Program evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using information to answer basic questions about a program. While there are many different types of program evaluations, and many terms are used to describe them, evaluations are typically divided into two major categories: 1)      Formative: looks at a program in progress including how they are delivered and if it meets expectations. 2)      Summative: considers a program that has already concluded and whether the program achieved its goal. Why do we evaluate programs? There are many reasons why organizations decide it is time to undertake an evaluation for a program:
  • learn what we are doing well or not doing well,
  • understand what needs to be changed or what we need to stop doing,
  • increase efficiency,
  • satisfy funders,
  • decision making (e.g. prioritizing budgets),
  • identify gaps and assess needs,
  • or achieve organization goals.
Program evalution has many benefits for an organization.  Each organization has a unique purpose for wanting to evaluate a particular program but surprisingly, some programs are not ready for evaluation! Before the formal evaluation process even begins, organizations should consider the readiness of the program to be evaluated through an evaluability assessment (EA). An EA takes place “pre-evaluation,” but is a key part of the evaluation process. The idea of “evaluability” was developed in the 1970’s by Joseph Wholey because many programs did not have well articulated goals or objectives and were underdeveloped. The purpose of EA is to decide whether an evaluation is worthwhile by establishing whether a program or policy is ready to be evaluated and what might be the barriers to effective and useful evaluation. The EA can be used to clarify goals and get everyone—the organization, staff, volunteers, stakeholders—on the same page. Read Part 2 in the following blog: Pre-Evaluation Assessment Steps Sources Ohio University Regional Nonprofit Alliance. (2011). “Evaluation- The Basics.” Retrieved from: Leviton, L.C. (2006). “Evaluability Assessment: Practice and Potential.” Presentation. Retrieved from: Moses, L.G. & Hansen, M.S. (2010). “Evaluating Programs: Great Programs from Birth to Maturity.” MNCN Conference. Presentation. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (2003). The Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation. Washington, DC.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine