Saturday, February 2, 2013

Classroom Learning Communities: SMART Goals

Establishing the remaining components of the classroom learning community relies heavily on this next component: SMART Goals. Establishing goals communicates direction and drives improvement. SMART Goals are created based on baseline data and are then monitored on classroom data centers, in student data folders, during classroom meetings, and discussed at Student Led Conferences.

Our mantra is, "What gets measured, gets done." That is, whatever is most important and valued in our system is what is monitored and tracked. To ensure alignment, the Dunlap Grade School Building Leadership Team met prior to the start of the school year to review our school data to determine areas for improvement or opportunities for improvement. This is done through a review of academic data, perception or survey data, and staff input. Furthermore, these goals are aligned to district level goals to ensure our systematic alginment.

As school goals are created, these are communicated through the school data center, staff meetings, and during PLCs. Grade level and content area PLCs then work with each other and their students to determine classroom and student goals related to the building goals. SMART Goals aren't just arbitrary goals that are written and displayed. The formula that applies to SMART Goals is suggested through its acronym:

S: Specific or Strategic
M: Measurable
A: Attainable
R: Realistic or Reasonsable
T: Time Bound or Timely

The closer the goal gets to the student, the more specific. To cite Dunlap examples,

District: Continuously improve student growth and achievement

Dunlap Grade School: All DGS students will read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension as evidenced by all students meeting grade level targets on bi-weekly reading assessments.

As seen below, students at DGS averaged just 83.3% of students meeting the goal at the start of the year. We are now at 95.7%. This is in large part to a school-wide focus on reading comprehension and reading instruction.

DGS 2nd Grade Classroom (on a classroom data center): All students will score an 85% or above on bi-weekly theme tests by the end of 2nd quarter. These goals are monitored by the whole class and discussed at classroom meetings. Quality tools can be used to review progress, engage students in problem solving, and enhance the critical conversations that need to occur for improvement to take place.

DGS 2nd Grade Student (in a student data binder): I will score an 85% or above on the comprehension component of the theme tests by the end of 2nd quarter.

SMART Goals can be developed to meet any building or district's needs based on data. Additional goals can be developed for social-emotional learning, development of 21st century skills, implementation of curriculum or initiatives, the use of technology, and more. Goals can and should be developed for teacher teams as well as for students. The importance of setting goals is to ensure they are meaningful, measurable, and have built in accountability. AT DGS, we align our 3 building goals to the 5 district goals. Classrooms typically have 2-3 goals they are monitoring continuously. Measuring the "big rocks" and keeping it streamlined can ensure that staff, students, and families can invest in the goals without becoming overwhelmed or confused.

The continuation of this series of blog posts will share insight into how these goals are monitored in classroom data centers, student data folders, at class meetings and in student led conferences.

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