Technology & Learning, November/December 1998, p. 66

A community assessment program can provide valuable feedback and guidance for your school technology program. Here are seven key issues to address when forming one:

  1. Identify areas of assessment. Select an area of your technology program that could benefit from community-based assessment. Develop criteria by which projects are selected for judging.

  2. Determine assessment methods. Craft an evaluation and scoring system that is simple and easy to explain to community members. Decide the core levels at which projects should be judged, and incorporate these criteria into the ratings system.

  3. Select judges. Choose key stakeholders who can do the job well. A mix of educators and business people who support education technology initiatives is always a good place to start.

  4. Train judges. Since your community judges probably won’t have a lot of spare time to spend on training and orientation, keep things simple and straightforward. Instead of spreading out training sessions and judging over a couple of days, dedicate one full day for the entire program, starting with a continental breakfast and orientation in the morning.

  5. Map out presentation schedules. Determine how much time the panel will need to spend to evaluate each student group. This will depend on the nature of the presentations and projects.

  6. Channel results. Use scores for internal benchmarking and identification of trends. Give students general evaluations without scores, and include suggestions for areas of improvement on future projects.

  7. Prepare for critics. Have responses ready for people who question whether outside judges can assess student performance and whether such short training sessions can adequately prepare them. Also realize that this method is not overly scientific and is just one of many assessment methods available to you.