Now We Have Some Evaluation Findings: How Do We Use Them to Improve the Program?
Having your program evaluated can be a great way to see how your program is doing and how it can be improved. Internal or external evaluation can also be a lengthy and stressful process for any employer. Maybe you chose to have the program evaluated for your own benefit and knowledge, or maybe your funding source insisted that the program be evaluated in order to renew funding. Whatever the reason, evaluation is an important event that takes place and will have quite an impact on your program.
Keep in mind throughout the evaluation that the internal or external evaluator is there the help you and is trying to find ways that will improve your program. It's important to be as resourceful and honest as possible throughout the entire process. Remember, in a way you're working as a team! As the evaluation comes to a close you are faced with a very important decision. What are you going to do with these evaluation findings? The evaluators spent time with you and looked at many different aspects of your program. Now they have some recommendations – what will you do with these recommendations? This is an important question to ask yourself as the evaluation comes to a close. Here are some helpful tips to think about in order to successfully implement the findings:
- Be open minded with the recommendations made by the evaluator.
- Remember the evaluator is suggesting ways to help you and your program.
- Any confusing or difficult sounding recommendations should be written out in step by step guide for you to follow when the evaluator leaves.
- Sit down with your staff and discuss how they feel about the recommendations.
- Begin to implement the recommendations one at a time (if all at once is too overwhelming).
- Start with the recommendations you feel the organization is in need of most.
- Call the evaluator with any questions about beginning the new systems - if it seems confusing, it's best to have the evaluator clear things up for you (that's what they're there for!!).
- Try out the new system for a few months and then come together with your staff to discuss how things are going.
- Allow for some time for the new ideas or changes to smooth out and become familiar to people – it's going to take some time!
After enough time has passed with the new systems in place, call the evaluator back again to do another evaluation.
Keep in mind that the evaluator spent a great deal of time reviewing your program and has some interesting findings as a result. Although the evaluators' official assessment is complete, they are very interested in hearing from you with any questions or concerns about implementing the recommendations. They realize that it's a difficult process that takes some time and dedication, and they're interested in hearing how you're doing. Be open minded to the suggestions made. If you honestly feel they don't work and you've given it significant time, it might be a good idea to have the evaluator come back and do another assessment. If you do feel things are working out well that's great – keep up the good work!
by Cheryl Duffy