Helen Crompton
Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: PD and program evaluation

ISTE Standards for Coaches 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation.Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning.

While most educators understand the professional development part of this standard, program evaluation can be more mysterious. Simply put, program evaluation is the systematic application of methods to assess the design, implementation and outcomes of a program. A “program” that you evaluate at your school or district might be a computer program for mathematics, a professional development program, or the entire educational technology outfit at your school or district, including hardware, devices, programs and initiatives. Large or small, a program evaluation’s purpose is to uncover whether the program is achieving its desired results.

Effective technology coaches conduct program evaluations on a regular basis so they can best understand if the educational technology they are using and professional development they are delivering are positively impacting the students in the school or district. With this information, the technology coach will be able to:

  • Design future professional development.
  • Manage resources, including hardware, software and people.
  • Improve program effectiveness.
  • Provide evidence of what is working well.
  • Document accomplishments.
  • Provide evidence to support an increase in funding.

 

One of a tech coach’s primary roles is ensuring that teachers have the skills and knowledge they need to use technology effectively with students. The table below describes three ways a technology coach could conduct a program evaluation to determine the professional development needs of staff at a school.

ISTE Standards-C 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation. Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning.

Approach 1.
To determine the needs of teachers, the technology coach writes a list of what he or she thinks they need at that time. The technology coach then provides that training to the staff.

Approach 2.
Using the ISTE Standards for Teachers, the technology coach conducts one lesson observation with each teacher. He or she also sends out a survey to ask the staff what professional development they think they need. Using the observation notes and survey data, the coach chooses one of the PD options, then prepares and implements it.

Approach 3.
Using the ISTE Standards for Teachers, the technology coach conducts short lesson observations with all teachers twice a year. In addition, he or she administers a bi-yearly survey asking the staff what professional development they think they need. Using the observation notes and survey data, the coach prepares and implements all needed professional development for that year. This system continues throughout the following years.

a. Conduct needs assessment to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of needs assessment in this approach.

Addressed: The tech coach conducts a needs assessment via observation and survey.

Addressed: The tech coach conducts a needs assessment via observation and survey.

b. Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning.

Partially addressed: The tech coach conducts professional development, but it may not have been the training the teachers needed.

Addressed: The needs assessment leads to appropriate professional development that the tech coach implements.

Addressed: The needs assessment leads to appropriate professional development that the tech coach implements.

c. Evaluate results of professional learning programs to determine the effectiveness on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of evaluation in this approach.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of evaluation in this approach.

Addressed: The tech coach uses the observations and surveys to evaluate if the training met teachers’ needs and what future training is needed.

 

The technology coach in Approach 1 has met none of the indicators for this standard. First, he or she assumed he knew what was best for training instead of referring to the ISTE Standards. The coach showed clear disregard for a needs assessment, which would be necessary to determine appropriate professional development training. The coach would also be unaware which teachers most need the training, as well as the specific content or skills they wished to learn. Teachers don’t have much time on their hands, so they want professional development to fit their needs exactly, and they often view PD that doesn’t meet those needs as boring and useless. After providing training, the coach also did not evaluate the outcome to determine if it was effective for teachers or if it improved student learning.

In Approach 2, the technology coach started with the ISTE Standards. The coach then gathered input from the teachers via a teacher survey and observation of one lesson with each teacher. However, the coach made no plans to conduct future observations. As a result, teachers were able to get help for the specific content and skills they needed that year. But because the coach did not evaluate the professional development, she had no measure by which to determine if it effectively improved teacher content knowledge and skills in ways that increased student learning. Therefore, this approach meets some of the indicators of the standard but not all.

In Approach 3, the technology coach knew that the typical one-off training approach does not work. Instead, he or she implemented a bi-yearly cycle of evaluation and training, using the ISTE Standards for Teachers to conduct classroom observations as well as a survey to gather teachers’ input about their training needs. This initial needs assessment allowed the coach to customize professional development for those teachers. The second evaluation then gave teachers a chance to provide feedback about the last training session and follow up with requests for training needs that still remained. This approach meets all the indicators of this standard.

Professional development is crucial for teachers to keep skills sharp and current. But to really understand teachers’ often evolving PD needs, coaches must conduct ongoing needs assessments, followed with evaluations determine if trainings were effective and plan for the future.

Samantha Briggs assisted with this article. She is a secondary science teacher in Virginia and Washington public schools. She earned her M.S. in education from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.

Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology, and she earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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