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Separating the wheat from the Chaff: Issues in sorting evidence in program evaluation

Cuthbertson, L., McConney, A. and Ayres, R. (2000) Separating the wheat from the Chaff: Issues in sorting evidence in program evaluation. In: EVALUATION 2000: The Annual Meeting of the American Evaluation Association, 1 - 4 November 2000, Honolulu, Hawaii.


What happens when evaluators use mixed methods to authenticate findings and policy makers, program producers, program staff, and program constituents place varying values on evidence of program effects? An external evaluation of the Structure of Intellect (SOI) Model Schools Pilot Program, mandated by the Oregon legislature for implementation in elementary schools since 1998, has produced findings from a multi-site, mixed-method program evaluation that illustrates this challenge. The ongoing charge of the evaluation is to address questions of student achievement, behavior, and special education referrals, based on the program's claims for improvement in those areas as a result of exposure to the SOI Program. This session will use the SOI evaluation to illustrate differences among stakeholders' views about the value of different sources of evidence. Additionally, we will suggest one systematic method for assigning value to each source of evidence that is both understandable and useful to policy makers, stakeholders, and evaluators.

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