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Goals, Outcomes, and Benchmarks

Goals, Outcomes, and Benchmarks

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson describes outcomes and benchmarks, articulating their relationship to goals.

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Welcome. I'm Trish Fyfe, and in today's video lesson we'll look at the lesson titled Goals, Outcomes, and Benchmarks. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards one main learning objective, and we'll use the following question to guide our learning in this video lesson. What are connections and differences between goals, outcomes, and benchmarks?

Today we'll talk about the specific differences between goals, benchmarks, and outcomes. These three are very similar, but each has a job that's slightly different. It's extremely important to understand what each of these is, they are all critical to creating professional development plans. Professional development is an essential component of growing as a teacher.

Let's break down each one. Goals are developed to show what exactly the coach and teacher plan to achieve during the process of coaching. These are set at the beginning and can change throughout the process. They can be short-term or they can be long-term. For a teacher, they are set to work toward specific areas of instructional improvement and have very detailed, precise targets.

Benchmarks help mark progress along the way. They are steps or check-in points for along the way toward achievement of the goal. They help a teacher understand if they are on track toward meeting a goal or not. Let's look at how you can determine your outcomes for a professional development plan. Objective student achievement data that stems from performance of our students helps guide our outcomes as we look at professional development.

As teachers and coaches, we look at the important and relevant content areas. And this can help us prioritize and develop outcomes. Developing professional development plans will connect these efforts to the impacts on student performance.

It's important that we as teachers understand the process and utilize support, so that these professional development efforts and instructional coaching are effective. We will know that our professional development efforts and instructional coaching were effective when our students are meeting academic standards and succeeding on standardized assessments.

This means that we as teachers have improved our techniques and instruction. How our students are performing is essential to consider when looking at most areas of professional development. This data can help us understand where to put our efforts and where we need to look at changing as far as professional development and teacher support through instructional coaching.

There are two areas to consider as far as student data. First, we can use this data to identify content areas where students are struggling as far as performance. From this, we can look at and assess any instructional approaches that might be beneficial to improve for groups of teachers.

We can also use student data to look at individual teachers in any areas that might be challenging for these teachers. Both of these sets of data for groups or individual teachers can help us in identifying target student outcomes. In other words, we set a baseline for where our students should be.

Let's look at benchmarks. These help us along the way. They help us determine steps we should take as we progress toward the goal. Consider these baby steps, or stepping stones as you move toward the end goal. They can vary in length of time that's measured in between them. They can be short-term or long-term, or they might fall in the middle.

Sometimes it's easiest to think that once schools and outcomes are set, you're good to go. But this is not always the case. There are many advantages to using benchmarks, especially for teachers. First, they show us progress along the way. This is important for us as a teacher to see what is happening and how it compares to where we should be at certain points, what progress is being made.

We can also perfect our instruction as we look at benchmarks along the way. They help keep us on track for development. There are some best practices to consider when we develop benchmarks. Collaboration is key here, just as many areas of teaching. We must work with our coach to create these benchmarks.

And we must also work together to assess progress of the teacher toward these benchmarks and reviewing student data and progress, such as summative and formative assessments. These benchmarks should indicate constant progress as we work toward the goal. They should be measurable. We need to gauge progress, and we must be effective in doing this. If we cannot measure the progress, we would have a hard time understanding where we are.

Outcomes must help in defining these benchmarks. And these benchmarks should be aligned with how we are measuring success as far as goals. All three are connected together. Let's take a look at some examples of goals, benchmarks, and outcomes. We'll make some connections between these three.

Let's say the goal here between teacher and coach is that the percentage of students working at grade level or above for reading will increase from 70% in this classroom to 95% by the end of the year. The benchmarks are that by the end of the first trimester, 75% of students will be reading at or above grade level.

At the end of the second trimester, 85% will be, and at the end of the year, 95% of students will be reading at or above grade level. The outcome for this school is that 95% of students in my class will be reading at grade level or above upon completion of the school year. You can see here that this goal is developed to show exactly where the coach and teacher planned to go. What did they plan on achieving during this process of coaching?

The benchmarks are helping to mark that progress. We're taking it trimester at a time here, because those are good stopping and assessing points. They're going to help the teacher understand if they're on track or if they need to make some adjustments.

And the outcome here is the result of the goal. This is what we intend to happen. And it's measured against achievement levels of students here. All three of these are essential to instructional coaching and to professional development for teachers.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the question, what are connections and differences between goals, outcomes, and benchmarks? In this lesson, we looked at goals, benchmarks, and outcomes. We explained how connected these three are, and how so very important these are to a teacher's professional development and student achievement.

We looked at differences, the goals being what we would like to see happen, benchmarks being the measurements or check-in points along the way, and outcomes being those end results that stem from our goals. We also looked at some best practices to consider when developing benchmarks.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Which do you feel you could use the most support in developing-- goals, benchmarks, or outcomes? What are the advantages to using goals, benchmarks, and outcomes?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Goals, Outcomes, and Benchmarks. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Goals, Outcomes, and Benchmarks”


(00:00- 00:19) Introduction/Objectives

(00:20- 01:13) What are Goals, Benchmarks, and Outcomes?

(01:14- 02:51) Determining Outcomes

(02:52- 04:23) What are Benchmarks?

(04:24- 05:43) Examples  

(05:44- 06:17) Recap

(06:18- 06:58) Reflection 

Additional Resources

High-Impact Collaborative Planning: Using Job-Embedded, Teacher-Driven Professional Development to Achieve SLCP Goals

This presentation examines the importance of teacher collaboration as part of the professional development process.

Plan, Do, Study, Act: A Professional Development Model

This article from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom explores the use of PDSA as a professional development model.

Learning to Learn From Data: Benchmarks and Instructional Communities

This article examines the importance of focusing on data to engage in instructional improvements.

Using Data to Guide Instruction and Improve Student Learning

This article from SEDL examines the importance of using student data to inform decisions in schools and professional learning.