Recommendations for Taking Program Maturity Into Account
All education programs go through developmental stages. Different kinds of evaluation are appropriate at each stage.16 Based on when they started and other factors, different components of a program may be in different development stages during an evaluation.
In the early stages of implementation, focus on formative evaluation efforts. Hold off on summative evaluations until users have had time to adapt to it, and there has been adequate time to revise the program design based on early feedback and observations.
Once a stable program model has been achieved, study of education outcomes is appropriate. Finally, as the program or program component matures, its long-term sustainability and replicability should be considered.
Program leaders and evaluators should work together to help program stakeholders understand and interpret how program maturity can affect evaluation findings.
Program leaders and evaluators should work together to establish baselines and benchmarks, so that progress over time toward program goals can be measured.