In an age of elevated accountability for results, the Evaluation Plan is one of the most critical components of a competitive grant proposal.
For virtually every objective one might conceive, many types of thoroughly reviewed evaluation instruments are readily available. Often these instruments are widely used to generate and monitor data and to track and report on performance outcomes; yet, they may be new to any given applicant and its grant writing team.
Selecting Evaluation Instruments
In selecting one or more evaluation instruments to measure a specific objective in a proposal, a smart grant writing team will first locate and study relevant technical reviews found throughout the professional literature of program evaluation. The smart team is certain to look for:
- Evidence for the technical review writer’s objectivity
- Evidence for the instrument’s reliability
- Evidence for the instrument’s validity
- Limitations on the available evidence
- Discussions of the instrument’s intended uses
- Prerequisites for the instrument’s effective use
- Required frequency and mode of use
- Time required for administration and data analysis and reporting
- Costs associated with using the instrument
Finding Technical Reviews
There are many possible sources of technical reviews of evaluation instruments. One of the best and most comprehensive resources is the Mental Measurement Yearbooks, a series published both online and in print by the Buros Institute. A second resource, of more limited scope, is the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. Nearly every specialized and science-driven discipline will have its own review repository as well.
Reasons for Using Technical Reviews
Applicants need to persuade skeptics that their Evaluation Plan will provide evidence of program effectiveness. One way to do so is to demonstrate to wary readers that the proposed evaluation instruments are judiciously selected and are appropriate for their proposed uses. The findings published in technical reviews furnish invaluable assets for accomplishing this task. The rest hinges upon how well an applicant uses these assets in describing and justifying its Evaluation Plan.