Evaluation and Improvement

Early childhood programs that serve the needs of the public face continual changes brought on by social, political, and economic forces. To navigate these changes, and to improve services and outcomes for children, state organizations may seek to evaluate their programs. Listed below are four common reasons state leaders seek to evaluate state programs:[1]

  • Assessment of merit and worth to review a program’s merit and value to society so that funders, policymakers, and communities know what it does and how it benefits participants
  • Program and organizational improvement to enhance the organization and its services through continuous quality improvement by identifying weaknesses as well as strengths
  • Oversight and compliance to ensure a program follows mandates and is faithful to the intervention model
  • Field knowledge and development to build knowledge and expertise about what does and does not work for the benefit of the field and future programs

Despite these important purposes and benefits, program leaders and staff may be hesitant to evaluate their programs. Their reluctance can be related to costs of evaluation, their past experiences with evaluation, or insufficient understanding of the evaluation process.

 

[1] Mark, M. M., Henry, G. T., & Julnes, G. (2000). Evaluation: An integrated framework for understanding, guiding, and improving policies and programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.