Report Outlines Guide for Evaluating Afterschool Programs

Developed by the Harvard Family Research Project, a new report looks at the best ways to evaluate expanded afterschool learning programs.

The Harvard Family Research Project has published Afterschool Evaluation 101 – a new how-to guide designed to help afterschool program directors develop an evaluation strategy. The guide goes through each of the planning stages, helping directors select the design and data collection methods that are best suited to the individual program.

A good and clear evaluation is important for the success of an afterschool program. With one, directors can gauge what works and what doesn’t by comparing the activities that have been implemented with the outcomes that they aimed to accomplish.

The guide is intended for directors who have little or no evaluation experience in developing evaluation strategy. The guide is also set out to help staff recognize evaluation as a beneficial process, rather than as an added burden imposed by funders.

“An evaluation strategy involves developing a well-thought out plan for evaluating your program, with the goal of incorporating the lessons learned from the evaluation into program activities,” says a press release.

“As part of this larger strategy, evaluation is not viewed merely as a one-time event to demonstrate results, but instead as an important part of an ongoing process of learning and continuous improvement. This toolkit will walk you through creating an evaluation strategy, planning an evaluation, and working with evaluation data.”

Some of the aspects that the report covers are:

  • To determine the overall purpose of your evaluation
  • Create a logic model for your program strategy that will guide your evaluation
  • Identify the resources you have available to conduct an evaluation
  • Focus on your program’s needs, resources, and developmental stage
  • Select the evaluation design and data collection methods that are best suited to your program
  • Make use of the data you have collected, including writing an analysis and taking advantage of the data that you have analyzed.

The Harvard Family Research Project helps stakeholders develop and evaluate strategies to promote the well-being of children, youth, families, and their communities for almost thirty years.

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