Teachers take aim at SMART goalsIn a scene students across Hudson might have enjoyed, the principals at all eight buildings in the Hudson School District were called before the Board of Education to share their “report cards.”
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
In a scene students across Hudson might have enjoyed, the principals at all eight buildings in the Hudson School District were called before the Board of Education to share their “report cards.”
Each principal, along with staff members, had set goals for the 2008-09 school year, and they were at the School Board meeting earlier this month to report how they did. The results were impressive, for the most part, with five of the schools meeting or exceeding their goals and three schools coming within percentage points of their target. Charts that appear with this story (print version only, page 11A of the Aug. 27 edition) detail the results.
Regardless of whether they hit the target, went beyond it or fell short, principals unanimously praised the efforts made by their staffs, their students and parents for the progress they did make:
In addition, Lucas said that using common planning time, the biology teachers have developed and are using common assessments and tests to better track student learning.
SMART goals make sense
It has been Peg Shoemaker’s job to help the principals and their teachers set their SMART goals and put the system in place to make them happen.
Shoemaker is the associate director of Learning Services but she has also been a principal and a classroom teacher. She believes the district’s SMART goals initiative helps give instruction in the Hudson School District a “laser-like focus.”
“It is inspiring to see how SMART goals have improved student learning in the district, and we are just at the beginning. Our staff is just starting the process, but they are already seeing so many gains. It is kind of like building an airplane and learning to fly it all at the same time,” said Shoemaker.
Teachers just completed a SMART goal retreat in anticipation of the new school year. Shoemaker said teachers have embraced the process and are eager to put what they are learning into action. The key to the process appears to lay in collaboration and the establishment of common content and assessment. That means teachers work together to be sure they are teaching and testing for the same knowledge.
“It used to be that a teacher taught in isolation, but this changes that. With common planning time, teachers can together determine what they are teaching and how they will assess their students’ learning. It’s only through these common assessments that we can really see what students are learning and learn what really works in teaching them,” said Shoemaker.
At the elementary level, teachers now have designated common planning time at each grade level. They have already set SMART reading goals. The process will be expanded to writing and math as time goes on but Shoemaker says the reports by the principals show that the process is driving school improvement.
“We know more now than ever before what makes kids learn, the strategies that work best for all the different kinds of learners. With the common assessments, teachers are better able to hone in on what their students are doing and intervene with strategies that will help them.”
Shoemaker says that unlike standardized tests like the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Evaluation, the common assessments developed by teachers — while they are aligned with state standards — reflect what is going on in their classrooms and impact how teachers teach.
For more information about the SMART goal process and its application in the Hudson School District, contact Shoemaker at (715) 377-3705.