Program evaluation is the systematic investigation of the worth or merit of a program, project, or process. It is often undertaken to demonstrate the effectiveness of a program or to improve upon its delivery as it is being implemented. Ideally, evaluation is a collaborative process in which evaluators work closely with program staff to plan and implement an evaluation that is responsive to the needs of the program.
The investigation can include activities such as observing, surveying, interviewing, testing, experimenting, measuring, or analyzing information from people or existing documents. The information is then written up in a report from the evaluator to the client.
Two types of evaluation are commonly discussed: formative and summative.
Evaluation need not be costly, but should be adequately funded in order to address the questions that decision-makers are interested in. Although fees can be and are often negotiated, it is recommended that 5-15% of the program budget be devoted to evaluation. Most of these costs are in personnel, since it does require experienced professionals to effectively plan, execute and report on the results of the investigation.
There is a professional association of evaluators in Hawai'i called the Hawai'i-Pacific Evaluation Association. Members of H-PEA can be found here: http://h-pea.org/pdf/hpea_memberlist.pdf. A short description of your evaluation needs can be sent to the entire listserv (see the H-PEA website for information on how to do this). For additional referrals, feel free to call or email us at the contact information provided on this website. The national American Evaluation Association also maintains a list of evaluators from all states, including Hawai'i: http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=111.
We strongly advise that you contact and include an evaluator in the initial stages of program planning or proposal development. The evaluator can provide sound advice and recommendations on how the proposal is crafted, and/or how the program should be executed. Nevertheless, many evaluators will do their best to work with you and your program even if the time period is limited.