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Anna Kuperman: SLOs are Unfair to Teachers and Students

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Student Learning Objective (SLOs) measure how much a student improves over a period of time in a particular class based on an assessment given at the beginning, middle and end of the year. SLOs count for the majority of a teacher’s evaluation. If a teacher does not show that her student’s have improved, then she is deemed ineffective. The use of SLOs is unfair, inequitable and unproven and therefore a false measurement of a teacher’s effectiveness.

Connecting SLOs with punitive measures in the teacher evaluation model creates enormous amounts of stress for teachers. It demoralizes teachers by forcing us to spend inordinate amounts of unpaid time on a task that has not been proven to improve student performance.

SLOs take away from instructional time with students. Writing SLOs takes away from proven methods that raise student achievement: planning time, grading, writing recommendations, meeting with parents, and professional development (to mention a few of the after hours tasks that teachers complete because we know that these tasks improve our students’ learning and our teaching).

Teacher effectiveness should not be based on student’s ability to learn. Teachers cannot be held accountable for the injustices that students face—poverty resulting in not enough to eat, basic physical and mental health needs not being met, children taking on parental roles, educational budget cuts resulting in fewer services and programs for children. A myriad of issues outside a teacher’s control shape student results on assessments.

SLOs shift the focus from teaching and learning to data collection and evaluation. Principal and teacher time is disproportionately focused on SLOs. Students lose instructional time and are forced to take more tests that are not meaningful.

Administrators, teachers, and students deserve a fair, reliable evaluation system that provides teachers with meaningful feedback. SLOs should be removed from the teacher evaluation model. They have potential as a means of measuring student progress, but should not be used with punitive consequences for teachers.

Anna Kuperman has been an educator for 17 years, currently teaching English at Classical High School in Providence. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and is an active member of the Providence Teachers Union.

Related Slideshow:
SLIDES: Ranking the Highest Student Loan Default Rates in RI

The U.S. Department of Education announced the official FY 2011 two-year and official FY 2010 three-year federal student loan cohort default rates (CDR).

The national two-year cohort default rate rose from 9.1 percent for FY 2010 to 10 percent for FY 2011. The three-year cohort default rate rose from 13.4 percent for FY 2009 to 14.7 percent for FY 2010.

Below are the FY 2010 default rates for all post-secondary schools in Rhode Island listed with the Department of Education, from lowest default rates -- to the highest.  

Prev Next

# 19 Newport Hairdressing

FY 2010 Default Rate: 0

No. in Default: 0
No. in Repay: 12
Enrollment figures: 87
* Newport School of Hairdressing
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# 18 Brown University

FY 2010 Default Rate: 2%

No. in Default: 16
No. in Repay: 770
Enrollment figures: 8877
Prev Next

#17 Providence College

FY 2010 Default Rate: 2.2%

No. in Default: 17
No. in Repay: 772
Enrollment figures: 5912
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#16 Bryant University

FY 2010 Default rate: 3.4%

No. in Default: 26
No. in Repay: 759
Enrollment figures: 4118
Prev Next

#15 New England Tech

FY 2010 Default Rate: 3.8%

No. in Default: 63
No. in Repay: 1650
Enrollment figures: 4247
* New England Institute of Technology
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#14 RISD

FY 2010 Default Rate: 4.2%

No. in Default: 18
No. in Repay: 421
Enrollment figures: 2605
* Rhode Island School of Design
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#13 Roger Williams

FY 2010 Default Rate: 5.2%

No. in Default: 60
No. in Repay
Enrollment figures: 5433
* Roger Williams University
Prev Next

#12 Salve Regina

FY 2010 Default Rate: 5.6%

No. in Default: 30
No. in Repay: 530
Enrollment figures: 3098
Prev Next

#11 St. Joseph - Nursing

FY 2010 Default Rate: 6%

No. in Default: 2
No. in Repay: 33
Enrollment figures: 114
* St. Joseph School of Nursing
Prev Next

#10 URI

FY 2010 Default Rate: 6.9%

No. in Default: 182
No. in Repay: 2626
Enrollment figures: 19200
* University of Rhode Island 
Prev Next


FY 2010 Default Rate: 7.1%

No. in Default: 1
No. in Repay: 14
Enrollment figures: 47
* International Yacht Restoration School
Prev Next

#8 RIC

FY 2010 Default Rate: 9%

No. in Default: 137
No. in Repay: 1511
Enrollment figures: 10976
* Rhode Island College
Prev Next

#7 Empire Beauty-Warwick

FY 2010 Default Rate: 13.6%

No. in Default: 16
No. in Repay: 117
Enrollment figures: 261
* Empire Beauty School, Warwick Campus
Prev Next

#6 Johnson and Wales

FY 2010 Default Rate: 14.6%

No. in Default: 713
No. in Repay: 4873
Enrollment figures: 18,659
Prev Next


FY 2010 Default Rate: 14.7%

No. in Default: 141
No. in Repay: 954
Enrollment figures: 24352
* Community College of Rhode Island 
Prev Next


FY 2010 Default Rate: 18%

No. in Default: 100
No. in Repay: 553
Enrollment figures: 1046
* New England Tractor Trailer School
Prev Next

#3 Empire Beauty-Prov.

FY 2010 Default Rate: 19%

No. in Default: 33
No. in Repay: 173
Enrollment figures: 332
* Empire Beauty School, Providence Campus
Prev Next

#2 Toni & Guy

FY 2010 Default Rate: 22.2%

No. in Default: 2
No. in Repay: 9
Enrollment figure: 0
* Toni and Guy Hairdressing School
Prev Next

#1 Lincoln Tech.

FY 2010 Default Rate: 32.6% 

No. in Default: 1228
No. in Repay: 3765
Enrollment figures: 4730
* Lincoln Technical Institute 

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Odd Job

"...is an active member of the Providence Teachers Union"

Coupled with her stern look, intimidation seems to be the goal here.

Wuggly Ump

I certainly agree with your list of things teachers can't control. If parents are not providing basics at home, including support for the student and the teacher, the teacher can't be blamed for a failing student.

I must disagree with SLO's not being used to evaluate teachers performance and even punitive actions toward the teacher. If I look at a teacher's record and no one seems to be learning In the class, there is a problem. There should be improvement in most of the students.

How do you propose we assess teachers? If I have to expect do or redo a workers work every time, that worker doesn't work for me long. There is of course a learning curve, one can expect someone new to the job has to be acquainted with the working of the particular environment. That's why experience counts.

I have defended teachers in the past and will do so again, but don't tell me we can't determine if a teacher is effective or not, and there should be no repercussions if they're not doing the job. This is where the union should be policing itself. Ever notice how people will pay for a good product without complaint?

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