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Program Evaluation: How to Ask the Right Questions

by Marjorie Kostelnik
May/June 1978
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/program-evaluation-how-to-ask-the-right-questions/5000102/

In every early childhood program
there are numerous decisions to be
made. Administrators responsible
for overall program functioning have
to make choices about which agency
goals to emphasize when; about what
program activities to maintain,
change, or eliminate; and about how
resources will be allocated among the
related but sometimes competing
interests that exist within their

Teachers in the classroom have to
make similar types of decisions
regarding the programs they carry
out with children. Thus, both
administrators and teachers are
decisionmakers. As such, they
require relevant information to help
them make informed choices from
among the alternative courses of
action available to them. The purpose
of program evaluation is to provide
such information to the people who
need it.

The Process of Evaluation
Program evaluation usually consists of six steps:
1. Formulating meaningful evaluation questions;
2. Designing a means for gathering the information necessary to answer the
evaluation questions;
3. Collecting relevant data;
4. Analyzing the data;
5. Reporting the findings to the appropriate parties; and
6. Using the information gained to determine a course of action.

From this outline it can be seen that
generating credible evaluation
questions is the foundation of the
evaluation process. Elaborate procedures
that answer queries no one
cared about in the first place, or that
respond to less important questions
while ignoring more pressing ones,
are meaningless. Likewise, data
that is gathered indiscriminately
may answer no questions at all,
proving equally worthless.

To avoid these pitfalls, program
decisionmakers (or ...

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