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Developing the Evaluation Plan

This section of the process guide will cover the development of the evaluation plan. A good evaluation plan is a written document that:

  • spells out exactly what the state is trying to accomplish, including the impact of the SSIP activities on the SIMR and other key outcomes such as changes to infrastructure and practice (i.e., intended short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes at each level of the system relative to strategies, activities, timelines and ranked priorities);
  • outlines how the state will measure the intended outcomes and identifies the best way to capture the most relevant information (i.e., meaningful performance indicators, targeted evaluation questions, and specific data collection methods) that will enable staff to:
    1. determine whether activities are on the right track;
    2. make mid-course corrections to improve the implementation of activities; and
    3. determine the degree to which intended outcomes were achieved;
  • provides opportunities to critically examine the extent to which implemented activities and strategies are functioning as intended and may guide mid-course corrections to implementation processes and activities; and
  • provides opportunities for reporting and dissemination that address the question of whether or not what has been accomplished is what was intended.

Stakeholder involvement is critical to all aspects of the SSIP process. Accordingly, state leaders need to use purposeful strategies to meaningfully engage those stakeholders. Evaluation is no exception. One way to ensure the relevance and usefulness of an evaluation is to include the perspectives and insights of as many individuals, groups, and other stakeholders as possible throughout the evaluation planning process. Engaging a wide range of stakeholders in each step of the evaluation planning process also provides opportunities to address questions, explore assumptions, and develop a shared understanding of what the evaluation will address and the findings it is expected to produce. Indeed, meaningful engagement of stakeholders can take a variety of forms. Sometimes stakeholder involvement is limited to reviewing or reacting to a draft of the evaluation plan, while in other cases, it is actually developing the evaluation plan alongside states.

Many resources exist related to evaluation. IDC developed WWW: A Guide to SSIP Evaluation Planning which includes worksheets to guide users through the evaluation process. Three other key resources that TA staff found useful in understanding all steps of evaluation were:

Evaluations can be presented in many different ways, with varying terms and components. The following steps show one way to conceptualize the steps involved in developing an evaluation plan.

Click the steps below to display their purposes and resources in more detail.

  • Clarify and create a written record of the expected results of activities and steps if they are well implemented.
  • State developed SSIP Theory of Action developed in Phase I
  • State's completed SSIP Action Plan Template
  • Link the SSIP theory of action developed in Phase I to the improvement plan completed in Phase II.
  • Create a visual representation of the logical relationships among activities, intended outcomes, and the SIMR.
  • Identify gaps in logical relationships between the intended outcomes and SIMR.
  • Ensure that the outcomes identified are sufficient to achieve the SIMR.
  • Give priority to those outcomes most critical to achieving the SIMR.
  • Include intended outcomes necessary to fill logical gaps.
  • Eliminate outcomes not necessary to achieve the SIMR.
  • Create a written record of the metrics and criteria that will be used to define achievement of intended outcomes.
  • Ensure that evaluation questions can be answered with data collected.
  • State developed data dictionaries
  • State developed activity timelines
  • Create a written record of:
    • data collection methods,
    • tools/instruments for collecting data,
    • participants in evaluation, and
    • Existing data sources.
  • Ensure data will be available to answer the evaluation questions identified.
  • Ensure that data collected are sufficient to answer evaluation questions.
  • Improved communication with staff responsible for data analysis.
  • Align evaluation activities with the overall timeline of improvement activities.
  • Ensure the evaluation activities will provide information in a timely way.
  • State developed timelines from the SSIP improvement plan
  • Ensure that data collected are sufficient to answer evaluation questions.
  • Improved communication with staff responsible for data analysis.
  • Identify stakeholders to be included in the evaluation planning process.
  • Prepare stakeholders to support development and implementation of the evaluation plan.
  • Ensure that stakeholders are included in each step, as appropriate.
Links on this site are verified monthly. This page content was last updated on 2016-03-03 AML

Content hosted by The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

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  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The contents of this guide were developed under cooperative agreement numbers #H326R140006 (DaSy), #H326P120002 (ECTA Center), #H373Y130002 (IDC) and #H326R140006 (NCSI) from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Project Officers: Meredith Miceli & Richelle Davis(DaSy), Julia Martin Eile (ECTA Center), Richelle Davis & Meredith Miceli (IDC), and Perry Williams & Shedeh Hajghassemali (NCSI)

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