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Evaluation Manual

Who should conduct the evaluation?

To face the challenges in collecting data, the educator must develop evaluation capacity, including an understanding of evaluation concepts and the ability to meaningfully engage in an evaluation of financial education programs. Building evaluation capacity is essential for planning and implementing data collection processes practically, meaningfully and accurately. This manual is intended to promote evaluation capacity for those who are conducting evaluations on their own projects, interventions or programs.

There are some instances when an educator or program might benefit from external evaluation assistance, such as hiring an evaluation professional to assist with or conduct the evaluation. An external evaluator can be useful when an educator does not possess sufficient capacity, knowledge or resources to conduct the necessary evaluation. The evaluation team should be established prior to conducting the evaluation to ensure their participation in the planning process. Although hiring an external evaluation may be more expensive than conducting an evaluation on your own, some circumstances might warrant external evaluation assistance, including:

  • The educator lacks knowledge about sophisticated evaluation designs.
  • The educator lacks knowledge about statistical analyses.
  • The educator has limited time or organizational resources.
  • Funding/accountability organizations require the evaluation to be conducted by an external entity.
  • The educator lacks the ability to be objective (reduce bias) during the evaluation process.

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) website is a good place to find an evaluator in your state (www.eval.org; select “Find an Evaluator” on their homepage). Local colleges or universities may employ practicing evaluators in departments such as psychology, economics, education, administration or sociology. When hiring an evaluation partner, it is useful to consider:

  • Their approach to evaluation and how it fits with your organizational culture and needs
  • Their formal evaluation training and experience with similar programs, projects or designs
  • Their proposed budget for conducting the evaluation

Posting a Request for Proposal (RFP) on appropriate professional networks is one way to solicit proposals from evaluators who would be willing and able to conduct the desired evaluation for you. The RFP outlines the evaluation you would like to conduct and puts a call out to the field request proposals from interested and qualified evaluators. You can post evaluation RFPs on the American Evaluation Association (AEA) website (www.eval.org; select Career on the homepage). Writing a high-quality RFP is essential for securing a strong evaluator. There are several resources that can be used to create strong RFPs, including the following:

  • Five Steps for Selecting an Evaluator: A Guide for Out-of-School Time Practitioners, by Bronte-Tinkew, Joyner, & Allen (2007), Child Trends (www.childtrends.org)
  • Public Profit Evaluation RFP Guide, Public Profit (www.publicprofit.net)

Once you have decided who will lead the evaluation, it is important to identify the evaluation stakeholders and build the evaluation team. Evaluation stakeholders are individuals who share an investment or interest in the findings of an evaluation. Stakeholders typically fall into three categories as outlined in the table below.

Types of Stakeholders Those involved in program operations Those served or affected by the program Intended users of the evaluation findings

Examples

  • Instructors
  • Program staff
  • Volunteers
  • Program leadership
  • Students
  • Recipients
  • Families
  • Funders
  • School districts
  • Community organizations
  • Policy makers

To the extent possible or feasible, it is useful to involve representatives from these groups in evaluation processes because they will be interested in or directly impacted by the evaluation findings. Incorporating the stakeholders’ voices and their data needs early in the planning process will enhance the evaluation’s relevance upon completion. Additionally, the inclusion of unique and diverse perspectives, expertise and experiences will enhance the evaluation process and the ability to interpret findings.