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May 16, 2014

District preps for SLO implementation

MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia is changing the way educators are rated through a new evaluation system with far greater emphasis on student performance.

Evaluations currently take into account classroom observations, job training and interaction with students, but they do not place a large percentage of weight upon student achievement.

The creation of a new evaluation system called the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System will place a higher percentage of weight upon student achievement, which will have a greater effect on a teacher's evaluation score.

This new evaluation system is mandated by Georgia's waiver from requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and its receipt of a $400 million federal Race to the Top grant.

As a measure of teachers' impact on student learning, students' test scores will count as 50 percent of teacher evaluation scores.

For teachers of tested subjects, this factor consists of a student growth percentile measure in subjects that require mandated standardized tests such as End of Course Tests (EOCT) or Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). For teachers of non-tested subjects, Student Learning Objective (SLO) assessments must be created and implemented. As a result, schools and districts will be responsible for analyzing data for SLOs to determine if students achieved the academic goals set at the beginning of a course, and to determine an effectiveness rating for each teacher and school leader as part of their annual evaluations.

The SLOs must be content-specific, aligned with curriculum standards and contain grade level learning objectives for each student so that measureable growth in student learning can be determined. Unlike state standardized tests, each student will have an individualized learning target and each district must establish its own specific learning target percentage.

Approximately 70 to 75 percent of all Georgia teachers — for at least part of the instructional day — teach subjects that are not assessed by state tests, according to the Georgia Department of Education. For each subject, an SLO must be created and approved by the state before the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

District preparation for implementation of SLO testing began May 5 and May 6. A group of Baldwin teachers representing each school as well as each grade level gathered at the board office on these two days to study sample SLO templates and create SLO assessments for each subject area. The sessions lasted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and were facilitated by Carol Goings, instructional specialist for the Baldwin County school system.

According to Dr. Sharon Simmons, assistant superintendent, the Baldwin County school district has 140 courses that are considered SLO courses.

Goings explained that the projected start date of SLO pretest assessment for students should fall between mid-August and mid-September with a post assessment in spring 2015.

"We accomplished a lot more than we anticipated during our work sessions," Goings said.

Teachers worked in a collaborative effort to make sure SLOs were aligned with subject standards.

"We had a fabulous team of teachers who came in and worked hard on this enormous task," she said.

The next step will involve approval and finalization of all tests by a state appointed Evaluations System Specialist. Goings said the specialist is scheduled to review the SLOs May 22. After approval, all SLOs will be submitted.

 

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