Flexible Evaluability Assessments Applications to Adult and Juvenile Interventions

Winifred Reed, National Institute of Justice

Evaluability assessments are activities that help an evaluator gauge the likelihood that an evaluation will be successful. The information derived from these assessments can avert large investments in "unevaluable" programs, identify and correct program blind spots, and inform the scope and structure of ensuing evaluation efforts. This information is particularly important to an agency like the National Institute of Justice because it is called upon to evaluate the programs of other federal agencies and rarely has first-hand knowledge of the program's operations. Assessments can apply any of a wide spectrum of investigative methods depending on the problem at hand, the resources available, and the size and complexity of the program to be evaluated. Evaluators can conduct modest assessments of a program's logic simply by reading descriptive reports at a desk. With a few telephone calls to the project site, an evaluator can learn about staff qualifications to operate the program and, with a little more time, receive sample records from the project's data systems. The National Institute of Justice has recently adopted a policy to assess the evaluability of all programs that it expects to evaluate. This presentation reports on the application of this policy to a portfolio of 175 adult and juvenile justice programs that NIJ was required to evaluate.

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Updated 05/20/2006