Step 4 - Monitor and Evaluate
Monitoring and evaluation are important tools to help you check your progress, adjust your plan for greater success, and provide credibility to your program.
This procedure for monitoring and evaluation should be developed in parallel with the development of your Eco-Action Plan. Monitoring will allow you to gather quantifiable data on your progress. This data can then be used to evaluate success and make any necessary modifications. It will also allow you to determine how long it has taken to achieve your goals. Involving students in the process provides them with a sense of ownership and a new set of tools and skills.
How can progress be measured?
Here are some suggestions to get you started. Invite students to come up with others to fit your school's goals.
Measure your school's global footprint. (Produces real data to show how effective your actions have been in relation to one or several Eco-Schools USA pathways including Waste, Energy, Climate Change, Travel and Water.)
Read meters and calculate savings on school energy bills. (Shows results of energy-saving efforts.)
Weigh or count trash, waste, and recycled items. (Shows the success of litter and recycling initiatives.)
Take photographs before, during and after improvement projects. (Documents the process and demonstrates progress.)
Create species lists before and after work on the school grounds. (Indicates habitat improvements.)
Track opinions, attitudes, and behaviors through questionnaires and surveys. (Shows changes in attitude and behavior over time.)
Monitoring progress is an excellent way to link to the curriculum (Step 5 of the Eco-Schools USA program), particularly in the areas of math, science, technology and language arts. Monitoring also develops other skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and team work.
Evaluation follows from monitoring. Evaluating the success of your activities will allow you to make changes to your Action Plan if required.
One very effective evaluation strategy is to carry out a follow-up Environmental Audit. You can use the same document and compare your new responses with your initial ones. This will give you a clear indication of the school's overall progress towards its targets and will help you to plan future objectives.
When targets are met, celebrate your success! Celebration is a powerful motivator. Recognize your school's achievements and disseminate these successes as widely as possible during school functions and within the wider local community, through websites, newsletters, newspaper articles, and other media.
- The Eco-Action Team identifies and monitors progress toward achieving actions stated in the Eco-Action Plan.
- Successes and challenges are noted in the formal record and archived for use when applying for the Green Flag award.
- The Eco-Action Team monitors and reviews progress against the Eco-Action Plan's set timeframe and targets.
- The school shows significant progress on one large-scale project that is focused on at least two Eco-Schools pathways.
- Progress and challenges are communicated to the whole school.
Green Flag Award
- The Eco-Action Team monitors and reviews progress against the Eco-Action Plan's timeframe and targets.
- Students are engaged in portions of monitoring and evaluation. Data is used in some curriculum work.
- School shows significant progress (i.e., school understands issues, recognizes value to sustainable development and has implemented change) on several large-scale projects addressing at least three Eco-Schools pathway.
- Progress and challenges are communicated to the whole school and wider community.
Sources: Eco-Schools Programme Ireland, Eco-Schools Programme Malta, Eco-Schools Programme Northern Ireland, Eco-Schools Programme Scotland