AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Jul/16

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Jessica Zulawski on Using data strategically to strengthen schools

My name is Jessica Zulawski and I am passionate about evaluating educational interventions and teaching others about how to effectively use program evaluation to strengthen organizational effectiveness. I currently work as the Data and Evaluate Associate at Broome Street Academy and as Senior Evaluation Trainer at Evaluate for Change.

In both of my roles, I work to educate practitioners on how data can be used to strengthen organizational effectiveness. I’ve found it’s been helpful to involve coworkers in all steps of the evaluation process so that it is understood exactly what is involved with identifying assessment priorities, collecting and storing data, and reporting data. Increased awareness of all of the steps involved in the process helps create buy-in so that all staff are on board to share the labor-intensive process.

Lessons Learned: Working to effectively evaluate a program is a two-way street. The evaluator relies on practitioners for consistent feedback on what data are relevant and meaningful as much as practitioners rely on the evaluator to provide meaningful information on their efficacy. Working together in this way has created an enthusiastic culture of learning and has inspired new initiatives by uncovered trends brought to light through the use of data.

Hot tip: Make frequently utilized data widely accessible to empower staff to pursue their own evaluative inquiry. For example, I made our students’ month-to-month attendance rates accessible to all staff so they can track the efficacy of their own attendance-related interventions.  This process was implemented after educating staff on the basics of conducting a single-case design.

Rad Resource: Kickboard has been particularly useful for both communicating events throughout the school day and allowing staff and students to track student behaviors. This tool is great for involving school community members in coding and tracking behavioral trends, so that we can closely monitor students’ progress.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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2 comments

  • Aliana Pineiro · July 11, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Great blog post! Ensuring engagement and buy-in from staff when implementing an evaluation is key. A great way to do that is sharing data on a regular basis. Good point!

    Reply

  • Amanda Babine · July 6, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the importance of empowering staff to pursue their own evaluative inquiry. Giving examples and modeling how to leverage data is a great way to encourage those who don’t use data to do so.

    Reply

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