“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”
– 1 Timothy 4:14-15 NIV
In our home we have a large ruler in our kitchen that we measure our kid’s height each year. They often come over to the ruler and stand as tall as they can and compare themselves to their previously recorded height. Children, even at the ages of 3 and 5, are constantly trying to assess if they are growing either physically, socially and eventually academically. As educators, we can help students celebrate the growth they are making throughout the year.
These checkpoints during the quarter will help the students and parents see where they have been during the year and where they are going. This road map gives them a target to hit at the end of the year. Today we will look at ways in which we can accurately measure student growth and how students can track their own progress towards their own academic goals.
In order to show growth, we must first begin with the end in mind. The students, staff, and/or parents should look at what is the result that they would like to achieve and then work backwards from there. You also have to look at their current level of achievement. For example, it may be unrealistic to have a student’s goal to read at a 6th-grade level with great comprehension when at the beginning of the year they are at a 2nd-grade level. Below you can see some references in helping you and your students create SMART goals. Once you have these in place, you will be able to measure progress.
- Specific– Keep the goal simple, significant, and sensible
- Measurable– Think about how you will measure your growth? What tool will you use?
- Attainable– Is it realistic to achieve during the time period?
- Relevant– The goal should be reasonable, and meet your desired outcomes.
- Time Specific– There should be an end date of when the goal should be achieved.
When students are just starting out setting goals and tracking them, start with one or two goals at first to track and then increase from there. Find areas that they are interested in. They may want to have a personal goal as well as an academic goal. One goal that I have all of my students work on is a reading goal. We use Accelerated Reader to calculate points based off of proficiency on their reading quizzes. The students set a goal for the number of points they want at the end of the trimester, and then each week we track their progress. The student and I meet each week to discuss where they are at in relation to their goal, what books they are reading and if they need to modify their plan to meet their goal. The students know each week what they need to do to stay on track.
Students also like to see that we as adults are invested in their goals as well. During our weekly discussions, I ask them what they like about their book so far, if they would consider reading another book by the same author, or if they are thinking of another topic to read about. Spend time talking about your student’s and/or child’s goals and they just may find more motivation to reach that goal because it is not just them who are helping them reach their goals.
Tracking Student Progress
There are many different ways that students can track their own progress for their goals. The tool should be easy to read and understand. If you are finding that your template works, try and use it for goals across content areas or even at grade level. Share ones that work with families as well. Keep the format consistent will allow students to transfer their skills in setting goals in the classroom to other goals outside of school. Try a few of these templates out or combine them together to create one that might work for you.
When students reach the halfway point or another checkpoint towards their goal, stop and celebrate! It is nice to be recognized for staying the course towards our goal. You could plan a fun activity or a special outing with your child when they have showed steady progress towards their goal. This will keep them going and motivated when they don’t feel like putting in the effort.
Helping students set goals and tracking them will help them visually see their progress towards their goal. Starting this at a young age will help students develop a life skill that will transfer into adulthood. When they have to juggle more responsibilities and multiple tasks, they will be able to prioritize and make a plan to reach their desired goals. This is what we all want for our students and children when they grow up.