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Division of Adolescent and School Health — Writing Good Goals and SMART Objectives Tutorials

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Things that the program is doing. These can be processes, tools, events, and actions intended to be a part of program implementation.

CDC/DASH program evaluation expectations
CDC/DASH expects that, as a funded partner, each grantee will (1) describe, understand, and plan their program; (2) document what happened in their program; (3) improve their program; and after they can do the first three; (4) conduct more in-depth evaluation.

Coordinated school health program (CSHP)
A coordinated school health program is a planned and organized set of courses, services, policies, and interventions designed to meet the health and safety needs of K-12 students. Schools promote optimal physical, emotional, social, and educational development of students through health education; physical education; health services; nutrition services; counseling, psychological, and social services; a healthy and safe environment; parent/community involvement; and staff wellness. A successful and well-coordinated school health program is characterized by administrators, teachers, and school board members who view health protection and promotion as an essential part of the school’s mission; a school health council composed of school, family, and community representatives to ensure a planning process for continuous improvement; a school health coordinator responsible for organizing and managing the school health program; and school staff who help plan and implement a full array of school health courses, services, policies, and interventions.

Evaluation is the process of determining the merit, worth, and value of things; evaluations are the products of that process. There are two parts to evaluation: (1) data gathering and (2) collecting, clarifying, and verifying relevant values and standards.

Evaluation plan
A written evaluation plan may include process evaluation, to determine if activities were implemented as planned and how well they were conducted, as well as outcome evaluation to determine the impact of an activity or program on program objectives.

External agency partners
Agencies, organizations, and groups outside your own agency with which you collaborate or associate to further the goals of your project.

If-Then approach
An approach to reading a logic model. Beginning with “Inputs,” one works from left to right thinking in terms of “If-Then statements” to ensure that the items in each column logically connect to the items in the next column.

Data that are specific, observable, and measurable that quantify progress made toward a specific output or outcome.

Indicators for School Health Programs
A common set of measures for reporting annual progress and providing CDC DASH with a common data set that can be used to report national program progress. The Indicators summarize process evaluation data that describe basic program activities such as distribution of materials and provision of professional development and individualized technical assistance on policy, curricula, student assessment, and environmental initiatives.

Resources available to operate a program including staff, organizations, communities, and finances.

Intermediate outcomes
Effects of a program achieved within three to five years of program initiation and often include change in behavior, norms, or policies.

Logic model
A pictorial diagram that shows the relationship between your program components and activities and desired health outcomes.

Long-term outcomes
Effects achieved within four to six years of program initiation and often include changes in organizations and systems.

Nested logic model
A nested logic model depicts a specific strategy or group of strategies from a larger program logic model in greater detail.

Neutral indicator
An indicator that does not specify the direction or amount of change that is anticipated.

Nominal group technique
A technique for reaching consensus, whereby participants prioritize their choices, which are summed and ranked to produce a final list.

Describes results to be achieved and the manner in which results will be achieved.

Outcome evaluation
Evaluation undertaken to determine if the effects of changes ascribed to a program (e.g., changes in systems, collaborations, policies, knowledge, attitudes, or behavior among administrators, teachers, school staff, community members, or youth) are associated with program activities.

Intended outcomes or specific changes that are direct results of program activities (also referred to as “impacts”). These include changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors. These can be considered in three time blocks as short-, intermediate-, and long-term effects.

The amount of product and/or service the program intends to provide. These include specific types, levels, and targets of services to be delivered by the program.

Overall program goal
Overall mission or purpose of the program often expressed in terms of morbidity and mortality.

Process evaluation
Collecting and analyzing data to determine who, what, when, where, and how much of program activities have been conducted. Process evaluation allows staff to assess how well the program has been implemented.

A multifaceted approach to decrease health risk behaviors that may include a combination of strategies such as one-on-one interventions, policy and climate changes, advocacy, peer interventions, mentoring programs, youth asset development, and outreach.

Program goal
A broad statement of program purpose that describes the expected long-term effects of a program. Goals should address the program’s effect in reducing a health problem (e.g., HIV, obesity, tobacco-use prevention) and identify the target population to be affected (e.g., middle school students, school districts, health education teachers).

Program-component logic model
A logic model used to illustrate an entire program, showing the relationship between program components (such as strategies or activities) and desired outcomes (short-term, intermediate, and long-term).

Program-level logic model
A logic model used to illustrate an entire program; showing the relationship between program components and between program activities and desired health, educational, and social outcomes.

Qualitative data
Information provided in the form of text rather than numbers. Such data are collected through open-ended survey items, focus groups, in-depth interviews, observations, etc. Analysis includes reviewing the information and identifying common themes, which provides a basis for further summarizing the data.

Quantitative data
Information provided in the form of numbers rather than text. Such data are collected from surveys, logs, attendance records, ratings, etc. Analyses can include totaling the numbers in each category of data (e.g., total number of participants in professional development events or total number of individual ratings on satisfaction with training, graded from 1 to 5), calculating percentages, and proportions. Quantitative data can be used for a variety of other statistical analyses.

Reverse logic approach
An approach to reading a logic model. Beginning with “long-term outcomes”, one works from right to left by asking, “How will I accomplish this?” to ensure that the items in each column logically connect to the items in the next column.

Short-term outcomes
Immediate effects (1 to 3 years) of a program and often focus on change in knowledge, attitudes, and skills.

SMART objective
Objectives are statements that describe program results to be achieved and how they will be achieved. Specific objectives include who will be targeted and what will be accomplished. Measurable objectives include how much change is expected, specifically enough that achievement of the objective can be measured through counting or documenting change. Achievable objectives can be realistically accomplished given your program’s existing resources and constraints. Realistic objectives address the scope of the health problem and propose reasonable programmatic steps. Time-phased objectives provide a timeline indicating when the objective will be met.

An individual or organization that has a substantial interest (i.e. credibility, financial, or power) in a program and its results.

Strategic plan
A document that describes your program’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and outlines five-year program goals, strategies to achieve the goals, and directions for the five years of the cooperative agreement.

The means or broad approach by which the program will achieve its five-year goals.

Target population(s)
Group of individuals with specific characteristics that will receive the program or intervention.

The CDC/DASH workplan provides a concise, easy-to-read overview of your goals, strategies, objectives, measures, activities, timeline, and those responsible for making the program happen. It is usually developed every fiscal year.

Workplan objective
A statement describing the results to be achieved and the manner in which these results will be achieved. Objectives should be SMART.