Why conduct an evaluation?
A financial education program without evaluation is similar to an explorer without a compass. Without a compass, an explorer is not able to decide whether he or she is on the right track. Without an evaluation, the educator is not able to decide whether the financial program is producing successful results and meeting the audience’s needs.
Evaluation can provide a number of benefits to the financial educator or the organization with the ultimate goal of benefiting the recipient of the financial education services. There are a number of reasons to conduct evaluation, including:
- Building a shared meaning (both internally and externally) about organizational goals
- Supporting data-driven decision making
- Promoting organizational improvement
- Measuring program performance and goal achievement
- Identifying effective practices in financial education
- Documenting findings for accountability purposes
- Fostering sustainability of the program or intervention
- Generating knowledge about financial education programs
Evaluation data can be used to make decisions about expansion, continuation, reduction or changes to current programs. Evaluation allows educators, administrators and funding agencies to make decisions about the program based on objective data. If an educator does not plan for evaluation at the beginning of the program or before services are provided, some information is lost that may have been useful for recording program outcomes and understanding the contributing factors to those outcomes. As a result, the educator is less able to make accurate decisions about the program, which hinders further improvement.