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

Criteria

A program goal is a broad statement of program purpose that describes the expected five-year effects of a program.

Example: Increase the capacity of the school district staff to deliver effective asthma management programs.

Well-written program goals help to establish the overall direction for and focus of a school health program, define the scope of what the program should achieve, and serve as the foundation for developing program objectives.

As you learned from the activity on the previous page as well as Evaluation Brief 3, Goals and Objectives Checklist, good goals

  • Specify an expected program effect in reducing a health problem
  • Identify the target population to be affected

Additionally, good goals are

  • Declarative statements—provide a complete sentence that describes a program outcome.
  • Jargon free—use language that most people in the field outside your own agency are likely to understand.
  • Short—use few words to make a statement.
  • Concise—get the complete idea of your goal across as simply and briefly as possible, leaving out unnecessary detail.
  • Easily understood—provide a goal in which the language is clear and for which there is a clear rationale.
  • Positive terms—frame the outcomes in positive terms or in terms of a decrease in health risk behaviors. Avoid the use of double negatives.
  • Framework for objectives—provide a framework so that the objectives are stepping stones to make progress to achieve the goals.

The following activity will further illustrate what is and what is not a “good goal.”

Activity: Good Goals or Not?

Directions

Click “Yes” or “No” to indicate whether the following statements are or are not good goals.

*Please note: if you experience inconsistency when choosing a response, please de-select & re-select your choice.

  1. Decrease the number of school districts without an anti-smoking policy by applying the L364 Indicator Assessment Tool to treatment and comparison groups.
    • Yes

      Incorrect.

      This is not a good goal. It uses jargon (“apply L364 Indicator Assessment Tool to treatment and comparison groups”) and it is not stated in positive terms. A good goal statement might be “Increase number of schools with tobacco-free policies in place.”

    • No

      Correct!

      This is not a good goal. It uses jargon (“apply L364 Indicator Assessment Tool to treatment and comparison groups”) and it is not stated in positive terms. A good goal statement might be “Increase number of schools with tobacco-free policies in place.”

  2. Increase the proportion of youth in grades 9 -12 who abstain from or reduce tobacco use.
    • Yes

      Correct!

      This is a good goal because it is a declarative statement, jargon-free, short, concise, easily understood, stated in positive terms, and serves as a framework for objectives. Importantly, it also specifies an expected program effect and target population.

    • No

      Incorrect.

      This statement meets the criteria of a good goal. It is a declarative statement, jargon-free, short, concise, easily understood, stated in positive terms, and serves as a framework for objectives. Importantly, it also specifies an expected program effect and target population.

  3. Increase the number of schools and districts that integrate effective school-based programs, strategies, and data to reduce priority health risks for students.
    • Yes

      Correct!

      This is a good goal because it is a declarative statement, jargon-free, short, concise, easily understood, stated in positive terms, and serves as a framework for objectives. Importantly, it also specifies an expected program effect and target population.

    • No

      Incorrect.

      This statement meets the criteria for a good goal. It is a declarative statement, jargon-free, short, concise, easily understood, stated in positive terms, and serves as a framework for objectives. Importantly, it also specifies an expected program effect and target population.

  4. Asthma management education and treatment referral.
    • Yes

      Incorrect.

      This is not a good goal: it is a topic area. It is not a declarative statement, nor does it specify an expected program effect or target population. A good goal statement might be “Improve the self-management skills of students with asthma.”

    • No

      Correct!

      This is not a good goal: it is a topic area. It is not a declarative statement, nor does it specify an expected program effect or target population. A good goal statement might be “Improve the self-management skills of students with asthma.”

  5. Increase by 30 percent over the next twelve months the number of students in grades 9-10 who enroll in a health education elective class that includes sexuality education.
    • Yes

      Incorrect.

      This is not a good goal. Goals are broad versus specific statements that describe the expected five-year effects of your program. A good goal statement might be “Decrease risk behaviors associated with HIV infections among students within the school district.”

    • No

      Correct!

      This is not a good goal. Goals are broad versus specific statements that describe the expected five-year effects of your program. A good goal statement might be “Decrease risk behaviors associated with HIV infections among students within the school district.”

[Flash Text Version for 508:]

This activity is designed to help you recall/reinforce the criteria for a good goal by analyzing written goal statements.

Criteria for good goals are:

  1. Specifies an expected program effect
  2. Identifies a target population
  3. Declarative statement
  4. Jargon-free
  5. Short
  6. Concise
  7. Easily understood
  8. Positive terms
  9. Framework for objectives

Good goal statements:

  1. Increase the proportion of youth in grades 9--12 who abstain from or reduce tobacco use.
  2. Increase the number of schools and districts that integrate effective school-based programs, strategies, and data to reduce priority health risks for students.

Not good goal statements:

  1. Decrease the number of school districts without an anti-smoking policy by applying the L364 Indicator Assessment Tool to treatment and comparison groups.
  2. Asthma education and treatment referral.
  3. Increase by 30 percent over the next twelve months the number of students in grades 9-10 who enroll in a health education elective class that includes sexuality education.

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More Information:
Evaluation Brief 3a, Writing Good Goals [pdf 233K, text 5K]
Job Aid:
Evaluation Brief 3, Goals and Objectives Checklist [pdf 200K, text 5K]
This brief provides a goal and objective checklist and examples.
Examples:
Example Workplan [pdf 319K]
This workplan contains example five-year program goals as well as objectives.

 

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