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A Roadmap for How to Evaluate Professional Development in Education

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You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. ~ Clay P. Bedford

Professional development and continuing education for teachers is a requirement in every state and school district. To ensure that professional learning is effective and delivers results for both teachers and students, it’s essential to evaluate professional development opportunities on an ongoing basis, so you can adjust your system as needed.

At Alludo, we partner with school districts around the United States to develop and launch professional learning environments with built-in tools that allow them to evaluate and track results. Here’s what district and school leaders need to know about creating a system to evaluate professional development for teachers.

Table of Contents

  1. Why is Professional Development Important in Education?
  2. Why Should We Measure Professional Development?
  3. Questions to Ask Before Creating an Evaluation Framework
  4. Areas Where Professional Development Should Be Tracked
  5. Alludo’s Take

Why is Professional Development Important in Education?

Professional development training is essential for teachers at every level. While the obvious answer to why it matters is that it is required in every state, its importance goes far beyond the requirements and into some essential truths about being an educator.

Importance of PD

It Increases Engagement for Both Students and Teachers

Professional development, particularly when it is high quality and made available to young teachers, has a significant impact on teacher engagement. According to a 2019 study published in Current Psychology, teachers at the beginning of their careers benefited the most from ongoing professional learning, showing significant increases in their self-efficacy.

A study from the same year, published in the American Educational Research Journal, found that elementary school teachers who participated in a summer course to help them engage their students in arguing from scientific evidence saw significant improvements in student engagement around what they had learned.

It Reduces Teacher Turnover

Teacher retention is a priority for every school district. It is far more expensive to recruit and train new teachers than it is to retain those who are already in your classrooms – and at Alludo, we believe that professional development is the key to reducing teacher turnover.

A 2018 research article published in the Journal of Teacher Education highlighted the importance of professional development for teachers of color, reviewing the experiences of 11 teachers and how a lack of critical professional development had led to higher rates of turnover. Likewise, a 2019 report from the Economic Policy Institute found that teachers who do not receive sufficient support in the form of mentoring and professional development are more likely to leave their jobs than teachers who do, particularly in the early years of their careers.

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It Leads to Better Student Outcomes

If you ask any teacher what they love about their job, the answer is always going to be related to student outcomes. Teachers want to connect with their students, engage them, and get them excited about learning.

A 2017 study in the Journal of Teacher Education examined the progress and outcomes of math students whose teachers participated in math-focused professional development. The study concluded that students in the classes where teachers completed the math curriculum experienced greater fall to spring progress in math than the students in the control group.

It Ensures School Districts Meet Their Goals

Every school district has goals related to student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Implementing an engaging, learner-centered professional development program is the best way to ensure that your district meets its goals.

Why Should We Measure Professional Development?

We know professional development is beneficial, but how exactly beneficial is it? The only way to know is to put a system in place that allows districts and school leaders to measure its impact and to make changes as necessary.

At Alludo, we work hand-in-hand with school districts to develop online learning environments for faculty and staff at every level. Measurability is a big part of what we offer because we believe that tracking results is a must. Measuring professional development has three key benefits you should know about:

Measurable PD

In short, measuring participation in teacher professional development activities and the results will ensure that your district excels.

Questions to Ask Before Creating an Evaluation Framework

There are some key questions you should ask before you create an evaluation framework for professional development. Some good examples come from the CDC’s’ publication Measuring Implementation to Impact: A Guide to Evaluating Professional Development, which was published in 2019.

Should the Activity in Question Be Evaluated?

The first question to ask is whether a specific PD activity should be evaluated. As a rule, it makes sense to allocate resources to evaluating large-scale activities with high participation, activities directly correlated to district goals, and pilot activities that may be scaled. Activities that are unlikely to be scaled or aren’t related to district goals do not need to be evaluated.

What Are the Key Elements of PD That You Will Evaluate?

The next step is to decide which elements of PD to evaluate. Some examples include teacher participation, number of courses completed, and teacher responses to the PD activities in which they participate. Others include tracking usage of learned techniques in the classroom and student outcomes.

Who Will Use the Evaluation and What Should It Tell Them About Professional Development?

The likelihood is high that individuals in multiple areas of expertise will want to use the evaluations of professional development. These groups may include the following:

  • Teachers
  • School administrators
  • District leaders
  • Educational services leaders
  • Educational technology leaders
  • Professional development providers

Assuming that all groups have a vested interest in the effectiveness of PD, your evaluations should provide them with the information they need to assess its success.

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What Resources Will Be Available to Support the Evaluation?

The issue of budgeting is one that looms large in every school district. Before you put an evaluation system in place, you’ll need to create a budget and determine which resources, monetary and otherwise, are available to provide the necessary evaluations. In the event that the proposed budget is insufficient, some school districts can leverage the shortage by illustrating what is needed to get the evaluations done in the desired way.

Who Will Work on the Evaluation?

The final step is to ask who will work on the evaluations of PD. You will need people to collect and analyze data from PD and to put it into reports to be shared with stakeholders. Your evaluation staff should be in place and properly trained before PD begins.

Areas Where Professional Development Should Be Tracked

After you have asked the necessary questions to create an evaluation framework for professional development, it’s time to identify the areas where professional development should be tracked. According to The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, there are five key areas to be included.

Track PD

Participant Reactions

Participant reactions must be measured because if the educators and administrators participating in professional development aren’t happy, it can impact their engagement and the overall effectiveness of the program. Some things to measure include the following:

  • Did participants enjoy the training?
  • Do they feel their time was well spent?
  • Was what they learned relevant to their work in the classroom?
  • Did the material make sense?
  • Do they feel empowered to use what they learned?

Participant Learning

Participant learning is at the heart of professional development for teachers. Some questions to ask about learning include the following:

  • Did participants complete the work?
  • Did they acquire the intended knowledge and skills?

Organizational Support and Change

Any professional development program can succeed with proper organizational support and change. Here are some key points to consider related to organizational support:

  • Was implementation of PD supported and facilitated?
  • Was the support public and known?
  • Were sufficient resources provided?
  • Were problems identified and addressed quickly?
  • Were successes and triumphs shared?
  • What impact did PD have on the organization as a whole?

Use of Learned Materials in the Classroom

It’s not helpful or meaningful for teachers to participate in professional learning if they don’t (or can’t) put what they learned to work. You should determine how relevant course materials are:

  • Do teachers use what they learned in the classroom?
  • Has their participation in PD helped them to feel more empowered in their jobs?

Determining whether learned materials are being used may be done through self-reporting and classroom observation.

Student Outcomes

Student outcomes are the priority of every teacher. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Did PD impact student learning and achievement?
  • Are students engaged and excited in the classroom?
  • Are students participating at a higher level than they were before PD?
  • Are student dropout rates declining?
  • Have student test scores and college acceptance rates increased?

Measuring student outcomes is something that can inspire teachers and help school districts to fine-tune their professional development programs.

District wide PD goals

Alludo’s Take

At Alludo, we believe that evaluating and measuring professional development in education is necessary to help students and educators succeed. That’s why we have created a professional learning platform that’s unique:

  • We’ve implemented gamified learning because we understand that it drives teacher participation and enthusiasm.
  • We’ve included built-in metrics to help teachers measure their own progress and school districts to track SMART goals.
  • We have a growing collection of success stories because our learning platform delivers results that can’t be matched – 70-90% engagement rates!

We love what we do and we can help your school district reach its goals.

Create Your Roadmap to Evaluate Professional Development Today

We hope that you will use this roadmap to set up a system to track and evaluate your school district’s professional development program.

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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