The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is helping
10 small school districts evaluate their programs and services as part of a new
This is the first time SDCOE has offered the Program Evaluation
Institute. It started July 29 and will run through December with a total of
five days of professional learning as well as onsite coaching.
“For a small district, support from the County Office to do
this kind of work is just essential,” said Kathy Granger, superintendent of the
Mountain Empire Unified School District. “We have limited resources and we want
to make sure our resources are used effectively.”
Another group of districts will make up the second cohort in
March, which will focus on evaluating programs and services in districts with large
numbers of students learning to speak English.
The Institute started with a look at the emotions behind
evaluation, personal stories of impact and change, and a taste test of
chocolate chip cookies. Evaluating the cookies helped participants experience the
stages of evaluation–engaging stakeholders, focusing the evaluation, collecting
and analyzing data, and communicating and using the results.
“We wanted districts to recognize that the program
evaluation process is both logical and emotional,” said Shannon Coulter, lead
evaluation coordinator. “The work of our districts and the results they are
getting are only part of the puzzle; they must also communicate the story of
that work in a way that motivates and inspires others to take action.”
Participants in the initial pilot attended two days of
workshops in July. They’ll attend another one in September and two in December.
“Over the two days, district teams identified a specific
district program that they’d like to evaluate and improve,” said Todd Langager,
program evaluation coordinator. “We’ll be supporting them over the next six
months in designing and conducting that program evaluation back in their local
Eventually, SDCOE’s Assessment, Accountability and
Evaluation unit hopes to partner with a school district to offer the Program Evaluation
Institute to a larger number of teacher leaders and administrators in order to
build evaluation capacity at a system-wide level.