Educators today are bombarded with recommendations on the most effective products and strategies. Whether you’re surfing online or talking to a trusted expert, countless others will claim to know what’s best for you and your students. The only way to truly know what is effective in your classroom is to try the recommended tool or strategy for yourself.

A well-designed pilot program to gauge a product’s effectiveness can help districts, schools, and educators make decisions on which curricula to implement. Digital Promise, an organization devoted to closing the Digital Learning Gap, recently developed a helpful Eight-Step Framework to guide educators in developing pilot programs for ed-tech products. Briefly summarized, the eight steps are:

1. Identify need: The only way to determine if a product meets your needs is to first articulate exactly what your needs are.

2. Discover and select: Research various products, and hone in on those that meet the needs you’ve identified.

3. Plan: With all parties involved, develop a shared vision for a pilot program. Define goals, establish how data will be collected and used, create timelines, etc.

4. Train and implement: Strong implementation of a pilot program depends on solid training, support, and coaching for teachers.

5. Collect data: Abundant data, both quantitative (e.g., raw numbers) and qualitative (e.g., teacher feedback) will help determine whether the pilot program’s goals are met.

6. Analyze and decide: Analysis of the data will inform the decision on whether or not to purchase the product being piloted.

7. Negotiate and purchase: If the data supports purchasing the product, connect with the product developer to discuss your needs.

8. Summarize and share: To develop ongoing transparency and trust, clearly communicate the results of the pilot program with all parties involved. Support other schools and districts by sharing your results more widely.*

The Eight-Step Framework on Digital Promise's website gives more details on this process and provides educators with helpful tools and resources for implementing each step.

At Read Naturally, our mission is to help students succeed. The last thing we want is for educators to make a purchase only to realize a certain program is not the right fit. We provide detailed program descriptions, research, study results, and more on our website to show how and why our programs are effective in all kinds of classrooms and to guide educators in selecting the right one. We also offer completely free trials so that you can test out our programs before making a decision.

If you’re thinking of implementing a pilot program in your school or district and are considering Read Naturally, please get in touch to let us know how we can support you.

*The eight steps listed and described in this article were adapted from Digital Promise's Ed-Tech Pilot Framework