Journal Issue: Home Visiting: Recent Program Evaluations Volume 9 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1999
The Purposes of Program Evaluation
Evaluations of human-service programs are typically designed to answer one or more of the following questions:
- What services did the program provide?
- Who received the services?
- Did the services produce the anticipated outcomes?
If the primary purpose of the evaluation is to help program staff hone a new program, then answering the first two questions may be enough. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the evaluation is to persuade funders to continue or expand support or to sponsor replication in other communities, then the question about program outcomes must be answered.
These questions are not easily separable, of course, and most of the evaluations in this journal issue include information designed to answer all three questions. As the articles demonstrate, however, answering them can be difficult. This article describes some of the reasons why these questions are important for policymakers and practitioners, why they are hard to answer, and how the evaluations in this journal chose to address them.