Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Doing it the Right Way!

Call me a dreamer, call me anything you want but I see no purpose in doing things (even if ultimately I think they are flawed) only to get them done.  Educator Effectiveness (EE) is a perfect example of a major opportunity to just check something off the list and have it not affect student performance.

I am not sure I totally agree with the premise behind Educator Effectiveness.  I am sure I disagree with the time commitment necessary to do it because every minute spent on it is another minute spent away from kids.  However, be that as it may it is a state mandate and optional was not a word I read anywhere.  We have spent a decent amount of time talking about Student Learning Outcomes (SLO's) and choosing SLO's that will be manageable but more importantly have an opportunity to not only affect our instruction but student learning.  Several schools are deciding to use purchased screeners such as SMI, AIMSweb, MAPS or STAR.  The problem with each one of them is we didn't write them.  We don't control what is on them and we have zero control over the rigor.  All of them are multiple choice and therefore will give the teacher no information on how deeply a student understands a concept.  The CCSS is very clear that students not only need to conceptually understand a topic but also need to be able to apply it.  

So back to our SLO's.  So far I can say I am proud of our PLC's.  Each PLC, after lots of thought and debate have chosen to assess prerequisite skills necessary for success and either student understanding of a major concept of overall understanding of the core concepts needing to be learned in class.  Why are these important?  First, we will know what information our students are coming in with and creating interventions to meet the needs of those who struggle and those who need a greater challenge.  Ensuring that all students know the prerequisite skills (I would rather call them prerequisite understandings) will pay major dividends throughout the year.  Secondly, having an emphasis on concept proficiency is an easy goal since that is the same goal we have each year.  However, this focus has many byproducts.  For example, what is proficiency?  At what level of rigor?  Should they have to explain their solution?  Should it be applied?  When should proficiency be determined?  The discussions extending from this SLO are changing instruction and assessment for the better every day.  

Ideally, one would think that these discussions should happen regardless and I would totally agree.  What I know is we don't control what makes something important to one person and not to another.  We also don't exactly know what is going to make someone change their ways and analyze how they are going about their instruction.  I do know that if I do my best with everything, never just trying to check it off a list eventually, I will find something that is that right trigger for everyone.