Program evaluation is basically a systematic method for the collection, analyzing and also using information so as to answer question about the policies, projects and also programs. This is particularly about their efficiency and effectiveness. In both the private and public areas, the stakeholders are often interested to know whether the programs and projects that they are funding, voting for, objecting or receiving are producing the effects that are intended(Wholey, Hatry, Newcomer, 2010). Program evaluation focuses on some major considerations which include how much the program costs per the participants, how the same program can be improved, the better alternatives, the benefits of the program, if there are any unintended outcomes, whether the programs goals set are useful and appropriate.
Evaluators can best answer these questions. The best way however to answer this question is for the evaluation to be a joint program between the stakeholders and the evaluators. This process of evaluation is a recent phenomenon. Planned social evaluation has been documented to have dated back as 2200 BC. Program evaluation can be conducted at several stages on a project’s lifetime (Wholey et al 2010). Each of these stages comes up with different questions which are directed to the evaluator. Different evaluation approaches are needed at different stages.
There are some suggested kinds of approaches that are used in the assessment in different stages:
- Need assessment of the program
- Assessment of the logic/theory and program design
- Assessment of the implementation of the program
- Assessment of the impact or outcome of the project i.e. achievement
- Assessment of the efficiency and cost of the program(Wholey et al 2010).
There are several types of project evaluation. These include Process evaluations, outcomes evaluations, Cost- Benefit Evaluations, Impact Evaluations.
In this case, we are going to discuss about impact evaluation. These are designed to basically measure the impact of a program by making comparisons of the counterfactual data with the actual program. The necessity of this type of evaluation is to help the evaluator assess the impact that the program might have. It assesses the potential outcome of the project. Impact evaluation should be planned from the beginning of a project and should not be undertaken until the project is mature enough so that the true impacts of the program can be implemented (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2004).
This type of program evaluation can be improved by assigning subjects such as cities, counties and individuals to isolate the program impacts to control and treatment groups. These groups must be efficiently isolated to as to avoid the spillover effect. This can end up being challenging since most programs cannot offer the services selectively. Alternatively, the control and treatment groups can be constructed in similar ways that are considered as being important (Fitzpatrick et al 2004).
Impact evaluation can be of great value to future projects as they help one to assess the changes in the households, in the well-being of individuals, firms or communities which can be attributed to a particular policy, program or project. It helps answer the question of what would have happened to the people if at all they would have not received the program of the project. This type of program evaluation is very beneficial as it helps to avoid adverse impacts by the time the project is at an advanced stage or by the time it is over.
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