School Improvement in Maryland

Key Understandings For CFIP

These key understandings will help school teams use the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP) to improve teaching and increase student learning.


Key Understandings

  1. The Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP) is a team-based, collaborative data analysis protocol designed to: (1.) Enable teachers to monitor carefully the impact of their delivery of instruction on student performance; and (2.) use student performance data to adjust their teaching practice on a real time basis.
  2. The purpose of the new Maryland Teacher Evaluation Process is to analyze teacher performance, not only using the traditional rubric of professional practice, but also in terms of student growth as measures such as Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), which are essential learning targets critical for ongoing student success.
  3. A SLO can have a variable time frame and be based on student need, as determined by careful analysis of student performance data from multiple sources wherever possible. For example, a SLO can cover an entire school year, a semester, or some other appropriate time interval, as mutually agreed upon by the teacher and his/her evaluator.
  4. In many LEAs across the state, teachers are being encouraged or required to select one team SLO and one individual SLO, each of which can range in value from 15%-35%, with no single student growth measure counting more than 35%.
  5. Basing 50% of teachers' effectiveness ratings on student performance — the remaining 50% applicable to Professional Practice based on the four domains of the Charlotte Danielson Framework—makes the evaluation process very high stakes for every teacher. It is imperative, therefore, that individual teachers and teacher teams clearly identify the performance data on which the SLO is based, monitor student progress on those data carefully and regularly, and adjust their teaching practice as frequently as required in response to ongoing student performance data.
  6. Typical data analysis processes and data sets used in the past—primarily for accountability purposes—are neither sensitive enough, nor timely enough, to provide the level of precision that teachers or teams will require to be assured that their students' progress is sufficient to attain the SLO, or, when necessary, to respond with appropriate interventions when the data indicate that interventions are warranted.
  7. The CFIP protocol, when implemented with fidelity, is designed to provide the kind of precise and timely data analysis that allows teacher teams or individual teachers to monitor student performance on SLOs and to respond with the degree of precision necessary to provide clear evidence of growth over the established instructional interval.

Stages in the Process

There are four points of connection between CFIP and SLOs. These are using CFIP data to:

  1. Establish the SLO and document its relevance for the selected student population.
  2. Monitor student performance on formative assessments, that are carefully chosen for their relevance to the knowledge and skills embedded in the SLO and administered on a frequent enough basis (ideally not less than bi-weekly) so that appropriate intervention strategies can be implemented if sufficient student progress is not evident.
  3. Document, at the end of the instructional interval identified for the SLO, the extent of student attainment of the SLO and identify the instructional strategies that were key to its attainment.
  4. Share the results of the CFIP-SLO process with the team/teachers at the next grade level, through the articulation process, so that they can then use the data to begin their SLO development for the year ahead.

Stage One: Developing the SLO

  • Based on articulation meetings with the current students' previous year's teachers and the review of their CFIP data, each teacher or team proposes a skill or concept that is a critical "gate-keeper" that students need to advance successfully in the course content. MSDE recommends that the skill or knowledge selected for the SLO be aligned to recognized "college or career-readiness" standards such as the Common Core, national or international benchmarks, industry/certification standards, etc.
  • The skill or knowledge proposed for the SLO should be:
    • Useful in many content areas
    • Needed by students in future grades
    • Important enough to warrant focus for a good part of the year
    • Measurable
    • Validated by multiple sources of data from the sending grade's CFIP data and identified by the sending team as an area of grade-wide weakness
    • Consistent with the rigor and relevance of the grade-level Maryland Common Core State Standards framework
  • The SLO selected by the grade-level team is discussed with the principal in relation to the above criteria, modified as needed, and approved by the principal.
  • The team "unpacks" the SLO into the specific sub-skills and concepts (knowledge) that are embedded in it.
  • The team sequences the unpacked sub-skills/knowledge into one or more learning progressions that indicate the sequence in which the embedded sub-skills/knowledge will be taught.
  • The team identifies or develops the baseline, mid interval, and post-instruction summative performance tasks or other data points to assess the SLO.

Stage 2: Using Formative Assessments to Monitor Student Performance on the SLO

  • The high stakes nature of the SLO process is focused on the final, post-instruction summative assessment, which determines full, partial, or insufficient attainment of the targeted skill(s)/knowledge. Even though a mid-year summative assessment is scheduled for January, this measure is not sufficient to provide the instructional guidance that teachers need to insure that student progress is on track and likely to result in student attainment at the end of the instructional period. This is the second point at which the CFIP protocol intersects with the SLO process.
  • The team uses the CFIP-SLO template to track the results of formative assessments given on a regular basis, ideally bi-weekly. Frequent formative assessments allow for rapid intervention and adjustment of instruction in real time when the progress of individual students or student groups is not as anticipated, rather than relying on the two summative assessment points built into the process in January and May.

Stage 3: Capturing the Critical Elements That Led to the Results Attained on the SLO

  • Near the end of the year, teams conduct a final CFIP dialogue using the summative SLO assessment data and relevant formative assessment data documented in the CFIP dialogues from throughout the year. At this meeting, teams complete the CFIP-SLO Articulation Protocol, in which they identify (1.) the overall patterns of strength and areas of need of their class, (2.) the target groups/individuals that need further attention, (3.) effective and ineffective instructional strategies, and (4.) the changes that the team will make as they move forward in the SLO process for the next year.

    Stage 4: Sharing CFIP Data with Next Year's Team

  • The CFIP Articulation Protocol and the dialogue that takes place as it is being developed become the basis for the team's articulation meetings with teams from both the grade level below and the grade level above.
  • This process is iterative and begins again with the articulation meetings described in Stage One.