Common Language

New Jersey is a funny state. We have as much or more state pride than any other state including the big one down south that believes they are their own country forcing their students to recite their country’s, sorry, their state’s pledge after the national pledge. We will tell you how close we are to New York and Philadelphia. How you can go skiing, hit up the shore, or hike across a mountain range all within a two-hour drive. We laugh at the joke about what exit we are from and celebrate the fact that Flying Fish Brewing Company has made an entire series of beer celebrating a different style of beer for each exit of the NJ Turnpike.

This brings me to the number one thing that can divide New Jerseyans, worse than why anyone voted for Chris Christie, is a meat that is called either pork roll or Taylor ham according to what part of Jersey you hale from.

Pork roll is a processed-meat product made from pork, spices and other flavors. The exact ingredients of pork roll are kept secret by the manufacturers of this popular meat. Pork roll is hickory-smoked, similar to ham, but is not considered to be ham. The flavor and texture of pork roll is similar to Canadian bacon, bologna and mild salami. Link

pork_roll_People from up in North Jersey call it Taylor Ham while the lower two-thirds of the state correctly call it pork roll. Taylor is the name of one company that makes pork roll. Ordering a Taylor ham and cheese sandwich would be like calling all your tissues Kleenexes or all your pencils Penntechs (the best for pencil break). What is funny is that when most North Jersey folks order Taylor Ham they aren’t even eating a product made by Taylor!! It is made by the brand Case which calls it by its proper name pork roll. Read this article to find out more about the great pork roll debate. Oh and that beer company, Flying Fish, made a beer for exit 7 and called it pork roll beer, not that other silly name!

If you are still reading this and you are wondering if this was the longest introduction to an educational idea ever here it comes. We need to have a common language in education. There is no need to have numerous names to identify the same thing. The best example of this is student growth objectives and student learning objectives. They are the exact same thing just called different names based on what state you are from.

An SGO/SLO, or a Student Growth Objective/Student Learning Objective, is a long-term academic goal for groups of students set by teachers in consultation with their supervisors.  An effective SGO/SLO must be:

  • Specific and measurable
  • Aligned to curriculum standards
  • Based on available prior student learning data
  • A measure of student growth and/or achievement
  • Ambitious and achievable

In New Jersey that can be tiered, using specific groups of students, or you can use the whole class. They were implemented in 2013 and are controversial, to say the least. They increase a teacher’s workload, increase stress, and I have not found the research to support the use of them. This is another case of increasing what is asked of by teachers and administrators and not funding those mandates. I could not find any research to back up or support the use of SGOs/SLOs. Jersey Jazzman writes a great review of SGO’s here but that was published 3 years ago. The results of those SGO’s will account for 15% of the overall teacher evaluation score.

Personally, I do not mind SGO’s. They have forced me to focus more on data collection and making sure I can defend my teaching practices and content. In the year 2013, I was just becoming “woke” to the fact that my pedagogy and philosophy had serious flaws that needed to be worked on. Student growth objectives forced me to really examine my practices and refocus on assessment and data. I do feel that SGO’s are still more compliance than true learning for more teachers but that is an argument for people in much higher positions than myself.

Q1 What other terms in education are redundant? #slowchatpe


1 thought on “Common Language

  1. Bonnie Arrant

    Fascinating that you think NJ could have the same or more level of state pride than TEXAS! Yes, we get to fly our state flag the same height as the USA flag for a reason. That aside – what you call student growth objectives sound like what Special Ed students have which are called Individual Education Plan – IEP’s…although really each subject area has goals and objectives and the entire plan is the IEP. I teach Adapted PE but I don’t think our teachers have to write those – especially not for PE.



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