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Evaluation Findings That Surprise: New Directions for Evaluation, Number 90

Evaluation Findings That Surprise: New Directions for Evaluation, Number 90

Richard J. Light (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-787-95792-6

Jul 2001, Jossey-Bass

106 pages

Select type: Paperback

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This volume shows how evaluators can play a vital role in shaping publicpolicy by testing the validity of widely held beliefs. The contributorsprovide concrete examples of evaluation results that unexpectedly forcedpolicymakers to modify or completely revamp programs in different humanservice fields. Chapters examine how evaluation results lead to a dramaticrestructuring of programs for reducing recidivism for domestic violence andpreventing perinatal transmission of HIV , and offer evaluation-basedevidence that privatization actually results in greater, rather than lesser,demand for public services. They also focus on the influence of evaluationon educational policies, illustrating how better cost-effectiveness analysiscan support change efforts, how narrative evaluations can actuallystrengthen standardized test results, and how evaluation can help todetermine the most successful professional development programs forteachers.

This is the 90th issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Evaluation.
EDITOR'S NOTES (Richard J. Light).

1. Evaluating to Resolve Controversies (Richard J. Light).
Findings that question a common wisdom, particularly when based on compelling evaluation evidence, can be effective for changing public policy decisions. Concrete examples from different human service fields illustrate how this happens.

2. Evaluating Arrest for Intimate Partner Violence: Two Decades of Research and Reform (Rosemary Chalk, Joel H. Garner).
Even when policies for dealing with social problems are set in place, new evaluation findings can cumulatively lead to changes in those policies. The weight of new evidence can be great, especially when evaluation designs are strong.

3. The Effects of Privatization on Public Services: A Historical Evaluation Approach (Jennifer S. Light).
A substantial body of theory holds that privatizing public services will increase efficiency and save taxpayers money. Historical evaluation evidence actually demonstrates the reverse: privatizing often ends up resulting in greater demands for public services.

4. Preventing Perinatal Transmission of HIV: Target Programs, Not People (Michael A. Stoto).
Prevention programs are widely considered most effective when they are targeted to at-risk populations. This chapter illustrates how targeting to avoid a highly controversial health risk actually is less effective than interventions that are broadly diffused throughout society.

5. Waiting for Godot: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Education (Henry M. Levin).
Using specific examples from educational reform, this chapter illustrates how evaluators can benefit from using more compelling cost-effectiveness analyses in efforts to change public policies.

6. How Memories of School Experiences Can Enrich Educational Evaluations (David B. Pillemer).
Standardized testing offers some valuable evidence about students' performance. Enhancing those test data with evidence from narrative evaluations will allow teachers to improve their daily work in schools and ultimately accomplish the goal of improving student performance.

7. Large-Scale Professional Development for Schoolteachers: Cases from Pittsburgh, New York City, and the National School Reform Faculty (Edward Miech, Bill Nave, Frederick Mosteller).
Professional development for teachers in public schools is widely agreed to be desirable. This chapter suggests how evaluation evidence can help determine when efforts are succeeding.