Lessons Learned from the Field of Practice

Part 2: Interview Questions: Program Evaluation Implementation

  1. Interview with program leader

Kristen Johnson is the principal of Blue School in New York. She has been a teacher for many years and she identifies her favorite place to be the classroom. In her choice of being an educator, she endeavors to work cooperatively with all stakeholders to establish a learning environment that is inspiring and nurturing. She holds a BS in psychology from SUNY Binghamton alongside a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Touro University.

Regarding program evaluation, Kristen explains that public schools in New York are expected to undergo NAEYC Accreditation program to improve the quality and operations of the institutions. However, the success of this program depends on the cooperation of the stakeholders. Mrs. Kristen states that her responsibility in the accreditation process was overseeing the whole process and ensuring that all staff work collaboratively.  

Interview Questions

  1. When did your program go through accreditation?

According to Kristen Johnson, the accreditation program at her institution was initiated in 2010.

  1. Why did your program decide to seek accreditation? What did you hope to achieve? Have you had other experiences with program evaluation, either internal or external?

The aim of this endeavor according to Kristen was to improve the quality of child care centers within New York. Concerning her experiences, Mrs Kristen says that indeed, going through an accreditation process is not only a daunting task but a comprehensive one.  As the director, you could either feel invigorated or overwhelming obtaining the necessary resources and at times, you may find it hard to comply with all the requirements.

  1. Broader:  In your experience, what motivates most programs to go through accreditation?  In your locality, what incentives are encouraging them to pursue accreditation beyond the benefits they get from a good rating?

The key motivation is the financial support from various organizations such as Childcare Matters, DVAECY and NACY and other agencies who support children from low income backgrounds. In order to easily receive such support, childcare organizations have to be accredited and meet the necessary quality standards.

  1. Was it made clear to you what all the steps of the process would be and what would happen during the visit? What were the biggest challenges in going through the accreditation process—from beginning to end? 

Mrs. Kristen claim that the program nor its process was not made clear to her. However, she was informed that it was generally an exchange of knowledge, between large centers verses small centers. She has not figured out that this was a quality evaluation and improvement initiative.

Program Leader: What did you as the program leader do to support, motivate, and engage your staff (and the families)?

Mrs. Kristen worked to engage the key stakeholders by sharing important information and emphasizing to them the necessity to work as a team.

Stakeholder: Did you feel supported, motivated, and engaged during the process? How? Or Why not?

The respondent states that she was fully engaged since they were allowed to ask questions and receive feedback. She explains that she found the national AEYC to be very responsive and supportive upon calling them.

  1. What were the positive aspects of going through the process for your program?

The moral and financial boost, alongside the opportunity to give feedback through this process.

  1. What are the biggest challenges programs face, do you think, in going through the accreditation process?

The key challenge was too much paperwork that the whole accreditation process involved

  1. What did you learn from the results of the information provided during or after the accreditation visit? How did you use this information?  {Probe to see if they revised the curriculum, environment or other components, changed staff, modified staff training, did anything different with families or the community

Generally, it’s really an exchange of knowledge, both in large centers verses small centers and non-profit centers verses profit centers. Another lesson from this experience was that program leaders and implementers need to share and work together for effective performance. The key benefit out of this process was development of partnership with the key stakeholders and highlighting the essentiality of collaboration.

  1. Summing up your total experience with accreditation, how would you describe it to another program thinking of doing it.Are there any aspects of program quality that you think should be included in accreditation or other evaluations that were not in the accreditation process your program did?

Organizations thinking of doing accreditation should go on with the idea. It is one way of creating collaboration and sharing knowledge. More so, it would provide financial boost owing to improvement of quality.

B: Interview with stakeholder

The second interview was carried out with Tom Samson, a community member who is duly involved with the accreditation program at a New York School.

 When did your program go through accreditation?

The program was initiated at our school in 2007.

  1. Why did your program decide to seek accreditation? What did you hope to achieve? Have you had other experiences with program evaluation, either internal or external?

Mr. Tomson states that the focus was to transform the institution from the analogue world into a digital platform. This involved the use of computerization in documentation process, and helping staff to acquaint themselves with the digital technology.

Broader:  In your experience, what motivates most programs to go through accreditation?  In your locality, what incentives are encouraging them to pursue accreditation beyond the benefits they get from a good rating?

According to Mr. Tomson the major motivation is derived from the support for accreditation from various non-governmental organizations.

 Was it made clear to you what all the steps of the process would be and what would happen during the visit? What were the biggest challenges in going through the accreditation process—from beginning to end? 

No, we didn’t figure out what the whole process would be. The biggest challenge to our program was lack of resources. Therefore, the necessary resources had to be looked for in order to make the program a success.

Stakeholder: Did you feel supported, motivated, and engaged during the process? How? Or Why not?

Mr Tomson reveals that while at the program he was duly supported by the program leader, staff and other stakeholders.

 What were the positive aspects of going through the process for your program?

According to Tomson, there has been improvement in terms of quality ever since the program was initiated at the institution.

  1. What are the biggest challenges programs face, do you think, in going through the accreditation process?

The biggest challenge according to Tomson arriving out of the implementation of the program  is that all the staff including classroom teachers have to be involved in the program thus hindering the immediate teaching practice. Nonetheless, he does not see any problem going through the accreditation process.

  1. What did you learn from the results of the information provided during or after the accreditation visit? How did you use this information?  {Probe to see if they revised the curriculum, environment or other components, changed staff, modified staff training, did anything different with families or the community]

The greatest lesson from this program as outlined by Tomson was a shift from analogue to digital platforms. Those working on this program relied on the digital platforms for technical support, resource retrieval among others.

  1. Summing up your total experience with accreditation, how would you describe it to another program thinking of doing it. Are there any aspects of program quality that you think should be included in accreditation or other evaluations that were not in the accreditation process your program did?

Regarding this, Mr. Tomson reiterates that for now, this should not be a choice but a requirement for every learning institution. However, other programs need to understand that the success of this depends on teamwork, whereby; various stakeholders including administrators and staffs need to be involved accordingly.

Reflection

From this discussion, it is clear that both Mr. Tomson and Kristen Johnson were fully involved in the accreditation program. Therefore, they have rich experiences and insights to share. An important aspect that can be learnt from this discussion is the need for collaboration by stakeholders as the basis of program success. This collaboration can be with other staff, subordinate staff, program administrators, their supervisors, the community and the families of students.

Catlin, C. (2009). In Jacobson, L. (2009).Pursuing NAEYC Accreditation

: Teachers’Perspectives. Young Children September 2009.

Doy,  M. (2016). Implementation Experiences – Program Transcript. Laureate Education, Inc

Jacobson, L. (2009).Pursuing NAEYC Accreditation: Teachers’Perspectives. Young Children

September 2009

Jacobson, L. (2009). Reflections on the NAEYC Accreditation Process. Young Children

July 2009

The National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2011).  Celebrating 25 Years of

NAEYC Accreditation of Programs for Young Children

Available from www.naeyc.org/yc/permissions

Program Evaluation Implementation