An SLO is a “student learning objective,” yet another test that a teacher gives at the start of the year and then repeats at the end of the semester or end of the year to document that student learning has taken place. In some states now, the SLO has become part of teacher evaluations. A woman in Hawaii just lost her job because of her refusal to get involved in SLO testing. I have to say, I did not do my SLO this year. I knew I was going and, more importantly, I object to the whole concept. Too much rides on getting the right class. When I did my first SLO last year, I picked a group of college-bound juniors and seniors, instead of the bilingual students in all my other classes. I never finished the paperwork on that test because I transferred to another school in the district in the middle of the year, but sometimes I wish I had finished because I aced that SLO test. I had the right class. They were the cream of my high school and this was their first consumer math class. My students started knowing very little of the subject material and I had a whole semester to fill in what they regarded as useful knowledge. I had what I regard as a nearly perfect set up — and SLO’s are all about set up.
Multiple problems exist with SLO tests. If I teach nothing but that test all year I will succeed with my SLO. In terms of breadth of education, I may have taught damn near nothing except that test, however. The students in my classes are also critical to my potential success. In this time of SLO testing, I would never enter bilingual education. I have advised colleagues to exit bilingual education. How do I get the best score on my SLO test and therefore evaluation? I pick the strongest test takers available to me. All other factors being equal, my best bet will be to work with a group of college-bound students with a strong grasp of the fundamentals of the English language.
Eduhonesty: I am operating out of a suitcase right now, using my phone for posts. I promise I will fill in some details and documentation later. I just read the story about the woman in Hawaii yesterday, though, and I thought this might be a timely post. Our country’s leaders need to be clear that many very capable teachers may abandon our neediest schools if evaluations continue to be based on student performance. Wealthier districts not only pay better, they also deliver higher test scores most of the time. If I were starting over right now, I’d choose to work in a much different set of schools, schools where the children need me far less then they do in the district I just left.