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The Federal Evaluation ToolkitBETA

Evaluation 101

What is evaluation? How can it help me do my job better? Evaluation 101 provides resources to help you answer those questions and more. You will learn about program evaluation and why it is needed, along with some helpful frameworks that place evaluation in the broader evidence context. Other resources provide helpful overviews of specific types of evaluation you may encounter or be considering, including implementation, outcome, and impact evaluations, and rapid cycle approaches.

What is Evaluation?

Heard the term "evaluation," but are still not quite sure what that means? These resources help you answer the question, "what is evaluation?," and learn more about how evaluation fits into a broader evidence-building framework.

What is Program Evaluation?: A Beginners Guide

Slide Deck

Program evaluation uses systematic data collection to help us understand whether programs, policies, or organizations are effective. This guide explains how program evaluation can contribute to improving program services. It provides a high-level, easy-to-read overview of program evaluation from start (planning and evaluation design) to finish (dissemination), and includes links to additional resources.

Related Resources Planning Design Dissemination

Types of Evaluation

What's the difference between an impact evaluation and an implementation evaluation? What does each type of evaluation tell us? Use these resources to learn more about the different types of evaluation, what they are, how they are used, and what types of evaluation questions they answer.

Common Framework for Research and Evaluation


Building evidence is not one-size-fits all, and different questions require different methods and approaches. The Administration for Children & Families Common Framework for Research and Evaluation describes, in detail, six different types of research and evaluation approaches – foundational descriptive studies, exploratory descriptive studies, design and development studies, efficacy studies, effectiveness studies, and scale-up studies – and can help you understand which type of evaluation might be most useful for you and your information needs.

Related Resources Methods Design Evaluation Types

Formative Evaluation Toolkit

Formative evaluation can help determine whether an intervention or program is being implemented as intended and producing the expected outputs and short-term outcomes. This toolkit outlines the steps involved in conducting a formative evaluation and includes multiple planning tools, references, and a glossary. Check out the overview to learn more about how this resource can help you.

Related Resources Methods Evaluation Types

Introduction to Randomized Evaluations


Randomized evaluations, also known as randomized controlled trials (RCTs), are one of the most rigorous evaluation methods used to conduct impact evaluations to determine the extent to which your program, policy, or initiative caused the outcomes you see. They use random assignment of people/organizations/communities affected by the program or policy to rule out other factors that might have caused the changes your program or policy was designed to achieve. This in-depth resource introduces randomized evaluations in a non-technical way, provides examples of RCTs in practice, describes when RCTs might be the right approach, and offers a thorough FAQ about RCTs.

Related Resources Methods Evaluation Types

Rapid Cycle Evaluation at a Glance


Rapid Cycle Evaluation (RCE) can be used to efficiently assess implementation and inform program improvement. This brief provides an introduction to RCE, describing what it is, how it compares to other methods, when and how to use it, and includes more in-depth resources. Use this brief to help you figure out whether RCE makes sense for your program.

Related Resources Methods Evaluation Types

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