Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Coaching for impact

For support in thinking about the questions above or sharing how your district approaches these or similar questions, please contact Jaymie Randel,

Instructional coaches are often asked to update the school board about their work with teachers. Board members are curious about the difference coaching is making. Authors Diane Sweeney and Leanna Harris in their book, "The Essential Guide for Student-Centered Coaching," devote an entire chapter to the importance of understanding the impact of coaching. They address impact for students, accountability to stakeholders, and coach efficacy. They ask the questions:

  1. What is the biggest and most profound impact coaching is having on student learning?
  2. How do stakeholders know the investment in coaching is making a difference?
  3. How do coaches know their impact?

Sweeney and Harris suggest using pre- and post-assessments as an instructional tool to measure student growth over the course of a coaching cycle. They stress the importance of formatively assessing students throughout the coaching cycle. “When we co-plan with teachers each week, we use evidence to see where students are relative to the goal. We then use that information to plan instruction that is responsive to the students needs” (page, 49).

The New Teacher Center coaching model adds the lens of equity with formative assessment practices. Coaches using this model support teachers with identifying patterns or trends related to students' race, gender, language, identified learning needs, and/or culture. When coaches are planning with teachers they support teachers with making instructional decisions to ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful with grade-level content.

The point is that classroom assessment of student learning can provide valuable information about the impact coaching is having on student learning, teacher practice, and coach efficacy. It all starts with clear and measurable outcomes for students and teachers and goals for coaching.


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