The Key Step in Any Evaluation

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What’s the most important step to any evaluation? Data collection? Choosing a system? Hiring the right evaluator? No, no, and no. The most important step is defining your question, and the more specific you can be, the better.

For example, instead of asking, ‘are we improving math scores?’ Your question should be, ‘are we improving the math grades that 5th to 8th graders in our homework help programs receive on their report cards?’ This second question tells you exactly what data you need to collect in order to answer your question. You need: math grades on report cards for the students who are in homework help and in grades 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th.

Once you have a good, clear question you can begin planning for data collection. Having a data system to enter your data into becomes the next important step. With a clear plan for data collection and a secure place to store the information, reporting on progress and results becomes easy.

To read more about one district’s plan evaluation and what they learned about data collection, read our case study with the Rochester City School District.

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