Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it. ~ Brian Tracy
Whether your school district is large or small, teacher professional learning is essential if you want to meet your district goals and see improvements in student outcomes. In fact, student outcomes are the most important thing for teachers, which is why professional learning should be measured with that in mind.
At Alludo, we created a specialized digital professional learning environment with teachers and students in mind. Our learner-centered approach makes teacher engagement a priority. With any system of professional development, it’s essential to measure the effectiveness of your professional learning strategies and systems on a district-wide basis, to ensure that you are getting the results you want.
Table of Contents
- What Does Measuring Effectiveness Mean?
- Why Do We Need to Measure Effective Learning?
- Models to Track District-Wide Professional Learning
- Which Areas of Professional Development Should You Measure?
- Alludo’s Take
What Does Measuring Effectiveness Mean?
Let’s start by asking what it means to measure learning effectiveness of teacher professional development. We believe that effective teacher professional development must produce seven outcomes as detailed below:
- Teacher participation. Professional learning is effective only if teachers participate willingly and enthusiastically. That means your learning system must encourage teacher participation both in terms of meeting state and district goals and as a means of improving their performance in the classroom.
- Teacher engagement. Teachers are most likely to engage with professional learning when it is valuable to their unique needs and it is clear to them that it is the key to helping their students learn.
- Compliance. Every state has requirements for professional development for teachers and administrators. Good professional development makes it easy for everybody to comply with those requirements in a timely manner.
- Relevant skills teachers can use in the classroom. Teachers are most likely to be engaged in professional development when they are acquiring skills and knowledge that relate directly to their time in the classroom.
- Builds capacity. Teachers who are armed with relevant knowledge are likely to be more confident in the classroom – and their confidence will help them do a better job of connecting with their students while increasing their skills.
- Better student engagement. Student engagement is essential because students who are actively engaged in learning are more likely to score well on tests, perform well in school, and go on to success in life beyond school.
- Improved student outcomes. If your system of professional development isn’t leading directly to good student outcomes, it isn’t doing what it should do. Better student outcomes may include test scores, GPAs, graduation rates, and college acceptance rates.
These seven outcomes are all indications of a successful and well-designed program of professional development for teachers.
Why Do We Need to Measure Effective Learning?
Why is it important to measure training effectiveness in your professional development program? There are six benefits of doing so, as follows.
Benefit #1: Evaluate Teacher Participation and Engagement
District and school leaders must be certain that teachers are participating in professional development at the required levels and that doing so is keeping them engaged with their jobs and with students.
Benefit #2: Ensure Compliance with State and District Goals
For any system of professional development to be effective, it must help teachers and districts reach their goals. On the state level, that means ensuring that all teachers adhere to requirements by measuring their progress.
On the district level, it means assigning learning modules and objectives and measuring progress toward SMART goals that have been designed to improve results.
Benefit #4: Identify Areas for Improvement
It takes time and effort to create a professional learning program that is beneficial to teachers and students, allowing school districts to meet their goals. Monitoring and measuring learning effectiveness allows school districts to identify areas for improvement and make changes as needed.
Benefit #5: Calculate ROI and Allocate Resources
When you allocate resources to teacher professional development, you want to know that you’re getting a good return on your investment. With the right metrics, you can determine how far your money is going and where more resources may be needed to achieve the results you want.
Benefit #6: Measure Student Outcomes
Positive student outcomes are something every teacher wants. The only way to know if your system of professional development includes effective learning strategies is to track student outcomes and see if teacher learning is elevating student performance in the classroom.
Models to Track District-Wide Professional Learning
The old ways of evaluating training effectiveness no longer apply or they shouldn’t. Here are the four most important tracking models as we see them:
- Teacher feedback. Teachers are the ones who are in the classroom with students and the ones who are most impacted by professional learning requirements. Giving them an opportunity to provide feedback about professional learning is a must because with their help, districts and schools can adapt learning based on what teachers tell them to achieve their most important goals.
- Gamification. There’s no denying that gamification works. It makes learning fun and interactive and it encourages learners to pursue individual goals and achievements. Faculty and staff are more likely to benefit from professional learning if they’re excited about it – and gamification provides excitement.
- Classroom observation. While new methods have their advantages, there’s still no substitute for observing teachers in the classroom and watching them use what they’ve learned in professional development to engage and excite their students.
- Student outcomes. Teachers do what they do because they want to educate young minds. Measuring student outcomes such as standardized test scores, engagement, college acceptance rates, and so on, can help school districts determine whether professional development is working or needs to be adapted.
Districts will benefit from using multiple models to track professional learning.
Which Areas of Professional Development Should You Measure?
Whichever models you use to measure the effectiveness of your professional development program, you will need to apply them to five areas:
Area #1: Format/Delivery
The format of professional development and the method you use to deliver it can both impact its effectiveness. For example, in-person professional development is typically more of an imposition on teachers’ time because they must travel to a specified location at the proper time. With a digital learning environment, teachers can complete modules and pursue learning goals in their own time.
Area #2: Organizational Support
If you want teachers, paraeducators, staff, and administrators to participate enthusiastically in professional learning, then it is essential that they feel supported. You must ensure they have access to required supplies and equipment and that they feel empowered to pursue their own goals as well as the ones you have laid out for them.
Area #3: Learning Objectives
Learning objectives for professional development should be relevant to teachers’ time in the classroom and linked to district goals, as well as meeting all state requirements for professional learning.
Area #4: Behavioral Support
Practical support is something we’ve already mentioned but faculty and staff who participate in professional development also need behavioral support. By this, we mean that you need to track their use of what they learn in professional development in the classroom and office. It’s a good measure of how effective professional development is. If they aren’t using what they learn, then you may need to reevaluate.
Area #5: Long-Term Goals
Every school district has long-term goals to pursue. Two of the most common are teacher retention and student outcomes. If you have a high-quality, learner-centered professional learning program, you should see improvements in both areas. Teachers are more likely to leave a district or leave the profession if they aren’t receiving proper support including engaging and relevant professional development.
Alludo recognizes that school districts need help taking the guesswork out of professional learning. They want a system that helps them achieve their long-term goals while also giving teachers a choice and a voice in what they learn. Our platform has it all:
- Built-in metrics to help school districts measure teachers’ progress and track their most important goals.
- District-specific systems designed with your goals in mind. We’ll work with you to develop a system that works for you.
- Gamification to keep teachers engaged. You tell us what your professional development requirements are and we’ll help you create a system of rewards that will keep teachers excited about professional learning.
Your district deserves an online training system that’s specific to your training needs, gives your teachers a say in what they learn, and provides analytics on your KPIs and learning outcomes. We can provide it.
Get Ready for a Professional Learning Environment That Helps You Achieve Your Goals
Without the tools in place to measure the effectiveness of your district’s professional learning and employee training, you can’t be sure that they’re working as you intend them to. The information in this post will help you understand what learning analytics to track and how to track them to reach your most important goals.
Want to reach up to 100% PD in your district? See how Alludo can help make it happen with our free professional development platform trial, including:
- Hundreds of core topics
- Asynchronous microlearning activities
- Timely and specific feedback
- Analytics that show learning impact
- Access anytime, anywhere
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An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin
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A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~ Henry Adams
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An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin