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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Does Your Teaching/Learning Program Work?

Good process, apt assessment, and analysis elevate programs.
How do you assess your teaching/learning programs?

How do you know if what you are doing on your own and collectively truly makes a positive difference in children's lives?

Too often we don't assess programming fully to ascertain whether a program is working or not? Also, we often don't share the results of program analyses in holistic, open, and honest ways--ways that can serve to uplift a team's work with regard to student learning.

As I think of program analysis, I recognize that the following elements have to be part of the overall evaluation.

Program Facts
  • What are the goals of this program?
  • How much time is devoted to this program?
  • How many people are contributing to this program? How much time does each person spend on the program?
  • How are program goals identified, implemented, reviewed, reflected on, and revised on a regular basis--essentially, what does the program path look like?
  • How are program goals assessed, analyzed, and used to inform program growth and development?
Program Analysis
To determine if a program really meets its academic goals, it is important to look at the program with a holistic teaching/learning lens including the following elements:
  • How do students feel about the program?
    • Is it engaging?
    • Do they feel they can succeed at the program?
    • Do they have the support and resources necessary for success?
    • How do they feel we can serve them better with regard to the program goals?
    • How do family members feel we can serve their children better with regard to the goals?
  • Did students achieve the goals of the program?
    • Did they learn the facts and concepts forwarded by the program. This can be assessed, in part, by tests.
    • Did they learn the skills, attitudes, and attributes the program presented? A good way to assess this is by observation, video review, student oral or written reflection, collegial discussion/share, and parent response.
  • Do the goals of the program matter? How does the program contribute to a child's future success?
    • Assessing the  program goals within the context of a school system matters in this regard. The vertical alignment of how the program fits into the overall K-12 system goals needs to be assessed with a curriculum analysis open to all groups involved in the program including educators, paraeducators, students, family members, administrators, and community members.
    • How does the program match current research, standards, policies, and recommendations by universities, local/state/national agencies, and a review of related literature? This should happen on a regular basis where the team involved in the program look at the program with the lens of what's expected and what's best from a research/policy point of view. 
    • How does the program match community needs and interests? Does the program match what the community needs? Is there a way that the program can be changed or updated to better match the changing needs of a community. This match creates more investment, success, and interest in programming. 
Many programs stay mired in old think and practice because a thorough, systematic program review does not take place in a timely, updated, transparent, and inclusive way. Prior to the ready access we have to information and research today, program reviews took place every few years. I believe that's not efficient or productive anymore. I'd rather see programs take on a vital yearly process of review and enhancement that keeps the vigor and dynamism possible ongoing in schools.

How do you review the programs you implement in school? What programs are now outdated and should be replaced? What programs do not get the time or attention they deserve to meet the goals set forth, and what programs receive more time and attention than they deserve since the program action is outdated or not well connected to overall goals? 

Good process of deep, regular, open and transparent analyses lead the way to terrific teaching and learning communities. In the knowledge age we live in, program review and assessment should look different than it did a few years back--these processes should be updated with greater transparency, better process, and more inclusion than before.

There's so much room for positive growth and development in schools. The first step is to acknowledge that this growth and development is possible. The next step is to re-look at current systems and policies with an inclusive, holistic lens. Then it's time to chart the course to betterment. We can do this.