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Learning Goals

Challenging Learning Goals and Effective Feedback

Each child will have a greater opportunity to achieve academic success if they are appropriately guided, challenged and monitored. As teachers help their students set realistic and attainable educational goals and then consistently work to fulfill, refine and report on those goals academic achievement will increase.

What are Learning Goals (Targets)?

A student learning goal is a measurable, long-term student academic growth target that a teacher sets at the beginning of the year. These goals should demonstrate a teacher’s impact on student learning within a given interval of instruction based upon baseline data (Sequoia’s benchmarks) gathered at the beginning of the course (school year for elementary level). Each goal should include:

  • The student population or sample included in the goal;
  • The local, AZ and national standards the student learning goal will align with;
  • The assessments that will be used to measure student progress and goal attainment; these assessments should be authentic in nature (that is they measure what the student CAN do in a real life application (i.e. measure what the student can do as a result of instruction and learning the goal).
  • The period of time covered by the goal;
  • The expected student growth (or outcomes (i.e. What the student will be able to do as a result of instruction); and
  • The rationale (the why this is an important goal to work or design backwards from) for the expected student growth. See Also: Planning Backwards.
Design Backward, Deliver Forward

The student learning goal process documents for the organization what an effective level 3, 4, and 5 on our supervision and evaluation model teacher already does. Once we have collected this information it will be made available to all staff with hyperlinked resources that Sequoia will maintain.

A teacher determines where his/her students are at in the beginning of the term (benchmarks), teaches content, builds skills, offers formative and summative assessments, and determines student growth and proficiency at the close of the term. A highly effective teacher is one who knows his/her standards well, who collaborates around lessons and methods to meet the needs of the kids as he/she seeks to meet the standards, and who uses assessments that measure student growth and achievement of the standards.

Author’s Note: The link for summative assessments was purposely chosen as it discusses English as a second language which is extremely important in Arizona.

Highly recommended: See: PA Standards Aligned assessment creator for more. This program allows you to select the proper formative or summative (and diagnostic and benchmarked assessments) to create your formative and summative assessments. Sequoia provides benchmarks to its schools.

Also see: Authentic Alternative Assessments.

Teachers need to be able to defend and give rationale reasons for the work (daily and homework) and the reasoning for why they chose the assessments they use with their students.

The student learning goal (SLG) process meets the statutory requirement for “data from valid and reliable assessments aligned to state and local academic standards and must use state and local (Sequoia) measures of student growth include value-added models of student learning goals to determine 33 percent of teacher evaluation results.” This performance measure is also used for 301 monies.

Value-Added Models

Relationship to our Supervision and Evaluation Process:

For the Model, a teacher in level three – five sets up one to two student learning goals—a class goal and/or a targeted need goal, depending on the teacher group—for the student learning and achievement component.

A teacher in scoring in group one and two on the Sequoia Supervision and Evaluation Model for Teacher Effectiveness does not set a student learning goal they work WITH Master Teachers and their principal and adopt their jointly created learning goals. For more information about teacher effectiveness scores, see the Sequoia Supervision and Evaluation handbook for the model.

All teachers have shared performance goals set by Sequoia and outlined in Sequoia’s Supervision and Evaluation for Teacher Effectiveness. These effective teacher goals are designed to measures the student outcomes of the entire Sequoia organization.


Class Goals are long-term academic achievement goals or learning objectives aimed at a broad group of learners (such as third grade social studies, 4th period English or a counselor’s caseload).

Targeted Need Goals are long-term academic achievement goals or learning objectives aimed at a specific group of learners within a teacher’s class, course or program who are achieving below expectations (such as six students in a teacher’s third grade class who are struggling to read, or three students in a counselor’s caseload who are failing high school algebra, or two adults in a parenting class who are having difficulty disciplining their children).

This targeted goal allows teachers to focus on the type of content or skill that these targeted students need most. At Sequoia we allow teachers to use benchmarks aimed at the level that these targeted goals are set (Example: A fifth grader struggling in math may take a third grade benchmark if that is where their learning goals are appropriately measured). This is unlike the class goal, which applies to all learners across multiple levels of preparedness, a teacher chooses a single goal for learners at a low level of preparedness and is evaluated to the extent to which she meets this goal.

The class and targeted need goals must

  • Address one or more School based or AZ state standards covered by the teacher for that class, course or program
  • Reflect the identified student needs
  • Be specific and measureable (SMART) (Video of Smart Goals Here)
  • Be based on available baseline student learning data (Sequoia Benchmarks)

The class and targeted need goals are designed to measure a teacher’s direct impact on the achievement of groups of students within the classroom and the classroom as a whole.

