Well it is that time of year.  When educators breathe a sigh of relief as they have finished up their current school year and begin preparing for the next year…looking forward to hopefully a welcome summer break but realizing fall is just around the corner. But, not all administrators are breathing easily yet…Professional Development, Curriculum Directors and Managers as well as many school Superintendents find this time of year can be quite taxing due to the stresses associated to accurately tracking professional development.
State regulations and school policies drive the need to close out existing school year professional development plans and set up the new school year.  This includes ensuring teachers have curriculum ready to go that meet their state and school district’s requirements.  This is a tough task if school districts are not using tools designed to easily allow for professional development tracking.
Why is it that school districts across the country are struggling with managing professional development reporting (PD) effectively, and this time of year can be quite frustrating?  We found that there are many tools out there today, that schools try to use but most are completely ineffective.  Since 2002 when we developed our KALPA Professional Development System, we have witnessed no shortage of ubiquitous tools we have converted from as new customers choose our professional development focused platform.  Some tools are meant for other purposes, such as Microsoft Word or Excel spreadsheets or calendaring solutions that “market” under the PD mask. Others are integrated full blown HR and Education solutions that “market” a good game, but frankly don’t understand professional development and the nuances of each state’s variances.  If they can’t talk the language of your state requirements—it is your first clue to run and widen the search net!
Being effective at managing professional development through technology, enables educators to develop the knowledge and skills they need to address students’ learning challenges and needs. To be effective, professional development systems require thoughtful planning based on feedback from administrators and teachers—followed by careful implementation with constant feedback to ensure it responds to educators’ learning needs. Educators who participate in professional development then can put their new knowledge and skills to work. Professional development is not effective unless it drives teachers to improve their instruction or improves administrators to become better school leaders.
Why are so many school districts choosing tools that are meant for writing letters, doing financial statements or booking meeting rooms?  From our vast experience, it is because administrators and HR staff are not familiar with effective, cost affordable, alternative solutions to managing PD or it simply seems overwhelming to try to find the right solution that “just fits”.  Solutions such as our KALPA PDMS tool are foreign to many—and administrators are often told they need a fully integrated HR tool set to solve their problem.  School districts often over buy and cannot truly afford this type of solution.  I equate this type of purchase to a homeowner buying new carpeting for their entire home when they only really needed a remnant for their front door.
At KALPA, we take a turnkey approach to implementing our Professional Development Management System (PDMS), so it’s a perfect fit for your teachers, administrators, and staff.
No matter what solution you choose—it is critical you find a partner who truly knows the ins and outs of professional development – from registration and attendance to tracking, reporting and compliance.  Before you buy a solution—There are a handful of key things you must consider before you pick the right system.  Check out our TOP 12 LIST when you are evaluating a Professional Development Management System.  Follow our advice and it will provide you the “easy way” to success:

Top 12 List of Things to Consider for PD Reporting Software

  1. Do they have experts that can talk your language who understand PD – but also clearly understand your state’s PD tracking and reporting requirements
  2. How seamless and easy-to-use is the solution? Is it configurable to track the various nuances and “flavors” of PD you require?
  3. Can you pre-register or assign users to various PD activities based on building or type of teacher?
  4. Does it allow users to submit their own PD into their plan, replacing your paper-based conference request process?
  5. Does it have simple “Sign-up and Validation” steps to make checking in and out easy?
  6. Does it have survey capability allowing for automatic qualitative feedback on curriculum?
  7. Will the company import your existing data so all your PD history is in one place?
  8. Will they handle all set-up and implementation so you can be sure your system is working and effective from day one?
  9. Does it have customizable reports for supervisors, admins, teachers and district summary reports?
  10. Does the solution integrate with your network or Google login to avoid additional passwords?
  11. Is it a Software as a Service (SAAS) product to avoid hardware/software installs, licensing fees and unnecessary upgrades and customization hassles?
  12. Lastly, is it affordable? If you are paying more than $15/license per year—you should definitely shop around.

 
Ensuring you are truly picking a partner who has extensive knowledge of the PD landscape and will tailor their customer service to you, will make your life much easier in the long run.  This will differentiate great products and companies from other tracking solutions.
If you chose the right solution…you will greatly feel the relief and no longer dread the end of year close out and new school year start-up.  You can truly focus on the curriculum and building stronger students.