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Evaluating Progress and Making Changes

Evaluating Progress and Making Changes

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students will learn how to evaluate progress in an instructional improvement plan and determine whether changes need to be made.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's video lesson, we'll look at the lesson titled, Evaluating Progress and Making Changes. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards two main learning objectives. Together, we will answer the following questions in this video lesson. What are criteria and processes for changing goals, outcomes, benchmarks, and strategies? And how can we adjust parts of our plan based on the information gathered?

Let's talk about the final stage in the PDSA cycle, which is Act. This stage is where we, teacher and coach, consider all that we've discovered in the study stage, and adapt or adjust our goals and expectations. If needed, we set new goals, in order to implement the changes that are needed to continue the improvement cycle. Assessment data is reviewed together, and we explore any reflections on what has been observed, or other evidence that can help us in decision making for the next step.

Then we act. What do we need to do to increase achievement from here? It might be that we keep the same goal, benchmarks, and outcomes, but we adjust the strategies and methods that we use to get to our goal. Or we may need to consider adapting the goals, benchmarks, and outcomes. When we set goals for professional development plans, it's important to keep in mind that these could very possibly change at some point. Sometimes, when goals are mastered or attained, we need to set new goals and keep moving forward.

To determine if, in fact, goals have been met, the teacher and coach should look at which measures of success were there. This generally includes students' achievement scores being at a determined point. Evidence is also reviewed: projects, assignments, and assessments that students have completed are looked at, to determine if the goal was in fact met. It's also important to evaluate if instructional practices are working. We must look at student needs, and what might be needed in the classroom. Goals will need to change if things are not working here.

We need to adjust goals if desired outcomes change in any way. And goals might change if there any changes in what is offered to students, as far as instruction. If the goal that was that set ends up not meeting the SMART criteria-- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based-- it will need to be adapted. And if we look at the content and determine the goal is not appropriate for what we are working on, as far as that content, the goal needs to change.

While there are many valid reasons why goals should in fact be adapted and improved, they should not necessarily change just because students have not met certain outcomes. If sufficient progress is not being made, we may need to make other considerations before we jump right into changing the actual goals. Maybe we consider breaking down the goal into smaller, more realistic goals. Or we might look at the varied approaches that could be more successful.

When we do develop new goals, it's crucial to think about best practices. It's important to look at student and teacher needs when goals are adapted. We need to consider data that's been collected, in the third stage, or that study stage of the PDSA. Changes must be made based on what worked and did not work. Just as in many other areas of teaching and coaching, collaboration is key. We must collaborate together when changing goals. It's important to think about what will be effective, and we must reflect.

This reflection can help us truly understand how we need to change goals, so that they're aligned with the desired results. There will be differences of opinions at times, but we must find a way to agree on the new goals with our coach, before we implement them. Goals that are revised should meet the SMART goal criteria. And the final best practice is that we should consider being careful to change the desired outcomes to support the new goals.

When goals are adapted, most likely we will need to consider changing benchmarks, as well. These benchmarks must be appropriate for the new goal. Even when goals are not changed in a major way, we might still need to change benchmarks in certain situations. For example, when benchmarks are not appropriate for the task that we're completing, or asking our students to complete. They might need to be adapted if the progress is not where we expected it to be at certain points.

Maybe our students have progressed much more quickly than we expected. In this case, scores may be higher on assessments. Here, we would need to adapt the benchmarks to be more aggressive. Students might progress more slowly. If this is the case, we need to slow things down to benchmarks that are actually attainable. This does not mean we change the benchmarks so much that they do not reflect the goal, however. Benchmarks and goals must stay aligned.

Sometimes, we need to change and revise our strategies as teachers, and we need to consider the actions we're taking on the way to meeting the goal. When sufficient progress is not being made, we should look at the goals, outcomes, and benchmarks. Are they appropriate? If so, it could mean that we need to focus our changes on these strategies. We might need to adapt strategies if they do not get us and our students to where they need to be, if they're not getting us to those desired results.

We might need to change them if they don't mesh well with the culture and environment of our classroom, or of our school. Strategies will need to be altered, if they don't connect with strengths of the teacher, and training and development opportunities are not available. We should consider training opportunities first, when this is possible. Sometimes, new strategies are recommended, and these strategies may be more effective. If this is the case, we should of course change our strategies to these new, effective strategies.

Sometimes, what we need to implement the strategy, as far as resources and support, are not available. And here, we may need to adapt as needed, as well. At times, changes that we need to make in that Act stage of the PDSA cycle are so substantial. And if this is the case, we may need to consider the strategies we're using, and adapt as needed at the same time.

If we find that changes are needed, as far as implementing new strategies, we should carefully move forward with our coach to ensure we are successful in making these changes. We don't want to create any additional challenges for our students, and we must consider at which points the changes would be the best for implementation. If changes are minor, we may implement these any time. But if we're adapting instruction in any way, we need to find the appropriate timing for bringing in these changes.

We can look for places where change might naturally fit in, such as the end of a lesson, the end of the unit, or the end of a grading period. Sometimes, we may want to prepare our students for these changes by discussing them as a class. Other, less noticeable changes can be implemented without any notification to our students. It's important to remember that while Act is the fourth and final stage of this PDSA cycle, the cycle is for continuous improvement.

We continue the cycle and the stages for as long as needed. Improvement is a work in progress. We're never finished with this cycle, as far as improvement with a teacher, as well as within the coaching relationship. We move right into the P or Plan stage when goals and instructional approaches are revised, therefore beginning another cycle of PDSA. After we plan and implement for new goals and approaches, we study again. Are more changes needed? Are things progressing as they should?

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the questions. What our criteria and processes for changing goals, outcomes, benchmarks, and strategies? And how can we adjust parts of our plan, based on information gathered? In today's lesson, we explored the final stage, or Act, of the PDSA cycle. It's here we consider all that we observed in the study stage, and make appropriate changes to goals, benchmarks, outcomes, and possibly strategies and approaches. It's essential to consider timing of changes, as well as best practices, when we make these changes.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider time you have worked within or observed a coaching relationship where a plan was being made. Was the PDSA cycle used? Were there any changes made with goals, benchmarks, or strategies? If not, how would the plan have benefited from these changes? Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, Evaluating Progress and Making Changes.

I hope you found value in this video lesson, and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “Evaluating Progress and Making Changes”


(00:00- 00:29) Introduction/Objectives

(00:30- 01:22) PDSA: Act

(01:23- 03:11) Changing Goals

(03:12- 04:11) Best Practices: Developing Goals

(04:12- 05:07) Changing Benchmarks

(05:08- 06:31) Changing Strategies

(06:32- 07:22) Effective Changes

(07:23- 08:00) PDSA: Continuous Improvement

(08:01- 08:37) Recap

(08:38- 09:31) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Instructional Improvement Systems: Planning and Implementation Guide

This useful guide from the Reform Support Network provides tools, resources, and best practices for school improvement.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making

This guide from the National Association of Elementary School Principals is a useful toolkit for using data to guide instructional decisions and school improvement.