TED talk on Individualizing in Schools: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley

Shared Performance Goals are student outcome goals for the whole student population (such as all students in a school or program). This goal is meant to directly align with school-wide goals developed by the leadership team and principal of a building. The shared performance goal must

  • Support one or more state standards including common core standards or college-career readiness standards
  • Reflect student needs
  • Be specific and measureable
  • Be based on available baseline student data

This must be a student-outcome goal (i.e. A high school might choose: our graduation rates will increase from x to y or our school performance on the AIMS will increase from x to y), and may not be a teacher oriented goal (i.e. the teacher will begin implementing RTI when needed).

An individual teacher’s impact on school-wide performance is difficult to assess but the inclusion of a shared performance goal addresses the variety of teaching assignments by using a measure for which schools or groups of teachers share responsibility. Greater collaboration is expected as teachers work together to improve school-wide results. This is evident when the supervisor at a high school can see and hear the connectedness of the lessons when they observe the social studies, science, math and other teachers reinforcing the learning goals of each discipline.

Parental and Community Involvement

Student achievement will rise in proportion to the level of parental or other interested parties’ involvement in the child’s learning. To this end, effective, consistent and regular communication between the school the teachers and the parents is imperative and must be an ever improving attribute at each site.

Effectively managed site councils are not only encouraged but required at each site. Each site administrator is encouraged to develop relationships with individuals and organizations that desire to assist in the educational process.

Safe and Orderly Environment

Students must feel safe while attending or in transit to or from their school. Classes must maintain a level of order that permits teaching and learning to occur. Students must understand and be empowered to claim their right to learn.

Collegiality and Professionalism

Sequoia Schools seek to become the standard for student success. As part of that vision each school is committed to creating an environment of positive collegial and professional relationships.


Sequoia Schools defines collegial behavior in terms of teachers and staff in a supportive role with one another. Our professional learning communities and critical friends efforts support this effort. The ultimate goal is the academic success of each student. Open and civil interactions that are respectful of each professional’s role in the education of students are expected (See Staff Conversations).


Because of the correlation between professionalism and student achievement Sequoia Schools has placed a premium on attracting and keeping highly qualified and effective instructors. Each staff member is encouraged to constantly augment and monitor their professional growth. We seek staff with:

Pedagogical Knowledge:

Sequoia Schools seeks staff members who have the pedagogical methods that lead to success in the educational environment. Research shows that when schools do the following action steps there is a high rate of academic success:

  • Establish norms of conduct and behavior amongst staff that engender collegiality and professionalism.
  • Establish methods of structures that allow professional staff input into decisions and policies for the organization.
  • Engage teachers and staff in meaningful staff development activities.
Principals who are Academic Leaders of Their Schools:

In addition to the Sequoia Supervision and Evaluation rubrics, principals are constantly being evaluated on their ability to effectively apply the following skills in their schools:

  • Resolve conflicts between themselves and their staff or district office
  • Address and solve professional problems
  • Share information about students and employees
  • Communicate to third parties about their interactions with one another
  • Conduct themselves professionally
  • Leading the academic program of their school
Staff Expectations Regarding Student Achievement 

We expect all staff to have high expectations for student achievement and success. In “What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action“, Marzano et al present a comprehensive survey of the research on best practices and rank the factors that we know impact student achievement. The chart on the next page consolidates the information and presents the factors, their rank and the descriptor used by the research.

What Works in Schools: Marzano et al

School Level Factor Rank Descriptor used by Researchers of the Factor
Guaranteed and Visible Curriculum 1 Opportunity to Learn

Time, Content Coverage, Concentration of Teaching and Learning, Focus on Central Learning Skills, Emphasis on Basic Skill Acquisition
Challenging Learning Goals and Effective Feedback 2 Monitoring of Student Progress

High Expectations and Requirements

Positive Pressure to Achieve
Parental and Community Involvement 3 Parental Involvement

Home – School Partnerships
Safe and Orderly Environment 4 School Climate / Safe and Orderly Atmosphere

A LEARNING Environment

Pupils have Rights and Expectations

Positive Reinforcements
Collegiality and Professionalism 5 Leadership, Shared Vision and Goals

Process Oriented Staff Development


A Learning Organization
Chart 1.0 | Modification of Marzano et al 2009