Effective CPD can impact greatly on student performance, so how do you go about evaluating it? Costa Constantinou explains
By improving both teaching and learning, effective teacher CPD is one of the greatest influences on student outcomes. Yet few schools evaluate its impact adequately, or even at all.
However, unless you do so, it is difficult to know to what extent a CPD programme benefits a school or offers value for money.
So how do you go about evaluating CPD? I would suggest the following basic framework:
1. Decide what you want from a CPD programme. If you don't have set expectations for changing teacher behaviour or other headline objectives, you will never know how successful the programme has been.
2. Determine the criteria you are going use to assess progress. These should measure the difference that the CPD programme makes to teacher practice and student outcomes, rather than just evaluate the CPD activity itself. You may already be collecting relevant metrics. If not, you will have to start from scratch.
3. Employ a range of quantitative and qualitative criteria including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observations, feedback sheets and reflection logs, for example. That will give you ‘a multi-dimensional picture’ of any changes that are happening.
4. Measure these criteria over an extended period. Research shows that most CPD evaluations are based on participants' reactions immediately or soon after the CPD programme is finished. As a result, assessment is generally brief, subjective and difficult to interpret. So don’t simply tack evaluation to the end of your CPD programme as an add-on.
5. Make evaluation a positive experience. Unfortunately, all too often it is seen as highlighting failure and undesirable outcomes rather than being a necessary requirement for ensuring improvement in your school is appropriately targeted and on-going.
6. Take CPD evaluation seriously. Don't see it as some tick box exercise that is there to appease governors, inspectors and other external stakeholders. Properly embrace it as a means to develop pupil learning and the quality of teaching in your school.
7. Don't make CPD evaluation burdensome. With the right training, a practical and collaborative approach, and the use of appropriately rigorous tools, CPD evaluation can be surprisingly straightforward.
8. Involve everyone who will be part of the evaluation process from the start. CPD evaluations should not be left solely to members of the senior team to impose on others.
CPD evaluation is an often neglected step because it is perceived as challenging. And yes, it does require long-term commitment and planning. However, to ensure that your school and its pupils gain maximum benefit from any professional development programme, assessment of training is not a nicety, but an essential.
If you are struggling to measure CPD effectively, seeking advice and guidance is imperative, because only by doing this can you create the long-term training programmes that are so vital to your school’s development.
By Costa Constantinou (BA, MA, PGCE), director of educational services at Veema Education