The cycle of decisions for education programs don’t always make sense from the perspective of the public. The cycle starts with a new program that is launched. The program is introduced with a degree of excitement and possibilities. Especially since senior leaders are throwing funding into the launch and promising better results.
Then comes the hard part: implementation. The program is implemented in schools and teachers are expected to change their practice. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it is subtle. The only certainty is that if it is about the change of teacher practice, it happens behind a closed door.
After some time –not enough according to most teachers and education reform critics – there is a response from local communities that talk about being satisfied or unhappy with the new program. Most of the time, the new program does not deliver the promised increase in student achievement immediately. The senior leadership reacts with a change in management that often leads to a new program that replaces the old new program and voila …. Reboot!
Having worked inside Ministries of Education and with school leaders, I know that some of the change decisions are strategic and they need to be made for various reasons. Having been a teacher and educational evaluator and researcher, I also know that new programs require time to effect student achievement – especially when teaching practices are part of the new program!
Regardless of my role, I have found that when systematic monitoring and evaluation is conducted and reported, the mystery for teachers and parents is alleviated fostering greater trust and support.
In general, new programs are introduced with an educational purpose in mind. There are core issues that need to be addressed. Usually, the most prominent issue is low student achievement in core subject areas (e.g., STEM and English proficiency). The next issue is teaching environment and practices that need to be upgraded because, if these elements were better, then student achievement would be better.
Given any educational authority, the key long-term outcomes should represent the priorities, vision, and goal of the authority. This means that whatever the program – the long term goals are the same. The education authority (school, district, ministry) should be able to monitor progress using a set of standard indicators that measure the progress of the core issues. When this is done, then it becomes a matter of analyzing the results to determine which program (or part of the program) offers the best solution for a particular community.