www.observe4success.com • Retail Price: $1,200 per year, per school (volume discounts available)
Observe4success is a Web-based observation and evaluation software tool that is primarily geared for school administrators to assess teachers and staff. It is customizable to meet the user’s needs, making it possible to build a personalized assessment system.
Quality and Effectiveness: Observe4success is all about simplicity and allows those who have little or no familiarity with data collection software to start using it immediately.
Ease of Use: Users can simply choose the templates that observe4success has already created by offering content that they’ve put together. (These templates are based on educational research from more than 14 researchers who developed a complete and comprehensive look at what is happening in all aspects of the classroom.) These categories themselves can be further refined just by clicking or un-clicking categories or subcategories that the user would like included in their own reports.
Creative Use of Technology: Users have a number of choices for collecting their data. Their forms can be short for “Three-Minute Walkthroughs” or much “beefier” for longer observations. Data can be collected in a variety of ways, such as checkboxes, 3-7 point scales, dropdowns that are filled in with your own criteria), and even a timer. Users can have a variety of different forms and a variety of “observers.” Observe4success even supplied a “Peer Visitation Form” for colleagues to give feedback as well.
The real benefit from observe4success takes place when all the data has been collected as there are a myriad of ways to aggregate and make meaning from the data. For instance, as an administrator, one could look at growth from an individual teacher over time or look at an entire grade level’s growth for a specific teacher. These data can also extend out to subject areas, complete schools, and even the entire district.
Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Clients of observe4success are given a wonderful live demo with a customer support representative who is available to help set up your system. However, it would be nice to support this offering with video tutorials on each feature for when users need reteaching.
The greatest feature that observe4success offers is that you, the user, have complete control over editing, modifying, or creating as many different types of forms as you’d like with no additional fee. You will have complete access to the creation of the forms. Many other companies would charge for your own individualized needs; but observe4success doesn’t because they put you in charge of its creation. Reports from all data collection can be exported and viewed in many different forms (e.g., graphs, .cvs files, scales).
One feature that I’d love to see included is a way for those being observed to also be able to have input into the observation report. In other words, providing an area where the teacher could explain in writing exactly what was happening during a part of the lesson that perhaps the administrator might have misinterpreted. That would surely advance the goal of conversation for this product.
• Works on any device that can connect to a browser on the Internet.
• All data is safely backed up at observe4success.
• Completely customizable for each district, school, or administrator’s needs— this is especially important as we start to embrace Common Core and STEM standards.
OVERALL RATING: Even though you’re given plenty of support and a live demo from observe4success, its power is in its simplicity and intuitive setup for anyone to quickly create a new observation form.