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Infographic: How to Gauge the Impact of Your Professional Learning Program

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How to Gauge the Impact of Your Professional Development Program

Most schools dedicate a good deal of time and money to professional learning for teachers and staff. But not all schools can confidently say that all that time and money makes a difference where it counts: in the classroom. So, how do you gauge the impact of your program?

The answer: program evaluation.

Program Evaluation Can Help You:

  • Make data-informed decisions. Should your professional learning program be expanded, discontinued, or changed?
  • Keep all stakeholders in the know. How’s it going? Who is participating? Does it meet learners’ needs?
  • As an early warning system. What’s going well? What’s not? Will the program’s goals be reached?
  • Understand why the program is (or isn’t) successful. What factors influence the success of the program? What barriers might be getting in the way?
  • Show your success. Document your accomplishments and be able to justify the need for funding and resources.

The 5 Phases of Program Evaluation

1. Engagement & Understanding
Engagement & Understanding

Get all stakeholders on the same page: what are the stated outcomes of the program? What are participants expected to learn? What student outcomes are expected?

2. Evaluation Questions
Evaluation Questions

Come up with a few broad questions to investigate, such as “To what extent is the program changing teacher practice?” or “What evidence of student learning can be attributed to the program?”

3. Data Collection
Data Collection

There are many ways to collect data to answer your evaluation questions. A few examples:

  • Surveys & questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Observations of the professional learning program
  • Classroom observations
  • Teachers journaling about their learning
  • Student data (achievement, attendance, discipline, work samples, etc.)
4. Data Analysis & Interpretation
Data Analysis & Interpretation

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of analyzing data! Most of the time, you just need to know how to calculate simple frequencies and averages, to answer questions like:

  • How satisfied were teachers with a professional learning activity?
  • What percentage of teachers intend to try a new instructional strategy as a result?
  • Did more novice teachers or veteran teachers participate in this activity?
  • How many teachers have used the new resources they were given? How often?
5. Reporting & Use
Reporting & Use

Once you’ve collected your data, it’s time to put it into the right hands. A comprehensive report might include:

  • A detailed description of the professional learning program, including goals and how it was expected to drive outcomes
  • Findings and conclusions
  • Recommendations for decision-makers to consider
  • The evaluation questions you explored
  • How you collected and analyzed the data

Be creative (and visual!) with your report — it can be helpful to think beyond written reports or presentations.

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Program Evaluation is Critical to School Success

A rigorous program evaluation process will help you understand how professional learning programs are performing in your school environment, and is key to educator growth and continuous school improvement.

Learn More

Source: Robinson, S. B. (2019). Professional Development Program Evaluation for the Win: How to Sleep Well at Night Knowing Your Professional Learning is Effective. Retrieved from

Want more?

Our eBook “Professional Development Program Evaluation for the Win: How to Sleep Well at Night Knowing Your Professional Learning is Effective” looks at each of the above steps in detail.

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eBook Professional Development Program Evaluation