In our first blog in our three-part series – Defining Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and How to Start Creating Them – we took a detailed look at what SLOs are and the initial process involved in creating them. In part two – The Different Types of Data Needed to Set Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) – we shared some sources of baseline and trend data that educators use to set SLOs. In our final post in the series, we’ll address the different types of growth targets.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does a great job breaking down five types of growth targets – Basic Growth Targets, Half-the-Distance Growth Targets, Tiered Growth Targets, Advanced Tiered Growth Targets, and Fully Individualized Growth Targets. We’ll reference these growth targets here in this post.
- Basic Growth Targets – These are the simplest and most straight-forward of our growth targets; however, they may not be the most appropriate depending on the classroom. To calculate a basic growth target, you simply determine how much growth the student(s) should accomplish and add that to their pre-test scores. This new score becomes the growth target. However, given how much diversity there can be in baseline scores from one student to the next, basic growth targets may not be appropriate for all students.
- Half-the-Distance Growth Targets – These growth targets are also easy to calculate, and as the name suggests, are the mean between the pre-test score and the maximum possible score on that test. The formula Missouri uses is:
Target = (Max Possible Score + Pre-test Score) / 2
Like basic growth targets, however, half-the-distance targets do not take into consideration individual student data and limit the growth of high-performing students.
- Tiered Growth Targets – For these growth targets, a teacher groups students together based on their pre-assessment scores and then assigns a post-test target for each group. Some assessments actually do the grouping for you, which makes tiered growth targets fairly simple to create. The real problem with tiered growth targets is that students who are in a particular group, but near the lower cut line will be more challenged to meet their targets than other students in their group, and those near the higher cut line will not be challenged enough.
- Advanced Tiered Growth Targets – Similar to tiered growth targets, advanced tiered growth targets solve the near cut line problem mentioned above by assigning a variable growth target depending on where in the group the student is by score. While teachers can more easily differentiate instruction with advanced tiered growth targets, they are more complex to develop.
- Fully Individualized Growth Targets – Just as the name implies, fully individualized growth targets are set on a student-by-student basis to account for varied needs. Depending on the size of the class and the number of students for which a teacher is responsible, fully individualized growth targets can be the best way to go or overly time consuming. There is also the need for sound rationale for assigning growth targets. Without this, there is a risk of assigning low growth targets for underperforming students.
We hope our blog series has helped provide a basic understanding of student learning objectives (SLOs), how to start developing them, what data should be considered to create a balanced set of growth targets, and the types of growth targets that most teachers use.