Champions aren’t just at the Olympics: Why your district needs a Rapid Cycle Evaluation Champion

Office of Ed Tech
Feb 26, 2018 · 4 min read
by Brad Flickinger under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Champions can articulate why evidence matters and create buy in.

At a recent conference, former California Superintendent of the Year Dr. Devin Vodicka advised education leaders looking to create positive change: invite everyone who cares to work on what’s possible.

Champions can leverage their connections to embed evidence gathering and rapid cycle evaluation into the district ed tech decision making process.

An effective rapid cycle evaluation champion is able to help districts modify their ed tech decision-making process to include deliberate evidence gathering. Rebekah Kim, the Director of Instructional Supports at Highline Public Schools, collaborates with district leaders on how to implement their evidence-based ed tech decision-making vision. With support from team members from the Data & Assessment Team, Technology Department, and Personalized Learning Specialists, she has successfully refined district processes for ed tech implementation to focus on learning conditions and strategies that make a positive impact on student outcomes.

Champions have the access and skills needed to manipulate student data.

The usefulness of rapid cycle evaluation findings depend on the quality and relevance of data gathered. Rapid cycle evaluation champions can identify the best data sources to evaluate the success of an innovative program and they have access to it. While champions don’t have to be data gold medalists, they should either feel confident collecting and analyzing data themselves, or know when and who to ask for help.

Champions are humble and actively seek input from all stakeholders.

Rapid cycle evaluation champions know they don’t have all the answers. They recognize the importance of educator and student voices, and they value input from researchers and product developers when evaluating a digital learning tool. For example, Aileen Owens, Director of Technology and Innovation at South Fayette School District, has been a champion for gathering evidence on computational thinking programs to encourage underrepresented groups to engage in AP computer science. Recognizing the value of stakeholder input, she has created space for educators to engage in and co-lead the process, developed instruments to gather student feedback, and partnered with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Champions see value in sharing what they’ve learned.

Dr. Todd Keruskin, Assistant Superintendent at Elizabeth Forward School District (which you can learn more about here), has been a rapid cycle evaluation champion in his district for five years. He understands how difficult it can be to make decisions about ed tech without evidence. After each trial, he shares what he has learned through formal and informal channels — at conferences, with peers, and through Pilot Study Briefs. He said, “We’ve learned a lot about innovative programs from other district leaders. It’s our responsibility to continue to work together to gather and share evidence so we ensure education technology meets the promise of supporting all learners.”


Building the Evaluation Capacity of School and District Leaders

A series from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology

Office of Ed Tech

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The Office of Educational Technology (OET) provides leadership for maximizing technology's contribution to improving education at all levels.

Building the Evaluation Capacity of School and District Leaders

A series from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology