As the emphasis on goal setting for teachers and students increases, it is important to understand why this process is valuable. A goal gives both teachers and students a target at which to aim. Goal setting correlates positively with students’ persistence, academic results, and deeper processing of materials. Instructional goals focus students to the extent that they generally score higher on assessments when content and skills on the assessment are directly related to their goal (Stronge & Grant, 2009). In addition to the benefits for students, setting goals and tracking progress towards them have clear benefits for teachers. Goal setting focuses teacher planning and allows teachers to make decisions about instructional priorities.
Instructional goals need to be aligned to the required standards/curricula and appropriate for students at the correct level of rigor in order to master the content. In addition to being aligned, goals should be made with the students’ starting points in mind. Once teachers have determined their students’ current levels, they can assign goals that are based on growth. Students respond best to goals that are demanding but achievable. A goal that is too difficult manifests frustration, but a goal that is not difficult enough correlates with underperformance (Marzano, 2009).
How do I know how much my students should grow this year?