Although the Center’s significance and success is apparent from its longevity and the high regard of the community, formal evaluation is important. Formal evaluation takes place routinely on three levels.
Assessment: Most students come to the Center with a long paper trail of clinical assessments and evaluations that have followed them from acute care and throughout their in- and out-patient medical rehabilitation. Center therapists are sensitive to the potential students’ probable “evaluation fatigue.” Each department uses a variety of tools and procedures. Many of these tools andprocedures are available to download from this site in the Keys to Replication webpages.
The purpose of the assessment day is to gain the information needed to:
- Assist the student in choosing appropriate classes;
- Establish a baseline for ongoing evaluation of treatment;
- Determine if any safety precautions need to be put in place;
- Develop the student’s Individual Educational Plan or IEP.
Outcomes: Outcome-based evaluation has replaced student-goal based assessment in clinical, research and educational settings. Although the IEP is still a contract between the educational institution and the student’s goals, measurable outcomes of therapy and instruction are also required and desirable. Establishing and measuring outcomes in a multi-disciplinary setting where there is minimal time and money to focus on concerns other than the immediate needs of students is difficult. And, there are very few scientifically valid and reliable assessment tools currently available. However, some outcomes are readily measurable and not infrequent at the Center. It is easy and dramatic to provide outcome statements based on biological and physical factors such as regaining the ability to walk and construct novel utterances. It is more challenging to accurately assess more subtle functional outcomes such as how a student is able to integrate therapeutic interventions that lead to an improved quality of life. Center staff is working with the assistance of the college, the non-profit, medical and research communities to discover and utilize a full range of effective outcome measures.
IEPs: IEPs are the formal basis for evaluation at the Center. The current form was developed by the Center staff and reflects a year of intensive work to design a format that could be used across disciplines and that would reflect student outcomes in each class and in the program as a whole. The Center's unique IEP form is available to download in the Keys to Replication webpages.
Substantial support from local government is received on an annual basis from the four cities and the County of Santa Cruz. Applications for continued funding are completed each year. These applications require that proposed expenditures be clearly defined and designated. In addition, evidence of progress in the realm of cultural competency is required. Quantifiable measures of program goals and client outcomes are defined and submitted by the Center each year to each jurisdiction. Reports are required and submitted on a quarterly basis.
The County of Santa Cruz conducts a detailed audit of the program every two years. This consists of a review of all Center records and an onsite visit. Any discrepancies are reported to the County Board of Supervisors at a public meeting
Finally, elected officials are frequent visitors to the Center. Also, parents, relatives and friends of elected officials have been students of the Center. This personal evaluation, if informal, evaluation of the Center and its program are perhaps the most powerful and effective measures of the Center’s ongoing contribution to the community.
Faculty and staff are formally evaluated on a regular basis. A team composed of peers and their immediate supervisor evaluates faculty. Tenure is granted to contract faculty after two years of successful employment. However, the standard evaluation procedures continue throughout each faculty member's career. Students participate in the evaluation of faculty. Rather than using the standard evaluation form utilized on the main campus, students at the Center are surveyed using a modified procedure that is structured like a focus group.
Immediate supervisors evaluate staff. Evaluation procedures are extensive and are specified in the contacts negotiated between the college and the relevant unions.