Program evaluation provides an opportunity to gain insight into whether activities are achieving their desired results, improve program services and disseminate information to others regarding program success. Program evaluation involves the systematic collection of information that assists stakeholders to better understand a program, improve its effectiveness, and make decisions about future program planning.
Is the program meeting the intended needs?
Who does the program serve?
Is the program cost-effective?
Has the program achieved it's expected outcomes?
What are people doing differently as a result of the program?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the program? Which activities contribute most? Were there unintended consequences of the program?
- Needs assessment - before a program begins to determine the need of the program and how it could be addressed
- Process evaluation - during the initial stages of implementation to see if the program is being carried out as planned
- Outcome evaluation - as the program matures to see if its objectives are being met
- Impact evaluation - at full maturation to determine what expected or unforeseen impacts the program had
This reaction stems from the idea that programs are static and that the ideal program will run itself ‘perfectly’. This is not real life. Needs change, environments change, resources change. Remaining open to meet the challenge of change through continuing feedback is an opportunity provided by evaluation.
Evaluation is in the best interests of everyone involved in the program. It supports program sustainability for longer term resource planning.
An evaluation is systematic and tailored to the unique elements of a program. Data collected and conclusions drawn are focused on program utility, relevance and practicality.