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Policy Impact Evaluation

C omparison Groups In many cases, you may be able only to assert some contribution of the policy to the outcomes and impacts. Using comparison groups is one method that can increase your confidence that the policy is responsible for the change in indicators. A comparison between groups whose members have not been randomly assigned is known as non-equivalent comparison design. Although groups similar to the community or group being affected by the policy may be selected, the groups are not equivalent, regardless of how similar they may appear. Some additional steps may be required during analyses and interpretation to demonstrate the appropriateness of the comparison group.7 If you are unable to compare a group affected by a policy with a group not affected by a policy, you may be able to make comparisons between the groups that have been affected by a policy. For example, an evaluation may compare the impact of a universal school-based violence prevention policy between different schools, different grade levels, or different levels of implementation. Evaluation of Cost Versus Benefit8 Economic evaluation methods compare the costs of the policy with the resulting benefits. These methods are used in conjunction with the designs described above because they are dependent upon understanding the amount and types of changes that occurred as a result of the program. Economic evaluations attempt to place a value on these changes and then compare this value with the cost of implementing the program. Two types of economic evaluations are cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness studies. Cost-benefit studies estimate and compare the cost of a policy with the value of the benefit of the policy. Cost-effectiveness studies examine the cost-\ of implementing policy in relation to the resulting positive outcomes or impacts, often in comparison