I truly believe that teaching or planning without data is like tossing a handful of darts and hoping that one hits the target, whatever or wherever t

I truly believe that teaching or planning without data is like tossing a handful of darts and hoping that one hits the target, whatever or wherever that might be! The data is like a GPS system that guides our planning and hard work directly to the target. How can we miss?

—Head Start/Early Head Start Director, Region VIII
Reflect on the quote which begins this Discussion. As you think about your time in the early childhood field, to which analogy do you feel your experiences with teaching and programmatic planning fit? Have your program’s strategies, interventions, and initiatives felt more like playing a game of darts, launching each and hoping that one lands on a positive outcome; or, have they been navigated toward a cumulative goal to which you were aware before your program’s journey even began?
As you have been exploring in this module, the act of conducting program evaluations is an ongoing and essential process for any program which is quality-driven. Why then, might some programs still be participating in a game of darts? What challenges or barriers might prevent programs from using data to build upon their strengths and focus improvement efforts?
In this Discussion, you share your own experiences with program evaluation. Specifically, you share barriers and challenges which impacted a program that you have observed, been a part of, or heard about.
To prepare
Review the NAEYC article/Position Statement titled “Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation: Building an Effective, Accountable System in Programs for Children Birth Through Age 8,” which explores the rationales for and indicators of effective program evaluation. Then, consider your own experiences with program evaluation. With respect to a program you know well, what need did the evaluation address? What barriers or challenges did the program experience while preparing for or participating in the evaluation?
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