As Popham (2006) makes clear, choosing the best instruments for program is reliant on how well the instrument is aligned with the goals of the program and the school. To achieve this objective I recommend instituting a task forced charged with the responsibility of working with teachers to develop a set of both short-term and long-term goals.
In regard to alignment with long-term goals, our program evaluation designers and analysts need to be fully aware that their objectives must be fully attainable, fully supportive of national standards objectives, and consistent with the long-term objectives of the teachers and the school. Goal-setting by faculty does not mean that they can do whatever they want to do. The leaders of this evaluation process must remember that in the end they have the responsibility for ensuring that all objectives are consistent, and for approving their subordinates' objectives. This means being continually on the lookout for goals that are unreasonable or impossible to reach. However, faculty must be allowed to exercise a major influence on their objectives, since improved motivation can result if they are allowed to help in determining the criteria by which their performance will be evaluated (Mintzberg, Quinn & Ghoshal, 1998). As a result of joint negotiation and review, the task force leaders and the teachers can agree in writing on the ELL evaluation's final objectives and goals for the coming year. On the whole, these objectives must be in excellent alignment with both internal and external stakeholders needs, as well as with both long and short-term strategies.
In terms of short-term goals, the first goal will be a summative evaluation in that it is "concerned with providing information to serve decisions or assist in making judgments about program adoption continuation or expansion" (Fitzpatrick et al., 2003, p. 17). The second goal is designed to support the decision making process in the summative evaluation, however because it is being used to evaluate the new programs and directions being currently implemented, it must be categorized as formative. This is because the evaluation is being performed while the program is still going on, and because it involves the objective of "providing information for program improvement" (Fitzpatrick et al., 2003, p. 16).
In regard to the actual evaluation process, I recommend assessing the ELL program in a series of three steps. The first assessment should be a formative evaluation conducted at the beginning of the school year. This evaluation will focus on the current state of the program, such as the effectiveness of the curriculum design, and whether the curriculum and environment are currently meeting the needs of the ELL students. This will allow for instant feedback so that the alignment of goals and objectives can be based on a solid foundation of research and information.
The second evaluation should occur three months into the school year, with the purpose of determining to what extent, if any, the impressions of the ELL program have changed. This evaluation will help to determine what improvements have been made, which ones have worked, and which ones have not. It should also allow the task force to incorporate any concerns the faculty has about the success of the ELL program, and any input they have for improvement.
Phase three will occur after another three months, after the information collected from the second evaluation has been implemented into a strategy for reform. This will create a chance to see how well the objectives of the program are aligned with national standards and with the vision and mission of the school.
Assessing the effectiveness of changes and improvements that are implemented is as important as the reform process itself. Without a valid and reliable system in place to determine if the change initiative is a success or a failure, a great deal of time, money and effort can be wasted on what is essentially a 'lost cause'. This program evaluation design incorporates all of these factors in order to present a strategic plan for evaluating what areas of the changes implemented need to be improved upon, and which areas are working successfully.
According to Garret & Holcomb (2005) one of the most important strategic tools that ELL teachers need is a curriculum guide designed specifically for ELL students. Without one, the job of ELL teachers is made very difficult since they have to invest a great deal of time planning units of studies that will address the needs of culturally diverse students. On top of that, it takes teachers additional time to translate materials, often causing them to dismiss curriculum that could otherwise be useful. Instruction should be designed to make ELL students full participants and to include them in the high expectations placed on other students. A culturally relevant curriculum is needed if language learners are to succeed in school and become part of the American society.
Fitzpatrick, J. Sanders, J. & Worthen, B (2003). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. (3rd ed.) Allyn & Bacon.
Garret, J.E. & Holcomb, S. (2005, Fall) Meeting the needs of Immigrant students with limited English ability, International Education 35, 49-62
Hays, D.G. (2008). Assessing multicultural competence in counselor trainees: A review of instrumentation and future directions. Journal of Counseling and Development, 86, (1), 95-101.
Krashen, S. (1985) Principles and practice in second language acquisition, Oxford: Pergamon
Mansoor, I. (1992) Indicators of program quality: An ESL programming perspective, ED374684. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/13/58/b8.pdf