Presentation on theme: "Terri Wyrosdick Larry Lipscomb Kermelle Hensley. Program evaluation is research designed to assess the implementation and effects of a program. Its."— Presentation transcript:
Program evaluation is research designed to assess the implementation and effects of a program. Its purposes vary and can include (1) program improvement, (2) judging the value of a program, (3) assessing the utility of particular components of a program, and (4) meeting accountability requirements
Results of program evaluations are often used for decisions about whether to continue a program, improve it, institute similar programs elsewhere, allocate resources among competing programs, or accept or reject a program approach or theory. Through these uses program evaluation is viewed as a way of rationalizing policy decision-making.
Program evaluation is conducted for a wide range of programs, from broad social programs such as welfare, to large multisite programs such as the preschool intervention program Head Start, to program funding streams such as the U.S. Department of Education's Title I program that gives millions of dollars to high-poverty schools, to small- scale programs with only one or a few sites such as a new mathematics curriculum in one school or district.
There has been some debate about the relationship between "basic" or scientific research and program evaluation. For example, in 1999 Peter Rossi, Howard Freeman, and Michael Lipsey described program evaluation as the application of scientific research methods to the assessment of the design and implementation of a program. In contrast, Michael Patton in 1997 described program evaluation not as the application of scientific research methods, but as the systematic collection of information about a program to inform decision-making.
in many circumstances the design of a program evaluation that is sufficient for answering evaluation questions and providing guidance to decision-makers would not meet the high standards of scientific research. Further, program evaluations are often not able to strictly follow the principles of scientific research because evaluators must confront the politics of changing actors and priorities, limited resources, short timelines, and imperfect program implementation.
Program evaluations must be designed to maximize the usefulness for decision-makers, whereas scientific research does not have this constraint. Both types of research might use the same methods or focus on the same subject, but scientific research can be formulated solely from intellectual curiosity, whereas evaluations must respond to the policy and program interests of stakeholders.
Although the main justification for program evaluation is its role in rationalizing policy, program evaluation results rarely have a direct impact on decision-making. This is because of the political nature of policy decision-making and because people are generally resistant to change.
While program evaluations may not directly affect decisions, evaluation does play a critical role in contributing to the discourse around a particular program or issue. Information generated from program evaluation helps to frame the policy debate by bringing conflict to the forefront, providing information about trade-offs, influencing assumptions and beliefs underlying policies, and changing the way people think about a specific issue or problem.