PD CoP Week: Anne D’Agostino, Jennifer Coyle, and June Gothberg on Building a Cross-Community Collaborative Evaluation Community of Practice

Greetings, we are Anne D’Agostino, of Compass Evaluation and Research, and Jennifer Coyle and June Gothberg representing the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC). We would like to share tips and lessons learned about building an evaluation community of practice. As part of their agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Programs funding, NSTTAC was charged with supporting communities of practice to build capacity for transition education and services. NSTTAC has a reputation for always including capacity building in evaluation and data based decision-making as part of its technical assistance model.

This week will feature posts from our Evaluating Professional Development (PD) CoP members about a recent topic of discussion: Thomas Guskey’s Five-Level Evaluation Model of Professional Development. On Monday, Rashell Bowerman will introduce Guskey’s Level 1—measuring participant reactions to professional development. Tuesday, Barbara Goldsby will present a system for measuring participant learning and using the data for improving practices. Wednesday, Donna Campbell will share information about assessing summative outcomes of organizational support and learning. On Thursday, Margaret Dimgba and  Sheila Robinson Kohn will walk us through evaluating participants’ use of new knowledge and skills gained from professional development experiences. Friday, David Brewer will discuss using evidence to measure student progress and to plan interventions.

Lessons learned:

  • Answer the call. NSTTAC’s staff is members of AEA’s message boards. In 2011, an all-call for assistance on evaluating professional development went out to the subscribers. NSTTAC and other AEA members answered the call. From that message thread, the Professional Development Community of Practice (PD CoP) was born.
  • Collaborate when possible. NSTTAC was able to partner with AEA members to create a CoP around evaluating professional development activities. The CoP includes members with key contextual knowledge of transition education and services and critical evaluation knowledge and skills.
  • Depend on the expertise of your members. We conduct quarterly 1-1.5 hour CoP meetings with webinars to increase the knowledge of our members. Meeting time is usually held to 20-30 minutes with the remaining time devoted to presentations from members showcasing their evaluation success.


  • Adapt and create the model you need. The PD CoP originally focused on using Guskey’s model for professional development. It quickly became clear that a new model needed to be created to address multi-site, multi-contextual evaluation. NSTTAC adapted the evaluation model to fit professional development, technical assistance, and coaching efforts. The NSTTAC model includes six levels:
  1. Level One: Quality, Usefulness, and Relevance
  2. Level Two: Participant Learning Outcomes
  3. Level Three: Organizational Policies, Procedures, and Support
  4. Level Four: Program Implementation
  5. Level Five: In-school and Post-school Outcomes
  6. Level Six: Evaluation Use and Dissemination


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Evaluating Professional Development Community of Practice (PDCoP) Week. The contributions all week come from PDCoP members. 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 evaluator.

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