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Needs Assessment: What Kind of PD Do You Need?

Needs assessment at its best measures both student and staff learning gaps. Student learning gaps help define the level and type of skill that staff members need to help a particular set of students meet learning goals. Schools also need to know staff skill and competence gaps, so that PD may focus immediately on areas staff members most need to develop to meet student learning needs. See the resources below to help with your needs assessment process.

Model award video Model Award Winner Athena Vachtsevanos about how to determine the professional development needs of staff members.

Overview of the Needs Assessment Process
For general information about how to collect and use data, see the following:

    Conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment
    From USDOE's Implementing Schoolwide Programs - An Idea Book on Planning

    At Your Fingertips: Using Everyday Data to Improve Schools, MPR Associates, 1998.
    This user-friendly workbook is designed to help educators use local data to develop performance indicator systems, identify strengths and challenges, and monitor progress. This Web site has a preview and order form.

    Professional Development: Learning From the Best
    A toolkit for schools and districts based on Model Professional Development Award Winners is located at this site.

Examining Current Teaching Practices
Try these sites to learn more about different ways to examine current teaching practices.

    Action Research
    Action research is the process of using formal research methodology to assess how well your "real world" approaches to student and staff learning are working.

      ERIC Digest - Action Research

      ERIC Digest - Teacher-As-Researcher
      Information about action research.

    Self-Assessment Tools
    Where are you now? Consider these tools for your needs assessment.

      Professional Development: Where Are You Now? (Mac 300k or PC 328k)
      A quick three-page assessment checklist that helps school leaders determine where to focus efforts to change professional development. Use with or without the NCREL Professional Development: Learning From The Best toolkit FacilitatorŐs PowerPoint presentation and guide.

      Harvard Project Zero's ALPS - How can I reflect upon my teaching practice?
      Guided questions to help teachers reflect upon their own practices are available at this site.

      Assessing a School Staff as a Community of Learners (SEDL)

      Questions for Self-study: Assessing Our School's Professional Learning Community (NWREL)

      CPRE Policy Brief Excerpt: Professional Development Today
      The author(s) review what is known about how professional development is currently structured.

      A Framework for Reviewing Professional Development Policies and Practices (CPRE)

      At Your Fingertips: Using Everyday Data to Improve Schools, MPR Associates, 1998. This user-friendly workbook is designed to help educators use local data to develop performance indicator systems, identify strengths and challenges, and monitor progress. This Web site has a preview and order form.

    Examining Student Work
    See these resources for varying approaches to examining student work.

      Annenburg Institute's Toolkit: Looking At Student Work

      Coalition of Essential Schools: Improving Instruction through Inquiry and Collaboration Toolbox

      A Toolkit: Using Data to Improve Schools
      This toolkit developed by the New England Comprehensive Center provides a rationale and a systematic process for collecting and interpreting student performance and related data.


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