Evaluation is one of the most important procedures to provide decision-makers with the information regarding this or that educational program to be implemented in an institution. In the K-12 education, much attention is paid to improving students’ skills in reading, and administrators often discuss opportunities for adopting not only traditional but also alternative reading programs (Lindahl & Beach, 2013).
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Student Team Reading is a program oriented to developing students’ skills in reading, and it was developed by Robert Stevens about three decades ago (Gagnon & Barber, 2014). The revised program requires the evaluation in order to conclude about its appropriateness to be implemented in schools with the high number of immigrants as it should be compared with a range of recently developed reading programs. The evaluation can be conducted with the focus on the objectives-oriented, management-oriented, consumer-oriented, expertise-oriented, and participant-oriented approaches (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2011).
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the appropriateness of using the management-oriented approach to evaluating the Student Team Reading program with references to strengths and weaknesses of the approach.
Student Team Reading Program Description
Stevens developed the principles of the Student Team Reading program to be used in middle schools in 1989. The program is based on the idea of the cooperative learning, and students develop their reading skills while working in small teams. Students are involved in reading the materials interesting for them, receive the diverse instruction, develop the reading comprehension skills, and participate in partner reading, reading for understanding, and storytelling (Gagnon & Barber, 2014).
The program is adapted for culturally diverse student populations. The Student Team Reading is discussed by researchers as an effective reading program that allows developing the students’ skills in reading, interaction, and communication during a short period of time (Law, 2014; Matiasek & Luebke, 2014). The additional evaluation of the program in the modern context is important.
Rationale for Selecting the Management-Oriented Evaluation Approach
The management-oriented approach to the program evaluation is selected among other approaches as it is most appropriate in order to provide the information for decision-makers to conclude about the implementation of the program in the concrete institution (Lane, Windjue, & Mollica, 2013; Stukalina, 2012).
Although the Student Team Reading program was revised several times since 1989, it is important to evaluate its appropriateness to address the needs of diverse students in K-12 middle schools in different districts of the United States in contrast to the other reading programs proposed in addition to the traditional curriculum (Gagnon & Barber, 2014). The management-oriented approach is most effective to analyze the inputs and outputs of the program and provide administrators with the data on the program outcomes for their specific context.
Data Collection and Evaluation Methods of the Management-Oriented Approach
While applying the approach, an evaluator collects the data with the help of visits, observations, interviews, and reviews of the documentation related to the program and students’ results. The data collection is also guided by the evaluation protocols used to assess the program according to a range of set criteria (Ahmady, Lakeh, Esmaeilpoor, Arab, & Yaghmaei, 2014).
All the data are gathered to be further provided in the form of a report to school administrators who plan the implementation of the program in their K-12 institutions (Tunon, Ramirez, Ryckman, Campbell, & Mlinar, 2015). An evaluator also proposes the comments on the details of implementing the program in different contexts from the managerial perspective. This approach is effective as it allows evaluating the program from the point of its appropriateness for the certain student population and organizational settings.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Management-Oriented Evaluation Approach
The management-oriented approach has strengths and weaknesses as it discusses the evaluation process only from one perspective. The strengths of the approach are the provision of the detailed, concise, and straightforward data on the implementation of the program and its outcomes; the promotion of the decision regarding the program utilization; the limited subjectivity in the evaluation process due to using documents for the analysis (Fitzpatrick et al., 2011).
The weaknesses of the approach include the dependence on the formal protocols and criteria; the costs associated with conducting the evaluation based on visiting the sites and conducting interviews; the involvement of only administrators and managers in the process of evaluation (Iizuka, Barrett, Gillies, Cook, & Marinovic, 2015). The management-oriented approach is developed mainly for the decision-making, and it is limited in terms of involving many stakeholders. The evaluation with the help of this approach is usually conducted by administrators, and the assessment of the Student Team Reading program can be initiated by school authorities who plan the program integration in their districts.
Future Needs for Evaluation and Appropriateness of the Approach
The principles and instructions of the Student Team Reading program were formulated long ago, and the additional evaluation of the program’s effectiveness to address the needs and interests of the future students can be required. In the future, after the program implementation in the schools with the high percentage of immigrants, it will be necessary to evaluate the program in terms of its effectiveness to develop reading skills in diverse students. In this case, the participant-oriented approach will be used in order to analyze the actual results of the students associated with the program implementation (Hung, Hsu, & Rice, 2012).
If the program is planned to be adopted as the main reading program in the school, it is relevant to conduct the evaluation based on the expertise-oriented approach in order to present the required judgment and accreditation (Guerra-Lopez & Toker, 2012; Henry, Kershaw, Zulli, & Smith, 2012). The currently used management-oriented approach to evaluation is most helpful at the stage of deciding regarding the program implementation in the institution, with the focus on possible revisions and improvements.
The management-oriented approach can be used for evaluating the Student Team Reading program in a situation when school district authorities in different states of the country plan the implementation of the new alternative reading program to address the needs of immigrants and culturally or linguistically diverse students. In order to guarantee that the management-oriented approach is effectively realized, it is possible to recommend conducting evaluations in those institutions where the student population is similar to the population in the target school.
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The next recommendation to use is the organization of the additional survey regarding the stakeholders’ vision of the program’s effectiveness to support the assessment with the help of formal protocols. The survey can be conducted with the help of questionnaires that are provided to teachers, students, and their parents in order to receive the full picture related to the program’s effectiveness before its implementation or development.
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