Yesterday was the Iowa 1:1 Institute in Des Moines and I only had the opportunity to attend one session at the end of the day. However, if there was only one session to attend, this was it! The session was How to Evaluate Your 1:1 Program with John Nash out of CASTLE at the University of Kentucky. Here are the highlights and why I think it matters.
While the title suggests the session was about evaluating a 1:1 program, in fact it could be applied to any initiative a school was adopting or thinking about adopting. The general idea that John was talking about was the importance of having specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based change statements or SMART goals. While this may not be an epiphany for many people, for some reason educators in general seem unable to do this, or at least do it well.
He then took us through the 9 steps of a strand. These steps include:
- State the change you will make via the project/initiative (This is where you SMART goal goes)
- Explain the reason why change is needed
- State the things you will do (This is typically where many people start, and I include myself here as well)
- State the things you need, including people, resources, etc.
- State when we should begin to see the change happen
- State what the indicators of change are so we know what to look for
- State how the indicators will be collected (surveys, focus groups, interviews, document analysis, etc.)
- State when the indicators will be collected
- State who will collect the indicators (This way someone owns it and the data is collected)
So why does this matter? I think it matters, because education seems to be very initiative heavy. Every year we have new programs and projects that teachers, administrators, students, and other stakeholders are involved in. Many of these projects are of tremendous worth. The problem is that we rarely state what our goals are in the way John described and we rarely know if we achieved our goals because we don’t have a meaningful way to measure our progress. So if we don’t really know what we are trying to do and we don’t measure our level of success, then how can we ever achieve change? We can’t.