Student Learning Objectives: Opportunities Abound

The underlying theme to Texas Education Agency’s Student Learning Objective (SLO) website is strengthening classroom instruction.  The three phase process mirrors continuous improvement as it includes goal setting, implementation, and reflection.

  • Phase 1: Create and SLO
  • Phase 2: Monitor Progress to Drive Instruction
  • Phase 3: Evaluate Success and Reflect

Before school begins, educators determine the focus for the SLO by first deciding the general content area for focus, then identifying the most important content in the course. This represents the first opportunity for Student Learning Objectives in a transformed learning environment.

Opportunity #1: The New Learning Standards (Identification of the SLO)

Article II: The New Learning Standards of the Visioning Document articulates the necessity for learning to be based on challenging, meaningful content standards that have been articulated, specified, and described PK-12.  These learning standards should extend beyond the state curriculum to include clarification/enhancement of the cognitive demand of the standards, supports for ensuring that students have access to the full content of the discipline, identification/clustering of “power” standards to ensure depth over breadth, and communicating linkages across disciplines.

District and campus leadership should support educators to consider the cognitive demand of the standards, narrow the focus to priority standards and make connections across disciplines.

Within the initial few weeks of school, the educator seeks to answer the question: Who are my students?  Once the educator describes typical students in the form of an Initial Skill Profile (ISP), they collect data on their students to map each to the skills on the profile.  This represents the second opportunity for Student Learning Objectives in a transformed learning environment.

Opportunity #2: Assessment for Learning (Collect Data to Connect to ISP)

Article III: Assessment for Learning of the Visioning Document emphasizes the importance of student voice in the assessment and data collection process.  Students are regularly and intentionally engaged in the planning, enactment, evaluation, and improvement of their learning opportunities.

When educators look to data to make decisions, connecting students’ skills to the ISP, they should be supported by district and campus administrators to look beyond state testing data alone.  Authentic work samples, organized into portfolios, provide educators with insight into student learning.

Next, the educators seek to answer the question: What are my expectations for these students?  Within this step includes the establishment of a target for each student covered in the SLO.  This represents the third opportunity for Student Learning Objectives in a transformed learning environment.

Opportunity #3: Assessment for Learning (Establishment of Target)

Again, Article III: Assessment for Learning of the Visioning Document includes the importance of student voice in the assessment and data collection process.  District supports such as goal-setting, self-monitoring tools, and instructional feedback forms, are developed and used.

Educators should empower students to take ownership of the goal-setting process.

Then, the educator makes plans to guide the students toward the growth as well as monitor their individual progress.  This represents the fourth opportunity for Student Learning Objectives in a transformed learning environment.

Opportunity #4: Accountability for Learning (Monitoring Progress)

We read in Article IV: Accountability for Learning in the Visioning Document of the importance of students regularly setting, monitoring, and using learning goals to assist them in self-managing their learning processes.

Related to student ownership of goal-setting is the incorporation of self-monitoring progress toward those goals.


These four opportunities are the first of many steps for districts to continue to transform schools environments and teaching and learning practices in light of the implementation of Student Learning Objectives.

Is your district moving forward with Student Learning Objectives?  In what ways are you ensuring continued progress toward transformed high quality educational experiences, through the lens of these SLOs?

Information for educators is provided in the Teacher Guide.

Information for administrators is provided in the Administrator Handbook.

My sketchnotes from a recent training on Student Learning Objectives are below.

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