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Stage 3: Milestone 3

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Milestone #3: Prepare For Evaluation

Some things to think about:

Make evaluation part of your planning. Evaluation should not be the last consideration in a scale-up initiative; indeed, it should inform the effort from the outset. The Results Framework and Results-Based Logic Model provide the foundation for the evaluation.

Seek out technical assistance for the evaluation. Skilled technical assistance can help make sure that the Results-Based Logic Model meets the tests of a well constructed theory. Is it:
  • Plausible. Does it make sense?
  • Workable. Are the human, social, and economic resources available to achieve it?
  • Measurable. Can we show progress and learn from it?

Early help from an experienced evaluator—someone from a partner’s research office, a local higher education institution, or third-party organization—builds in-house evaluation capacity, an essential function in managing an initiative’s work across networked schools. For example, the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative engaged a professor at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa to conduct its evaluation; Evansville, Indiana, has engaged an evaluator to assess the several programs in the district and community that support community schools.

Decide what information you need to collect. How will you show progress toward indicators set forth in your results-based logic model? In addition to tracking indicators, your initiative should ask questions about its collaborative processes. Funders and researchers interested in identifying effective scale-up initiatives often encourage evaluation designs that focus on the following:
  • Participation—baseline information on age, gender, race/ethnicity, language, family structure, and so forth
  • Degree of participation by students, families, and community members in various activities
  • Internal and external conditions affecting student performance
  • Impact across sites



In Evansville, Indiana, a "culture of evaluation" built on the principles of accountability, data-driven decision making, and continuous improvement has evolved with the city’s scale-up of its community schools initiative. Evaluation succeeds in Evansville because of leadership support, partnerships with external evaluation experts, and a department of the school district dedicated to evaluation and research.

Early on, a community partner with evaluation expertise volunteered to develop an evaluation protocol at Evansville’s first school site, Cedar Hall Elementary. The protocol focused on program evaluation and school-related indicators. Later, with the formation of a community-wide leadership structure called the School-Community Council and the community schools initiative’s expansion to 13 sites, the evaluation underwent redesign to look at all 13 schools. It added community-related indicators to school factors and examined the new council’s functional effectiveness. Finally, the school district’s full commitment to make every school a community school called for an evaluation to track alignment between the district’s school improvement plan and the "whole child" approach of community schools. Related work is underway on a Response Intervention Framework designed to increase social and emotional support to improve academic performance.

In addition to continuously refining its evaluation design, Evansville has significantly expanded its ability to use and share data. With a data warehouse that collects cross-district student information, Evansville tracks students within schools as they advance through the system. Rather than expecting partners to "fish" for data on their own, the district executed MOUs that stipulate the information requested by a partner and the justification for the request. Release forms for personal data are fully disclosed to parents before they are signed and then kept on file.


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