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Learning and Teaching should be Flexible:

Target Setting
 

 
 
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Targets may be set, broadly, in two main ways: firstly by analysing data and producing a set of statistical targets to be met; and secondly by establishing targets for individual pupils within the classroom, related to current coursework.  The main focus in this document is on the immediate concerns of the classroom teacher.

Points Arising from Research

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“Individual curriculum targets for pupils are the starting point for all effective target setting in schools” (Report from Suffolk LEA)

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For the SOEID “raising attainment through target setting is viewed as a means for continually improving education”

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Teachers often don’t make learning objectives (targets) clear to pupils

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The use of targets should be linked to on-going evaluation procedures

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There can be a problem in ensuring that pupils carry forward their targets from one year to the next

Key Elements of Target Setting

Types of targets:

 

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Targets may be set on a range of educational issues such as academic attainment, attendance, exclusions, inclusion

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Targets in the form of statistical standards may be set by government, education authorities, schools, subject departments and individual teachers

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Targets can be set by comparing the performance of similar schools

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Within schools pupils may have individual targets for a range of educational purposes

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Curricular targets may be set on long-, medium- and short-term bases

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Individual pupil targets can link with IEPs

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Targets are often linked to the introduction of new strategies

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“Aspirational” targets provide a degree of challenge

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Programmes such as 5-14 can provide targets within their structures

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Cognitive Aptitude Tests provide evidence of general ability to help in the formulation of targets for individual pupils

“Smart” Targets

Targets should be:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time-related

Key principles in setting targets

 

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They should be clearly understood by pupils

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They should be “owned” by those aiming for them

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Pupils should sometimes be involved in setting their own targets

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Each pupil should have appropriate targets

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Each individual should not be faced with too many targets

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Targets must be based on accurate information about prior achievement

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There must be clearly understood need for improvement

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Pupils should not simply be told what to do, but they must understand why

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Having established targets, the teacher should keep referring to them

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Target setting should be a cyclical process, with monitoring and evaluation built in

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The achievement of targets should have an influence beyond the immediate context (eg in the case of numeracy and literacy)

Curricular targets

 

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In secondary schools, departments take account of externally produced targets in preparing their curriculum

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Within the classroom,  pupils can be given (or can negotiate) specific targets

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The need for differentiated targets becomes extremely important in the classroom

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Targets are often written into reports at the end of the session and these should be carried forward into the next session with a different teacher

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Teachers should evaluate the effectiveness/appropriateness of pupil targets and consider opportunities for revising these and/or the teaching process

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Pupils should also evaluate progress towards targets and reflect on this

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Classroom targets can relate to the pupil’s IEP

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The communication of targets to parents gives them opportunities to support their children.

 

Reflection and Discussion

How do you go about setting targets for pupils in your classroom?

To what extent are you confident that your pupils clearly understand what they are trying to achieve and why?

Are there opportunities to enhance the on-going monitoring of targets?

There is some concern that target setting leads to a narrowing of the curricular focus to concentrate on specific targets.  How can this be avoided?

Target setting for individual pupils can be seen as burdensome and bureaucratic.  Can these dangers be avoided?

 

Some Activities Relating To the Issue of Target Setting

Key element

Objective

Action

 

Some examples and suggestions

Types of Targets Targets in the form of statistical standards may be set by government, education authorities, schools, subject departments and individual teachers
Familiarise yourself with the authority and national targets for a group of your pupils and match their achievement against these targets. How does the class fare? This is quite easy to do in the case of 5-14 data.
 
Smart Targets Targets should be time-related Allocate time on an occasional basis for pupils to evaluate how they are progressing in relation to their targets. A grid of criteria for different targets at different levels can be used, with pupils plotting their progress.
Key Principles Targets should be clearly understood by pupils Ask pupils what they are trying to achieve in a specific task and why they are doing it to check that they are clear about these things. Have them write down the key things they are trying to achieve in their own words. A section at the beginning of a task could involve the pupils noting down their targets perhaps with an element of choice for them.
Curricular Targets Targets are often written into reports at the end of the session and these should be carried forward into the next session with a different teacher Copies of pupils’ reports could be stuck inside their jotters for the first part of a new session. Individual pupils and the teacher can then occasionally reflect on progress in relation to this.
 

Selected References


Websites

There is information on how LEA’s in England produce targets for schools at: www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/local/lea/edp/target-setting.html

Internet searches provide various similar sites, where target setting is considered in the context of other teaching and learning issues.


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Last updated 20/08/2010
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