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SMART Goals and Improvement Tools

SMART Goals and Improvement Tools

Author: Katie Hou

In this lesson you will learn about tools for school improvement including SMART goals and 10 Quality Tools from the Baldridge Award.

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Hello, and thank you for joining me today for SMART Goals and Improvement Tools. By the end of today's tutorial, we will be able to answer the question, what are some evaluative tools for school improvement? Let's start with SMART goals. What exactly is a SMART goal? A SMART goal's purpose is to help improve student achievement and success. Having a SMART goal clarifies exactly what is expected of the students and how we're going to measure what is expected of them.

It helps us determine whether or not a goal is achieved or successfully completed. If you look at SMART, it's really an acronym. So specific and strategic simply means it's linked to a specific summary, departmental goal, or an overall school goal. It answers the questions of who and what.

Measurable is how do we determine whether or not we're meeting the goal? Is it going to be a percentage? Is it going to be a net gain? Are we going to add one point per rubric? How are we going to measure this? And is this goal attainable? Is it realistic? And can it be achieved in a specific amount of time? Are these expectations reasonable?

Relevant just means why does it matter? And does it matter in terms with what is important in today's educational landscape? Is it aligned with the current tasks and projects that we're doing at the school? And time frame simply means what is the time-frame of the goal? You can't just have a broad goal. You have to have it framed within a week, a month, a year, two years. It doesn't matter how long, as long as there is a time-frame.

How can we use SMART goals with the PLC? Well, SMART goals are used by the PLC because they help establish a culture of collaboration. And this is established around a problem of practice, where the ultimate aim is that we want to improve student achievement. So we get together in our professional learning communities. We all know the types of goals we're looking at creating. And so we collaborate with one another to find problem areas within the school, so that we can create a goal aimed at solving that problem. And as a result, we'll have improved student achievement.

However, SMART goals are not the only goals that exist. And there are a variety of goals that your PLC could use. We're going to look at 10 quality tools. And these 10 quality tools were established by the Malcolm Baldrige Award. And they're sometimes called the Montgomery County 10 Quality Tools. The first one we're going to talk about is Force Field Analysis. And this is a tool that you can use with your class or that you can give to an individual student.

Basically, the purpose of this tool is that we want to discover what is helping or hindering our students from reaching their own goals. So we're going to help the students identify what's getting in the way of their learning and then develop a plan to address those obstacles. This is also known as finding and eliminating the root cause. The next one we're going to talk about is Consensogram. And this is essentially a quick survey. And on the survey, the students can indicate their feelings or comfort levels with material on a continuum.

This is actually really helpful for teachers because it's a quick gauge of where the class is in the attainment of their objectives. And you can do a survey like this really simply through Google Forms. You can just ask them a question. They'll respond. It's going to generate the data for you really easily. You also have Plus Delta. A plus just means ask a student what's working for their learning, and a minus is what's getting in the way.

For the deltas, you have to make sure you can help generate strategies to help districts move beyond those obstacles. And then, you have the Issue Bin. This is a feedback tool where students can provide constructive feedback about how the class is going. And they can provide it to the teacher. Or they can provide the teacher with insights to a concern that they might have. And this, again, can be informal. You could have a shoe box that students put the issues in. That could be your issue bin. You could allow them to email. It could be done anonymously, et cetera.

The fifth tool is Affinity Diagram. This is a good tool for brainstorming ideas. So once the brainstorm is completed in class, the ideas are placed into categories known as the Affinity Diagram. The sixth tool we're going to talk about today is a survey. Obviously, pretty self-explanatory, this is a strategy to get feedback from the class. And we already talked about how you can use online tools to really help you with surveys. So it's not a huge pain to distribute these and collect the data from them.

Then, you have a Flow Chart. This is good for helping students develop steps to improve an area of focus. So if a student is really struggling in the morning, let's develop a flowchart of what they can do from the time the bell rings to math, which starts an hour later. What are some steps they can take to help get themselves focused? Bone Diagram is where students identify where they are, where they need to be in the future, or where they want to be. And then, they outline steps on how they can get there.

You can also use a graph. This is a good thing for students because they can chart their individual progress, or they can chart the progress of the class towards a collective goal. I've seen this a lot in elementary school classrooms. But I've actually used it in my secondary classroom when we're talking about the writing process-- just little star stickers. This student has down thesis statement. This student has down organization and more. It actually really builds the team mentality. The students want to help each other reach the goal because they want to fill the graph in.

And lastly, we have Action Plans. This is a tool for the teacher or students to identify a problem, create a solution, and within that solution, create measurable steps. Then, much like we're doing with PDSA, which we've talked about a little bit already, is we indicate who's responsible for the plans and the resources. And then, we have to make sure there's an evaluative measure, so that we know if it's working. So like I said, this is a lot like PDSA, which stands for Plan, Do, Study, Act. And this can be something that you use with your students or that you can also use in a PLC. Let's reflect.

How can you use SMART goals in your PLC? And which of the 10 quality tools are you most likely to use in your classroom? And why? So to review, today we answered the essential question of what are some evaluative tools for school improvement. For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The Additional Resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thank you for joining me and happy teaching.

Notes on “SMART Goals and Improvement Tools”


(00:00-00:11) Introduction

(00:12-01:34) What is a SMART goal?

(01:35-02:10) SMART goals and PLCs

(02:11-04:12) Other Tools: 1-5

(4:13-05:59) Other Tools: 6-10

(06:00-06:17) Reflection

(06:18-06:44) Conclusion


Additional Resources

Using SMART Goals to Raise Student Achievement

This presentation walks through the process of establishing SMART goals to improve student achievement. Dr. Bedden links the use of SMART goals to the PDSA cycle of inquiry. Imbedded within the presentation are activities to help practice the development of SMART goals.

Montgomery County Public Schools: Examples of PDSAs

This site instructs you how to use the PDSA cycle of inquiry. In addition, the site provides examples of practical applications for the classroom with images of the process in use in real settings.

Montgomery County Public Schools: 10 Basic Quality Tools for the Classroom

The 10 Quality Tools are a part of the Baldridge method of continuous improvement and quality performance. Montgomery County, as a Baldridge Award winning district, implements these tools to engage and empower teachers and students in continuous improvement efforts.