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Early childhood programs that serve the needs of the public face continual changes brought on by social, political, and economic forces. To navigate these changes, and to improve services and outcomes for children, state organizations may seek to evaluate their programs. Listed below are four common reasons state leaders seek to evaluate state programs:[1]

  • Assessment of merit and worth: to review a program’s merit and value to society so funders, policymakers, and communities know what it does and how it benefits participants.
  • Program and organizational improvement: to improve the organization and its services through continuous quality improvement by identifying weaknesses as well as strengths.
  • Oversight and compliance: to ensure program compliance with mandates and fidelity to the intervention model.
  • Field knowledge and development: to build knowledge and expertise about what does and does not work, for the benefit of the field and future programs.

Despite these important purposes and benefits, program leaders and staff can be hesitant to evaluate their programs. Their reluctance can be related to costs of evaluation, their past experience with evaluation, or insufficient understanding of the evaluation process.

[1] Mark, M. M., Henry, G. T., & Julnes, G. (2000). Evaluation: An integrated framework for understanding, guiding, and improving policies and programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.