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Needs Assessment and Evaluation

Needs Assessment

Needs assessment is best conducted before selecting a prevention program or before program implementation. It provides evidence of specific school or organizational needs and informs effective planning.

Needs assessment is also a helpful first step in identifying program outcomes for outcome evaluation and can provide a baseline to which yearly program results can be compared. If grant funding is sought, needs assessment can provide a data-driven rationale for funding. These are examples of data often used in needs assessment:

  • Discipline referral, suspension, and absentee data
  • Prevalence of risk and protective factors using student surveys (such as state health surveys) and/or local and state statistics (such as juvenile justice data)
  • Academic achievement data
  • Demographic information (for example, student and staff turnover)
  • Information about programs already being implemented in the school
  • Information about school and community resources
  • Surveys or interviews of those who would be involved in and affected by program implementation (for example, classroom teachers and playground and lunchroom staff)

Process Evaluation

Process evaluation documents steps taken to meet program implementation goals and provides practical benchmarks for staff and administrators. Information from this kind of evaluation can assist schools in identifying areas for further training and support. These are examples of measures of implementation for a process evaluation:

  • Number of adults in a school/agency who receive training in a program
  • Number of children who participate in a program
  • How many lessons children receive, and how often
  • Ways that a teacher encourages use of skills outside lessons
  • Ways that a school/agency encourages use of skills
  • Ways that a school involves parents in a program
  • Sources of support for teachers delivering lessons
  • Level of administrative support for the program

Outcome Evaluation

Outcome evaluation helps determine whether program outcomes have been achieved. In the short term, outcome evaluation—along with process evaluation—informs program improvement. In the long term, outcome evaluation provides information for decision making about future needs. To develop an efficient and useful outcome evaluation, consider:

  • Outcomes for evaluation
  • Outcome indicators
  • Data collection methods
  • Data collection arrangements
  • Data analysis procedures
  • Data interpretation procedures
  • Reporting methods
  • Use of evaluation results
  • Outcome evaluation and implementation tools

Evaluation Tools