I am an educator; I’ve taught and worked in the field for more than 50 years. In recent years, much of my work has centered on dissemination of evaluation information to serve educators engaged in classroom teaching, as well as those evaluating education programs. My comments here pertain to professional development intended to enhance classroom instruction.

Results from EvaluATE’s annual surveys of ATE program grantees indicate that professional development (PD) providers within ATE do evaluate some aspects of their PD programs. However, most do not follow up to assess gains among their participants’ students. Our reflections and discussions with PIs and evaluators suggest a good reason for this shortcoming. It is costly in time and effort to do a post hoc evaluation with participants, and PIs cannot easily gain access to information about the students of PD participants. Also, the strictures on sharing student interest and achievement information are substantial. So an important question is, how can we manage our PD and evaluation to overcome these hurdles?

I think an important part of the answer involves engaging participant teachers in the assessment and evaluation processes. Such engagement requires willingness on their part, preparation and practice to develop the knowledge and skill adequate to do the work, support and encouragement to do this work, and follow up exchanges of feedback about individual and collective effects.

Here are five practices that I believe are associated with strong evaluations of PD programs intended to enhance classroom instruction. How many of these practices are part of your PD efforts? If you do not currently take these actions, give them a try. I’d appreciate your thoughts and suggestions once you try them.

At the time participants are recruited, they agree to provide post-PD feedback on:
1. the impact of the PD on their own instruction.
2. the impact of the PD on their students’ learning.

During the PD program
3. participants demonstrate what they learned during the training (not including self-report).
4. participants receive instruction on student assessment.
5. participants are provided tools, protocols etc. for both gathering and reporting information on student impacts.

About the Authors

Arlen Gullickson

Arlen Gullickson box with arrow

Emeritus Researcher, The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University

One of four children, Arlen Gullickson was born and raised in a farming family in the state of Iowa. His education includes baccalaureate, masters, and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics, physics and education, respectively. He has 30 years of teaching experience at the high school and college levels and altogether more than 40 years of experience working in education. In the past, Arlen was the director of The Evaluation Center and Chair of the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation. Currently, he is supposed to be retired. But he serves as a Co-Principal Investigator for EvaluATE (after serving as the PI) and fishes whenever he can.

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