Evaluation of a Special Education Professional Development Program

Publication Date01 March 2009
Date01 March 2009
AuthorEileen Piggot-Irvine
SubjectRefereed Article
20 Evaluation Journal of Australasia, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2009
Evaluation Journal of Australasia, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2009, pp. 20–30
Evaluation of a special education
professional development program
Part 2: Success Case studies
An earlier article in EJA (Piggot-Irvine 2008) reported
on the background, methodology and overall results
for an evaluation study of a special education teacher
professional development project that involved action
research (AR) or action learning (AL). The ‘Success
Case study’ component that constituted the third
phase of the evaluation is reported here. The Success
Case studies conf‌irmed the most signif‌icant outcome
of the previous survey (Phase 1) and focus group
(Phase 2), that is, an overwhelming willingness of staff
and supporters to see students with special education
needs excel. Additional distinctive elements emerged
that were common to all Success Case schools and
the most signif‌icant included that: projects were at a
small-scale, manageable, level; the classic stages of
AR and AL were followed, even though schools may
not have been aware of these stages; data/evidence
was used to examine both the current situation and
outcomes; and ‘best practice’ and/or a relevant
literature underpinned this examination.
This article initially refers brief‌ly to the background to the evaluation
contract for the national Ministry of Education (Ministry) funded
professional development program conducted for special education teachers
over 14 months in New Zealand (NZ). This is followed by discussion of
the methodological considerations associated with the Success Case Method
(SCM) design, but associated specif‌ically with data collection methods,
sampling processes and ethics. The results for each Success Case study school
are provided next and f‌inally overall conclusions drawn.
As noted in my previous article (Piggot-Irvine 2008), the development
program approach was designed to ‘develop teacher knowledge and share
ideas on how to support learners who require signif‌icant adaptation to
the curriculum content’ (Ministry of Education 2005a, p. 3). The key area
for investigation in the evaluation covered the impact of the development
program on student learning, social and cultural outcomes, as noted in the
following research brief. The review examined:
Eileen Piggot-Irvine
Eileen Piggot-Irvine is an Associate Professor
and Director of the New Zealand Action
Research and Review Centre (NZARRC) at the
Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland.
EJA_9_1.indb 20 18/10/09 10:34:19 PM

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