Evaluation Methods to Cultivate Change

Change can be hard. Just ask Vicky Butler, who oversees improvement efforts for Cullman County Schools in Alabama. School culture in this large rural district remains steeped in tradition. To support district programs, Butler needed a way to break through resistance, ensure quality implementation across multiple schools and classrooms, and assess effectiveness. SEDL helped open the way to change.

Cullman County Schools, like all school districts, needs to ensure that improvement efforts produce gains in teaching and student outcomes. Through our Center for High-Performing Schools, district and campus leaders are learning evaluation methods for guiding and assessing their efforts while cultivating the conditions for change.

In 2012 and 2013, SEDL consultants have been working on site with leadership teams one week a month to model and scaffold evaluation techniques and tools. The support has focused on the Alabama Strategic Teaching Framework, a K–12 initiative promoting instructional strategies that foster literacy and active learning. With SEDL’s assistance, central office staff are developing an evaluation plan to guide the initiative. This plan clarified activities and roles, set benchmarks and goals, and identified formative and summative measures to assess the initiative’s effectiveness.

To build formative evaluation skills, SEDL also showed administrators how to seed change with the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM). This set of diagnostic tools enables leaders to manage and monitor a program in a way that shares ownership among staff and is sensitive to their needs. Using CBAM, administrators, principals, and teachers collaborated to set expectations for the new initiative. Other CBAM tools have helped administrators tap into teachers’ attitudes about the initiative and the extent to which teachers were engaged in the initiative. With this information, leaders can provide the specific support needed to stay on track.

District and campus leaders have been working more cohesively and developing a comprehensive picture of their progress. From Butler’s perspective, her team has gained valuable skills for managing programs and measuring whether their efforts have been effective—definitely a change for the better.

CBAM chart

For more information, please contact SEDL project director Erin McCann at erin.mccann@sedl.org or at 800-476-6861, ext. 6535.