Before you launch into Public Achievement, think about how you can use evaluation to answer specific questions about what your students are doing and learning in Public Achievement. On going evaluation can provide you with information that is useful and practical.
Everyone can do evaluation. It can be as simple as asking, “What happened today and how could we do things differently?” or more complex, such as, “What skills do students demonstrate after participating in Public Achievement?” Your evaluation plan should be designed around the questions you want answered. Your evaluation plan will also be influenced by the resources you have to carry it out. The ultimate goal of evaluating Public Achievement is to strengthen the work and deepen the learning.
Here are some questions to consider as you think about planning evaluation.
- What do you want to learn about Public Achievement this year?
- Was there anything you wish you knew about Public Achievement last year but didn’t ask? How might those questions be answered this year?
- Are there stakeholders in the school who might be interested in knowing something specific about Public Achievement?
- What resources are available to carry out the evaluation?
- Who will do it?
- Are there questions you can ask that are relevant to state standards?
- How can you ensure the results will be used?
- How will you share the information with the site, Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Public Achievement forum?
The role of evaluation in Public Achievement
- Evaluation gives young people an opportunity to learn and practice valuable skills.
- Evaluation facilitates relationship building among team members.
- The process of engaging in evaluation is empowering – knowledge gained is power to change the course of direction or reinforce what is working in the team.
- Evaluation is a democratic means to hear what each team member has to say about the process, project, or issue.
- Young people can be encouraged to share their results with peers, teachers, school staff and administration. Public presentation of the work makes visible the accomplishments of the group.
- Young people will be ready to respond to the question: what are you learning in public achievement?
- Evaluation is a way to learn about and see accountability.
- It requires individuals to think critically about what has been done, personally and collectively as a team.
Evaluation improves the quality of your team’s work.
- It provides a means for checking in to see if you are keeping in line with your mission statement and goals of your team.
- It provides the team with an opportunity to identify or name what is being learned.
- It is an opportunity to reinforce the core concepts and skills being developed in the team.
- It provides the team with a documented record of your team’s progress.
As a teacher, you are in a prime position to gather important information about what young people are doing and learning in Public Achievement. There are many different tools you can use to gather the information. The curriculum “Democracy in the Classroom,” includes material ready for you to use. Take time to become familiar with the curriculum. Specific evaluation tools can be found in the Toolbox sections: Sustaining Evaluation and End of the Year Evaluation.
Share your evaluation ideas and experiences with other teachers at your site and at other Public Achievement sites. The learning that is taking place will be more evident if evaluation is carried out on a regular basis.