Saturday, October 12, 2013

My 2013 SGOs

"Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) are academic goals for groups of students that are aligned to state standards and can be tracked using objective measures." AchieveNJ

Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) sound innocuous enough--who does not want a child to grow?

Here in New Jersey, a good chunk of my evaluation depends on how students perform on some set of objective standards I choose, so long as they are approved by my Supervisor and my Principal. I even get to negotiate the percent pass rate that constitutes success with my SGOs, which leads to some interesting game theory if nothing else, so who could possibly object?

I've been thinking long and hard about the SGOs since last spring, and while many of my colleagues are clenching their sphincters over this, I've decided to take the high road and spend another 40 to 60 hours of my time finessing this.

I agree with Chris Cerf, our esteemed Commissioner of Education. He once told over coffee (when he still talked to me) that he is a numbers man. I gleefully responded that, by golly, so am I!

I teach biology just outside Newark, NJ. One of my kids was astounded to learn that we have trees outside the school when I announced we were going outside to study them. Many, perhaps most, of my lambs never grew a plant from seed nor nibbled anything directly off a plant until they came to my class. Seems to me I have all kinds of growth objectives to choose from.

I will need, however, baseline data, because, by golly squared, we need data, and we need it now.  I used to be a pediatrician. I got skills and a few extra syringes around. I got kids who are amazed trees exist in our neighborhood. I got a Commissioner who hopes to take Arne's job away when his pal Christie slides into the White House in 2016. I am going to slay a whole flock of birds with one big chunk of rock.

Why waste time with hours of standardized testing when I can strap a child down and draw a few cc's of blood in less time than Mr. Cerf can say "Hotelling's two-sample T-squared statistics"? Expensive? Yep, but not any more expensive than the tests they replace, and the money stays local.

So here is my proposed SGO:
I will increase the number of students who gain joy by knowing that the natural world (or any world, for that matter) exists. 

Here is how I will obtain my objective data:

At least 80% of all students who failed to see the trees outside our school's doors will have at least a 20% rise (or 15 ng/mL, whichever is greater) in their measured serotonin levels when exposed to trees in May, 2014.

I'm going to walk away from this ed nonsense. And I may never come back....


Anonymous said...

Exactly how I feel. When does the nonsense end. :(

doyle said...

Nonsense will end sooner when we all start using our names....