I noticed that a lot of the assessment measures on the proliteracy website were for programs that promoted functional literacy. So the links talk about things like tests to measure English fluency and questionnaires to test knowledge. Those types of things wouldn’t fit for a program like SpeakOut because of the need to have flexible, participant based goals and the generally creative nature of our workshops.
My sense is rather than evaluation, conversation and participation would be beneficial to keep programs like SpeakOut successful. Participants should have an agenda-setting goal and there should be time set aside for participants to give feedback and discuss whether their goals are being met. I think that having predetermined standards for assessment would not leave enough flexibility for the program to respond to the needs and interests of the participants.
It could be that I’m misunderstanding the concept of assessment in this context because I found the proliteracy website difficult to navigate. However my thoughts are that flexibility, reflection, and open conversation serve that purpose here.
I feel SpeakOut at the girls’ house is doing well along these lines. We try to respond to what the girls are interested in and we give them a lot of affirmation on their writing and we try to give them positive experiences with writing, which can be very meaningful for people who feel that what they have to say doesn’t matter. We spend time getting to know the girls as individuals and learn about their interests and strengths. One thing we could do better is set aside more time for agenda setting—while we ask for suggestions and feedback, we’ve never asked the girls to write up a list of the types of writing they’d like to explore or the types of projects they’d like to do. Maybe that’s how we’ll start our semester in January!