Using Program Evaluation to Improve Programs
Program evaluation is essential for agencies to�
- Describe, understand, and plan their programs.
- Document what has happened in their programs.
- Improve their programs.
Conducting routine evaluations that provide information for program
management and strengthen program effectiveness should be a part of all
state and local education and public health programs.1
Specifically, CDC�s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) expects that, as a funded partner, you will�
1. Describe, understand, and plan your program.
- Develop a strategic plan. A strategic plan is a document that
describes your program�s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and
threats, and outlines your strategies and directions for the five years
of the cooperative agreement. As part of the strategic planning process
you should also complete the following:
- Program inventory�a tool that provides a snapshot of what your program
is currently doing.
- Logic model�a pictorial diagram that shows the relationship between your program components and activities and desired health outcomes.
- Develop a sound workplan. Your workplan should provide goals
and objectives that clearly describe what you will do in each year for
which you are funded. A sound workplan includes
- Goals. A goal is a broad statement of program purpose
that describes the expected long-term effects of a program.
- Strategies. A strategy is the means or broad approach by
which a program will achieve its goals.
- SMART objectives. Objectives should be SMART�
that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and
Time-phased. Objectives, as written in your workplan, are statements
that describe program results to be achieved and how they will be
- A rationale for each objective. You should provide a
reason to pursue each objective that links it to your strategic plan
and logic model.
- Specific Indicators for School Health Programs and School
Level Impact Measures that measure each objective. Where
applicable, provide the specific Indicators for School Health
Programs item number(s) and the specific School Level Impact Measure
item number(s) that corresponds to each objective in your workplan.
2. Document what happened in your program.
- Designate a person responsible for ensuring that process
evaluation data about all program activities (e.g., professional
development events, technical assistance, health promotion activities,
and presentations) are recorded in a systematic and coordinated fashion.
- Maintain accurate and organized records on program activities.
Knowing who, what, when, where, and how much of program
activities allows staff to assess how well the program has been
implemented. Collection of this type of data is called process
- Submit process evaluation data.
- DASH requires that state and local education agencies funded
under Cooperative Agreement 08-801 conduct Coordinated School
Health Programs, HIV Prevention Programs, and Asthma Management
Programs. They also must submit the Indicators for School Health
Programs. The Indicators summarize process evaluation data that
describe basic program activities such as distribution of materials;
provision of professional development; and technical assistance on
policy, curricula, student assessment, and environmental
- Other DASH partners should
summarize their process evaluation data using other indicators
identified by CDC or identify their own process evaluation indicators.
3. Improve your program.
- Use evaluation findings to plan program improvements. Process
evaluation data should be compared with your program objectives to make
program improvements such as conducting more or different program
activities, increasing the number of people attending programs,
increasing your ability to reach specific groups of people, and changing
- Develop reports and presentations to inform program staff and
key stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels about your
program. These reports can help make a case for the continuation or
expansion of well-planned and implemented programs and can gather
support for future program improvements.
- Submit success stories annually to DASH that highlight
accomplishments of your program.
4. Conduct more in-depth evaluation.
After you can do all of the following�
- describe, understand, and plan your program
- document what
happened in your program
- use that information to improve it
�then you should consider conducting more in-depth evaluation. However, in-depth
evaluation will not be meaningful or credible unless you have mastered the
first three program evaluation expectations.
- In-depth process evaluation focuses more on the quality of the
activities in which your program is engaged, and will help you to
further improve your activities.
- Outcome evaluation helps you assess what happens as a result of your
program activities. It is helpful when you need more information on
which to base future program decisions, or to strengthen and improve a
specific program component.
How do I get help with evaluation?
If you are a DASH funded partner and you have questions about your
evaluation activities or need technical assistance, please contact your
project officer or the Evaluation Research Team at
email@example.com or use the DASH Contact Us
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Framework for Program
Evaluation in Public Health. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report
1999;48(No. RR�11). Also available from the
CDC Evaluation Working Group.
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