The strength of our student relationships makes the difference in translating our passion for teaching into their passion for learning. ~ Beth Morrow
Every school district has a plan for providing professional development and continuing education for teachers. Where many districts can struggle is deciding where and how to allocate funds for assessing professional development and tracking its results. Budgetary concerns and confusion about where to begin assessment can contribute to a lack of ongoing oversight and evaluation.
Alludo specializes in creating interactive professional learning environments tailored to individual districts and their requirements. We believe that ongoing assessment and evaluation is necessary to ensure that professional development training is doing what teachers want it to do: giving them new skills that ensure better student outcomes.
In this post, we’ll provide you with some tips to help you assess your district’s professional development needs, review the elements of effective professional development for teachers, and cover the main criteria you should use to assess your professional development program.
Table of Contents
- Tips for Assessing Professional Development Needs
- What Are the Elements of Effective Professional Development for Teachers?
- What Are the Main Criteria to Assess Professional Development Programs?
- Alludo’s Take
Tips for Assessing Professional Development Needs
Professional development program evaluation for teachers involves measuring by the numbers as well as by how participants feel – and by what effect their participation has on students. Here are three main areas to focus on for your assessment.
#1 Allow Teacher Input and Gather Feedback
There is plenty of evidence that teachers are more likely to be engaged in professional development when they are asked for their input when developing professional learning programs. Teachers are the ones who are in the classroom every day and are in the best position to know what types of professional development will be most useful to them.
At Alludo, we provide a customizable platform for districts to design programs that encourage teachers to play a role in determining which skills they learn. By implementing an element of teacher choice – and encouraging school districts to gather feedback from teachers after they have participated – we believe that our platform can deliver the best possible outcomes for districts, teachers, and students.
#2 Choose a System That Makes Measuring Results Easy
For any school district to assess the success of its professional development program for teachers, it must put tools in place to measure teacher participation, engagement, and learning. Since it is both time-consuming and expensive to create such systems from scratch, the best option is to partner with a company that has developed a system with built-in metrics.
One of the hallmarks of the systems we design at Alludo is measurability. Our built-in metrics allow school districts to measure teacher participation, levels completed, and progress toward district and state goals for professional learning.
#3 Focus on Student Outcomes
Finally, your professional development program should focus on student outcomes, since student success is the most important thing to teachers.
Student outcomes may be measured in a variety of ways, including classroom participation, scores on standardized tests, dropout and graduation rates, and college acceptance rates. The chances are good that you already have some measurements of these metrics, and continuing to track them as teachers complete professional development requirements will help you measure the impact of your PD system.
What Are the Elements of Effective Professional Development for Teachers?
To be effective, professional development for teachers must focus on teacher practice and student outcomes. Here are six elements that define effective professional development for educators.
#1: Meets State and District Goals
Every state and school district has goals that they set for professional development and school performance. These may include things like student performance on standardized tests, graduation rates, and teacher turnover.
#2: Increases Teacher Engagement
Engaged teachers are less likely to leave their jobs out of frustration or boredom. When teachers participate in a robust system of professional development, they have the support and tools they need to excel in the classroom.
#3: Gives Teachers New Knowledge and Skills
Teacher professional development provides educators at every level with the knowledge and skills they require to be effective in the classroom. Whether that means learning about new teaching techniques or becoming more adaptive and agile when responding to students, teachers who participate in ongoing professional learning are better at their jobs than those who don’t.
#4: Improves Teacher Performance
Teacher performance in the classroom is directly related to professional development. Each student is unique and in the classroom, teachers must have an array of tools at their disposal to help them create compelling presentations, explain complex concepts, and be as effective as possible when conveying knowledge to their students.
#5: Leads to Better Student Engagement
Student engagement is just as important as teacher engagement. When teachers are not getting the ongoing education and guidance they need to be at their best in the classroom, students are likely to disengage and check out mentally. On the other hand, teachers who feel supported and love to participate in professional learning will bring their enthusiasm back to their students – who will become enthusiastic in turn.
