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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How Do You Evaluate a Program?

A parent approached a colleague. The parent compared two programs naming one as better than the other. I asked the colleague what metrics she used to compare. The colleague didn't know.

How do we compare one program over another?

I offer the following suggestion.

Begin by looking at essential goals and progress.

For example, it is our goal to help every child achieve growth in basic skill areas such as math, reading, and writing. We could look at scores to determine who grew and by how much. Then we could compare those metrics with past years.

We can also look at standardized assessments to ascertain growth. State assessments come with growth scores, and we can take a look at those scores and analyze to see a comparison over years.

We could employ assessments related to happiness, discipline issues, friendship, growth mindset, social/emotional learning, creativity, and teamwork too.

There's many ways to assess overall program results and development, and the first step is putting those metrics in place in a way that the information is easily collected and able to be analyzed and compared over years.

I do my own assessment of program goals and development to make sure that the program I deliver is continually developing. Some of the measures I use include the following:

  • I analyze standardized scores related to past years, across classrooms, and related to individual students' efforts, support, and stories. I look carefully at who made significant growth versus those who made less growth and make program changes related to that information.
  • I analyze student reactions, happiness, and progress via multiple analysis/reflection points. I work with colleagues day-to-day to discuss these analyses and make changes to better areas of need or concern.
  • I analyze the overall program each year to see where we might make changes to better the program each year.
  • I look at systemwide scores too to see where we might make good change to better the program.
  • I read and research to see what other schools and teachers are doing to improve programs.
As we tracked student progress this year, we found that students, in general, made good progress. There are a few areas that I think we can better, and I think the first step to betterment is to reach out to coaches and directors with specific questions, then tweak our schedule a bit to better the programming with regard to student progress.

On the social/emotional side of teaching and learning (SEL) I'd like to increase efforts to embed SEL into the daily schedule and lessons. I'll use the book colleagues and I just wrote to support that effort and I'll work with colleagues to make more space for read aloud and open circle in the schedule to boost these skills. 

With regard to project-based learning and STEAM, I was very happy with the big projects students engaged with including the fifth grade play and the biography project. I'm also happy with most of the field trips and daily learning efforts. I want to re-look at the schedule with regard to fitting in all the STEAMwork that's recommended for the grade-level. To follow systemwide math recommendations and teach the math well took a lot of time thus leaving little time for lots of hands-on science. I want to re-look at the schedule with colleagues to maximize our use of time. We have some ideas with regard to how we might move things around to build in more time for this. 

I want to think more about how we assess our programs in holistic, forward moving ways over the summer so that we have good metrics to analyze program growth and strength. Onward.