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developed programme evaluation

WHY EVALUATE COMMUNITY HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS?

The type of evaluation we talk about in this section can be closely tied to everyday program operations. Our emphasis is on practical, ongoing evaluation that involves program staff, community members, and other stakeholders, not just evaluation experts. This type of evaluation offers many advantages for community health and development professionals.

For example, it complements program management by:

  • Helping to clarify program plans
  • Improving communication among partners
  • Gathering the feedback needed to improve and be accountable for program effectiveness

It’s important to remember, too, that evaluation is not a new activity for those of us working to improve our communities. In fact, we assess the merit of our work all the time when we ask questions, consult partners, make assessments based on feedback, and then use those judgments to improve our work. When the stakes are low, this type of informal evaluation might be enough. However, when the stakes are raised – when a good deal of time or money is involved, or when many people may be affected – then it may make sense for your organization to use evaluation procedures that are more formal, visible, and justifiable.

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE A SPECIFIC PROGRAM?

BEFORE YOUR ORGANIZATION STARTS WITH A PROGRAM EVALUATION, YOUR GROUP SHOULD BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT THE ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

  • What will be evaluated?
  • What criteria will be used to judge program performance?
  • What standards of performance on the criteria must be reached for the program to be considered successful?
  • What evidence will indicate performance on the criteria relative to the standards?
  • What conclusions about program performance are justified based on the available evidence?

To clarify the meaning of each, let’s look at some of the answers for Drive Smart, a hypothetical program begun to stop drunk driving.

  • What will be evaluated?
    • Drive Smart, a program focused on reducing drunk driving through public education and intervention.
  • What criteria will be used to judge program performance?
    • The number of community residents who are familiar with the program and its goals
    • The number of people who use “Safe Rides” volunteer taxis to get home
    • The percentage of people who report drinking and driving
    • The reported number of single car night time crashes (This is a common way to try to determine if the number of people who drive drunk is changing)