Quick! What do the following Student Growth Objective (SGO) goals have in common?
- Color theory
- Literature-based vocabulary
- Independent reading level
- Decimal fluency
- Elements of artistic design
- Internet search strategies
- Text-based essay questions
- Student choice
- Student-guided questioning
- Student-created rubrics
- Mindfulness and decision-making
- Letter/sound development
The answer? Art, primary reading, elementary writing, guidance, media, middle school mathematics and language arts are all included in the above list. What could they all possibly have in common?
All these student goal objectives are already part of the Common Core. Hopefully, every single one of my peers reading this can say the same thing about their own SGO.
But here’s an “ah-ha” moment I had while interviewing my fellow educators this month – did everyone except me know you can reuse your SGO from year to year since you have new students each year? This was brand new information for me and is now written all over my SGO folder to remind myself come June when we begin planning the next round. I highly recommend you do the same, since a resounding perk of required SGOs is focusing so intensely for so long you can really tweak them to perfection.
Learning new ways for students to recall and use information through interactive reviews, personal connections, quirky songs from YouTube and even sign language is the best professional advantage mentioned during all my interviews, but isn’t this more relevant to a professional development plan? Ugh.
And isn’t improving student skills part of our job description? Of course it is. If I had a quarter for each time a teacher said, “My SGO is something I am doing anyway,” I could do all my holiday shopping.
Coming in a close second was that all of this SGO paperwork is done on our own time. It is detailed and tedious and most of my peers agree cannot be done properly during a 40-minute prep period. Our SGOs seem to be a way to “prove” we’re doing our jobs and seem more like punishment instead of a way to measure student progress and inform instruction.
Other complaints include that student success rubrics are often very subjective, especially in the arts department. Ironically, our Core Curriculum encourages “student-created rubrics” and yet we have to scramble to find reliable assessments for our SGO.
But I preach to the choir. Complaining about our additional mountain of paperwork created by mandated SGOs is a waste of our valuable time. What advice can I offer?
First, be sure to write yourself a note to reuse your SGO. If you are like me, just figuring out the related Common Core objective numbers takes nearly half an hour. Then finding an assessment that most perfectly matches what you want to assess, even creating a spreadsheet of baseline date to pre- and post-tests. Imagine – you won’t have to reinvent the wheel each year!
Additionally, carefully decide on SGOs that include the largest amount of the core possible. I learned that lesson the hard way last year when I zoomed in too narrowly on a writing skill. Not only did I then have to dedicate an inordinate amount of instruction time to it, but the rubric I chose was too broad to measure such a finite skill.
Another idea a peer of mine had was to simply print out any lesson plans directly related to your SGO, and write yourself notes of improvement or new ideas to try. This seemed a lot more useful than most of the other paperwork involved in this process. I was inspired by peers who shared with me the new ways they’ve grown as educators as they perfected these lessons from last year. Highly effective, for sure.