Preservice Program Improvement Process

Keene State College and Plymouth State University used a common program improvement process in their preservice special education certification programs. Move through the tabs for an overview and details 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, 2018).


Keene State College and Plymouth State University collaboration

One goal of the Next Steps NH project was 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.

In the second year, Plymouth State University began work with Keene’s materials and process. For the rest of the project the two institutions worked together to improve their own programs and develop tools to share with others.

Conduct program review and/or needs assessment

Step 1 is to conduct a program review to identify and assess your current practices in each preservice transition competency area. Note needs and ideas for improvement. We offer a tool, Transition Competency Needs Assessment (PDF, 12 pages), to use for this. Needs Assessment in MSWord format

Another option for reviewing your program is CEEDAR’s Teacher Preparation to Deliver Evidence-Based Transition Planning and Services to Youth With Disabilities (PDF, 58 pages, 2014). It features an innovation configuration (IC) matrix that can guide teacher preparation professionals in the development of appropriate transition planning and services content.

Prioritize program improvement needs

Step 2 is to prioritize your program improvement needs. Complete the Implementation Levels Summary (PDF, 1 page) to see a one-page overview of your current implementation levels. Implementation levels summary in Excel format

From there, develop possible action items and remember that you can’t do everything in one year.

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 addresses your highest priority areas. Map in MSWord format

Develop yearly action plan

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

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

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.

Updated 5/26/22