidence in the SLO process, and create a coherent vision of the value of the SLO process in an effort to build a sustainable culture of SLO use.
  • Provide policies, examples, and resources. Effective implementation requires resources that promote rigor, consistency, and clarity across schools or districts.
  • Pilot and scale up with training and rater calibration. Offer ongoing training to assure rigor and consistency throughout schools and districts.
  • Communicate and monitor for continuous improvement. Monitor, triangulate, and communicate the implementation process to promote the rigor, discussion, and reflection that lead to insightful, systemic revisions.