Teachers log more hours out of the classroom for professional development than nearly any other reason. In the current climate of PLCs, PBIS,
Common Core, ways to use technology in the classroom and many other large scale changes occurring within education, effective training will drive effective teachers and effective schools. Training is the hinge pin that links teachers with past models and methods of education to the current and future skills students need to succeed. If training and professional development are so instrumental to the success of school districts, why do districts spend so little time evaluating the effectiveness of training once it is completed?
Many administrators who are reading this are probably thinking, “But I evaluate my teachers.” What is being proposed here isn’t summative evaluations given to the teacher. Rather, I am suggesting a formative type of assessment to ensure transfer of training occurred that is evidenced in a teacher’s job performance.
In many school districts, the effectiveness of a typical training class or professional development workshop is most often determined by an end of session survey the learning participant completes. Teachers are asked to rate the effectiveness of the training and how much they learned, most often before they ever have a chance to apply it. It’s not that gathering opinions of learners about the content and delivery of a lesson is wrong, it just shouldn’t be the sole measure of how well the knowledge and skills that were acquired are being transferred to applied behaviors.
Imagine if teachers tried the same method. “Class I’ve concluded my three day unit on the parts of a cell. Your post unit assessment is comprised of a unit evaluation on the effectiveness of my instruction.” To which a student might ask, “You mean we don’t have to demonstrate we learned anything?” At that point the teacher replies, “No Timmy, just tell me if you feel warm and fuzzy now that our session is complete and that is evidence enough for me that this instruction was effective. “
Astoundingly, 86% of post training evaluations consist of the type of end of session trainee evaluation mentioned above, meaning most professional development and training sessions only criterion for success is an end of session rating by the participant. That means only 14% of training and development efforts are evaluated by post training evaluations by supervisors, follow up peer evaluations, or the use of pre and post-tests to show increase of knowledge before and after training.1
If school districts are serious about teachers acquiring the skills needed to be more effective in this evolving era of education, they need to consider how they are assessing the knowledge and skills learned once training is complete and teachers are back in the classrooms. If school districts are going to continue to spend the money for professional development to improve and update the skills of their staff, district leaders need to work with staff members and human resource staff (if available) to develop better methods to measure the transfer of professional development to actual behaviors used in the classroom.
1. Ralphs, L. T., Stephan, E., (1986). HRD in the fortune 500. Training and development, 40, 69-76.
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K12 HR Solutions is a human resource consulting team that specializes in human resource needs of K-12 school districts. Members of our team have strong backgrounds in human resources, management and leadership, education, and organizational effectiveness. Our team members specialize in industrial and organizational psychology, a strategic human resource degree, that focuses on individual and team behaviors that result in desired organizational objectives.