#6: Leads to Better Student Learning & Outcomes
If you ask any teacher what matters most to them, the answer will be that their top concern is their students. Great teachers want their students to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Quality professional development for teachers leads to better student learning and outcomes in the form of high grades on standardized tests, high graduation rates, and high college acceptance rates.
What Are the Main Criteria to Assess Professional Development Programs?
Now, let’s review the six main criteria for your district’s professional development evaluation to determine its effectiveness.
#1 Individual Teacher Participation
Professional development is only effective when teachers participate. To determine whether teachers are fully engaged, it’s essential to track participation and engagement. At Alludo we’ve had great success in creating a professional development platform that gets teachers excited about learning.
The Jurupa Unified School District is a case in point. The district’s professional development program has engaged over 2,000 teachers who have collectively completed 109,000+ professional learning activities.
#2 Participation at Intended Levels
In addition to assessing general participation by educators and administrators, it’s also important to ensure that they are participating at the intended levels. In other words, logging into your professional development platform is the lowest level of engagement. You need to know whether teachers are participating to the level that’s required to get the results you want.
Alludo’s platform is designed to track participation in a variety of ways, including progression through levels. In the Jurupa USD, teachers and administrators have completed 30,000+ hours of professional development on 1,700+ levels.
#3 Availability of Professional Development
For teachers to meet the professional development requirements specified by their states and school districts, they must have easy access both to professional development classes and learning modules and to related materials.
When you assess the availability of professional development, you should be sure to include the availability of courses, necessary materials and supplies, and equipment. One of the benefits of the Alludo platform is that it is a digital learning environment that is accessible to everyone for continuous improvement. We’ve even seen district employees outside of faculty - school leaders, administrators, and other staff – participate in PD relevant to their positions!
#4 Adherence to District Goals and State Requirements
Both your state and your school district have created requirements for professional development for teachers and administrators. Any professional learning environment you use must make it easy and intuitive for participants to adhere to district goals and state-mandated PD requirements.
In most cases, this means creating a system that identifies goals and requirements and makes clear what teachers must do to adhere to the requirements and meet the goals. Measurability and clarity both help with this.
#5 Classroom Performance
Teachers must feel adequately prepared and empowered to use the materials and skills from professional development in the classroom. In fact, teachers are most excited about professional learning when they can see an immediate and relevant link to their time with students.
A study published in the Journal of Social Work and Science Education found that there was a direct link between teacher pedagogical knowledge and their professional competence in the classroom – and not surprisingly, a link between teacher classroom performance and student engagement.
#6 Student Outcomes
Student achievement is the goal of every teacher and educator. Teachers want the things they learn in professional development to help them be effective in the classroom.
A 2020 study in Contemporary Educational Psychology revealed that improving self-efficacy for teachers led directly to better student outcomes. Specifically, it said that teachers who felt empowered by professional development did a better job of communicating math concepts to students and that, in turn, students had high levels of classroom interaction and engagement, and high levels of math achievement.
At Alludo, we have designed our professional development platform with your assessment needs in mind. We have evaluated thousands of learning modules and chosen the best to incorporate into the environments we design. They all have these things in common:
- Built-in metrics for easy assessment. We make it easy to track everything from teacher engagement to hours of professional development completed. We also encourage teachers to measure their own progress.
- Learner-guided system. Our learner-guided system encourages school districts to allow teachers to self-direct their professional development after they have met district and state goals.
- Gamification. One of the ways we encourage engagement is by incorporating gamification, which allows teachers to earn points, badges, and rewards for their participation in professional development.
It’s our goal to make it easy for school districts to assess the effectiveness of professional development while making it fun and rewarding for teachers to participate.
A System That Makes Assessing Professional Development Easy is Waiting for You
If you want your school district’s professional development system to be effective and successful, assessing its performance and results is a must. The guidance we’ve provided here will help you identify areas to assess and give you the tools necessary to measure the success of your PD learning environment.
Do you need assistance creating an engaging and effective online learning environment for your school district? Click here to schedule a personalized, interactive session that covers the latest strategies to measure district-wide PD effectiveness!
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