Program Improvement Process

Keene State College and Plymouth State University are using a common program improvement process in their preservice special education certification programs. These tabs give an overview of the process. Feel free to use and customize the process and the tools for your use. The process is grounded in the Transition Competencies for Preservice Special Education Programs (PDF, 8 pages, 2014).

A continuous improvement process in preservice special education certification programs

circle diagram of program improvement cycle - all info is in the text of the tacbs

Keene State College and Plymouth State University collaboration

Part of the Next Steps NH project has been to include more evidence-based training materials on transition planning, ELOs, and parent/family engagement in preservice special education teacher training programs in New Hampshire. Keene State College coordinated the development of preservice transition competencies, a program needs assessment, and an improvement process. After a one year pilot other institutions were invited to submit proposals to join the Next Steps project. Plymouth State University was selected and began work with Keene’s materials and process. Since then the two institutions have worked together to improve their own programs and develop tools to share with others.

Conduct program review and/or needs assessment

Program review tasks: Do program review to identify current practices. Assess current practices and needs for improvement.Step 1 is to conduct a program review to identify your current practices and note needs and ideas for improvement. We offer a tool, Transition Competency Needs Assessment (PDF, 14 pages), to use for this. Needs Assessment in MSWord format

By the way, we are not the only game in town. Other options for reviewing your program are:

Prioritize program improvement needs

Prioritizing tasks: Develop possible action items. Map the action plan to the needs assessment to set priorities.Step 2 is to prioritize your program improvement needs and identify possible action items –  you can’t do everything in one year.

Complete the Implementation Levels Summary (PDF, 1 page) to see a one-page overview of your current levels. Implementation levels summary in Excel format

Use our mapping tool, Map of Action Plan to Needs Assessment (PDF, 1 page) to analyze your action item ideas to make sure your plan is addressing your highest priority areas. Map in MSWord format

Develop yearly action plan

Action plan development tasks: Write action plan statements including outcomes. Get explicit commitment from each team member.Step 3 is developing your one year action plan. Write action item statements that are specific and include a measurable outcome – something you can actually measure your progress against.

Each action item needs to be owned by one person or a small team. Get explicit agreement on the ownership and due dates.

Our Action Plan Template (PDF, 1 page) has columns for the action item statements, owner, due date and a space for progress notes through the year. Action plan template in MSWord format.

Implement action plan

Implementation tasks: Administer pre/post testing of preservice students' skills and knowledge. Gather team together periodically to review progress and adjust the action plan as needed. Make progress notes.Step 4 is where you start making changes and implementing your action plan.

Administer a pretest to your preservice students to assess their baseline transition knowledge and skills before you start making improvements. (This might be part of your action plan.) Give the same test as a post-test to assess their and your progress. There are several online tools available for administering surveys and pre/posttests. Preservice Special Education Transition & Career Development Survey (PDF, 6 pages, 2016)

Gather your team together periodically to review progress and adjust the action plan as needed. You’ll be learning along the way and should feel free to change your plan. Keep progress notes as part of the action plan document – everything in one place keeps it clear for everyone.

Evaluate progress

Evaluation tasks: Review action plan progress notes. Analyze preservice students' pre/post testing results. Gather faculty for an indepth review.Step 5 is evaluating your progress at the end of the year, and preparing for a new action plan.

Review your progress notes on your action plan. Note ideas for next steps.

Analyze your preservice students’ pre/post testing results. Where do you see good progress and where do you have more work to do?

Gather your faculty for an indepth review. This might be a careful review and discussion of the action plan, or a full blown second round needs assessment. (We recommend doing another needs assessment after two years, not one.)