Teachers and schools periodically set goals for their students. One way to make sure that your elementary students are meeting the goals you envision for them is by setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. By ensuring that your goals meet these five criteria, you will see greater success in your goal setting and the accomplishment of those goals.
Include specific action words that clearly define the result you have in mind. Words such as "increase," "develop," or "provide" might be helpful to include in a SMART goal. Be sure not to keep your goals too general or too vague, as specificity will help keep you and your students focused on what needs to be done to achieve the goal. For example, instead of "Students will read better," a more specific goal would be, "The number of second graders scoring in the proficient range of vocabulary tests will increase by 10 percent."
You will need to have a way to measure your SMART goal, or a way to know when you and your students have reached the desired outcome. Besides the long-term objective, there may also be several short-term measurements that can be included in your goal. Having a way to track your students' success will help keep you on track towards the goal and help you to know if you are within reach of the intended target. A measurable goal for an elementary school might say, "Third grade students will improve their math scores, measured by an increase in the number of students moving to the proficient level on state tests."
While you want to challenge your students to be the best they can be, you must also make sure that the goals you set for them are within their reach. Goals that stretch their abilities slightly will lead to a feeling of success when the goal has been met and keep you motivated to continue working to reach further goals. Think about whether or not your students will realistically be able to meet the goal within the time frame you have set. For example, it would not be realistic to say, "All first graders will read at a fourth grade level by the end of the year," but a more attainable goal might be, "The percentage of first graders reading at or above grade level as measured by standardized tests will increase by 10 percent."
Your SMART goals also need to be relevant to where your students currently are in their achievement. This means you will need to consider the students' or your school's current needs and how the goal you are setting will make a difference to their success. Think about whether your students have the resources or materials available to meet the intended outcome of your SMART goal and how the objective fits into the larger goals of your school or district. In an elementary school, a relevant goal be, "The number of students in our school scoring at a level 4 on the writing rubric will increase by 5 percent in each grade level." The goal might also include information about the school's current number of students performing at that level.
SMART goals also must include a time frame or a deadline by which you and your students will have reached the intended objective. Without an end point, or time when you will evaluate the results, the goal remains too vague and without urgency that leads to action. Setting a realistic target date helps keep you focused on achieving your results. An example of this time frame might be, "The number of fifth graders improving their science scores on monthly assessments will increase by 20 percent by the end of the first semester," or, "During the month of January, the number of fourth graders passing the weekly spelling tests will increase by 10 percent."
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