Using Your Data to Improve Your Program Services December 8 - 12, 2008

Discussion Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

I'm pleased to announce the following Guest Panel Discussion, which will be held during the week of December 8.

Topic: Using Your Data to Improve Your Program Services

The panel will discuss how they use their program data to identify successes and challenges, plan for improvements, implement change, garner more resources, and inform stakeholders of their program outcomes.

Donielle Cole, Vivian Copsey, and Lori Keefer provide leadership for programs that have been selected to serve as Model Programs for the Dollar General/ProLiteracy Performance Accountability Initiative, a three-year project whose goal is to connect programs nationwide with a variety of resources and services for using data for program improvement.

Cathay Reta is a content expert and the principle trainer for the Dollar General/ProLiteracy Performance Accountability Initiative.

Guest Participants

Donielle Cole currently serves as the Family Literacy Project Facilitator for the Hawthorne School District. Ms. Cole has more than fifteen years of experience working with students and families. Hawthorne Family Literacy Program provides comprehensive integrated family literacy services in adult education, parenting education, early childhood education and parent and child interactive literacy activities. The program operates at 3 school sites. HFLP has received numerous awards and recognition from local, state and national agencies for exemplary service to children and families.

Vivian Copsey is the Allen Community College Adult Education Coordinator in Iola, Kansas. Services provided at the main site and two outreach sites include basic skills in reading, writing, math and technology, GED preparation, work place skills, English for speakers of other languages, homework help for parents, and college readiness.

Lori Keefer is the program director of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. She has worked with GPLC for 10 years. GPLC serves 2500 students annually through their volunteer based and classroom based programs. In addition to supervising program operations, Lori is coordinates the program improvement efforts, assists with training, and serves on the board of PAACE (Pennsylvania Association of Adult and Continuing Education).

Cathay Reta draws from over 24 years of experience in adult literacy at local, statewide and national levels. She started as a volunteer tutor and soon became a literacy program administrator with experience working in library-based programs, adult school programs, and as Training Director for California Literacy. Cathay develops curriculum, presents workshops and consults with organizations on workplace literacy, train-the-trainer programs, and developing supervision and leadership skills.

Recommended preparations for this discussion

Please review a description of the Dollar General Performance Accountability Initiative

The topic areas for each module are:

  • Module 1: Data Collection and Management (Spring 2007)
  • Module 2: Data Analysis for Program Decision-Making (Spring 2008)
  • Module 3: Communicating Success to Stakeholders (Spring 2009)

The focus areas for Module 1 Data Collection and Management are:

  1. Student intake process
  2. Student goal setting
  3. Baseline or initial assessment
  4. Ongoing assessment at regular intervals
  5. Exit or post-instruction assessment
  6. Measurement of student goal achievement
  7. Follow-up surveys with former students
  8. Collection of attendance and participation data
  9. Secure data management system
  10. Data retrieval (ability to locate and display needed information quickly and easily)
  11. Staff training on the accountability system

The focus areas for Module 2 Data Analysis for Program Decision-Making are:

  1. Regularly checking the quality of collected data
  2. Analyzing program data and identifying trends
  3. Creating data reports that can be shared with various stakeholders including staff, funders, and the public
  4. Regularly sharing data with staff for purposes of improving classroom/program performance
  5. Forming decision-making teams of staff to work on particular areas of improvement
  6. Planning improvements in an organized, feasible way
  7. Piloting and monitoring changes based on the analysis of data
  8. Regularly reviewing data reports to ensure program quality and identify new areas for improvement
  9. Developing a plan for evaluating success
  10. Developing processes and strategies for data-driven program improvement

Please review the Model Program Case Studies

The Model Programs selected to serve in the Dollar General Performance Accountability Initiative provide the content for the face-to-face trainings and subsequent on-line courses available through the project. Between 5 and 8 Model Programs are selected for each of the 3 phases of the initiative. Model Programs complete an application and site visit as part of their selection process.

Please review the data collected on program practices

Programs participating in the initiative are required to complete a series of formative and summative evaluations. The evaluator responsible for conducting the external on-line evaluations is Hezel Associates ( Following are some excerpts of data collected on Modules 1 and 2.

Please review and fill out the program self assessment(s)

Programs fill out the self assessments in the face-to-face and on-line trainings to gauge where their strengths and needs lie.

For more information, go to ProLiteracy and Dollar General.

Resources of Interest

Please consider accessing these free self-paced courses available at

Data Collection and Management

This course focuses on the foundation practices needed to ensure the availability of credible, high-quality student data. Length: approximately 3-4 hours. This course will help you:

  • Build common language and approach to accountability
  • Organize collection and management efforts around key decision points and staff roles
  • Increase confidence in your program's data collection and management practices

Data Analysis for Program Decision-Making

This course helps administrators and staff learn why and how to institutionalize data-driven decision-making practices. Length: approximately 3-4 hours. This course will help you:

  • Review and practice data analysis skills
  • Improve quality of decision-making through a team approach to data analysis and review
  • Streamline program improvement using practical planning tools and strategies

These online courses were made possible with support from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Please note: We do not control and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or accuracy of the materials provided by other agencies or organizations via links off-site, nor do we endorse other agencies or organizations, their views, products or services.