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VI. RESULTS FROM SITE VISITS

Regular Program Assessments and Quality Control

Quality control evaluations in the five promising-practices States focus on two primary areas: (1) monitoring equipment and training locations and (2) monitoring instruction delivered to students. Assessment procedures vary across the five States depending on the organization of the rider education programs. In States such as Maryland and Nevada, for instance, where responsibility for day-to-day training operations is assigned primarily to contractors, site managers at the contracted locations monitor equipment and review instructor performance. Information collected from the site administrators is then forwarded to the State rider education offices.

Additionally, State programs in Maryland and Nevada review performance of sites throughout the training season. In Nevada, three chief instructors schedule visits with each training site twice a year. During these visits, sites must provide an inventory of State property and proof of insurance, and demonstrate the range meets legal requirements. The chief instructors also observe classroom sessions. The Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program employs four quality assurance supervisors, who randomly check training sites in the region to which they are assigned. As in Nevada, the goals of the visits are to evaluate both the condition of the equipment and ranges and to monitor instruction. A Maryland administrator summarized the
goals of the quality assurance system:

“Our goal [is] that if you [take] the first part of the course at our center at
Allegheny College, and finish it all the way down in Salisbury [over 200
miles away], other than a little change in humidity, there shouldn’t be that
much of a difference in what you’re getting.”

Team Oregon staff also closely monitors State training sites once a year through Site Compliance Audits (SCA), a 109-point checklist that encompasses equipment review and evaluation of instruction techniques. In addition to the SCA, Team Oregon also maintains a detailed database with information about the history, condition, and repair records of its fleet of motorcycles.

All five States use student evaluations of instructors as another means of assessing training quality. In Delaware and Idaho, where the staff of instructors is smaller than in the other promising-practices States, each instructor is evaluated during the training season by a representative from the State rider training program. An Idaho STAR instructor commented on the Technical Assistance Reviews (TARs), which are designed in part to make certain that instructors closely follow the specified curriculum over the course of the training season:

“A Chief Instructor monitors you on the classroom and the range. We’re
‘TARed’ once a year. They watch you, they make sure you’re covering the
material and meeting the standards and at the end of the weekend you get
your review ‘out-brief.’ It fixes instructor drift—there are reasons behind
each step of the process.”

Instructors in the promising-practices States remarked that they appreciated the reviews of their performances in the classroom and on the range. Even instructors who had been teaching for many years recognized their techniques could use refreshment and refinement. Further, several instructors commented they felt comfortable bringing up questions and issues with the State administrator. One instructor explained:

“I like to know how I’m doing. We each give feedback to each other—
informal self-critiquing. [The State administrator] encourages us to correct
each other. If you have a question about something we’re doing, he’ll
always explain. He’ll never brush it off or make you feel dumb.”

In addition to maintaining good relationships with administrators from the rider education program, several instructors mentioned that colleagues were another source for monitoring quality of training. This may occur informally, through instructor social networks where instructors talk about how to handle situations that arise in the classroom or on the range. Additionally, Maryland and Oregon have implemented mentoring programs for instructors. On the basis of the recommendation of another instructor or through a quality control visit, an instructor may be assigned a mentor. The mentor shadows the instructor, providing input about how skills could be enhanced. Instructors in Maryland and Oregon had positive reactions to mentorship programs. One instructor remarked, “If we do have instructors that are outside the parameters, they get put with mentors that are pretty direct and able to guide them back on track.... The real focus is the students.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Quality control evaluations focus on monitoring equipment and training locations and on monitoring the instruction delivered to students.

  • States use student evaluations of instructors to assess training quality. In Delaware and Idaho, representatives from the rider training programs evaluate each instructor at least once during the training season.

  • Programs in Maryland and Oregon use instructor mentoring programs

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