We have always cared about our students’ growth. If we didn’t care about that, then we probably weren’t doing our jobs.
We’re quickly nearing that time when all things TPEP “go live” and are real for all of us. Many districts have invested time, training, and honest effort into preparing teachers for this coming moment, and I’m hoping that it will pay off.
As I shared here, my growth toward understanding student growth took time. I needed the past two years of learning to really get to a point where I now feel like it all makes sense. Best of all, the way my district has implemented, I know that even if I stumble, need to change course, or decide to make revisions, this is actually a valued step in the process, not a sign of ineffective teaching.
What I’ve learned:
First and foremost: students achieving standard and student growth are not the same thing. Growth is about every kid making appropriate movement toward a goal–not every kid scoring X on an assessment. This is why the old SMART goals of “85% of my period 5 will score 80% or better on the chapter test” doesn’t cut it here. Instead, it is about moving every kid toward higher proficiency at a skill, not just a higher score on a test. The challenge for me is actually with my high-fliers…those kids who come in not only ready to learn but with high skills. Growth (for me) has always been easier to cultivate with kids who have a long way to go. This system reminds me that I still need to foster growth for those kids who enter at or above standard already.
As important: growth and grades should be two different things. This is a hard one for many high school teachers. We work with proficiency scales to describe growth, and so often I get the question “How do I convert my scale to a grade? Is a 4 an A, 3 a B and so on?” This is a major shift: growth monitoring and grades communicate two different things. The grade is how many baskets you can sink in a game, the growth monitoring is when the coach keeps track of your shooting form and gives feedback on how to improve. My answer to the conversion question? You don’t convert a scale to a grade…they are two different things.