New Website Gives Educators Tools to Produce Program Evaluations

Planning a top-notch evaluation is often the last thing schools and districts want to think about when they launch an innovative new project. But it should be one of the first, according to a new website created by the University of Northern Colorado's Education Innovation Institute.

In fact, experts consider not starting soon enough one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning an evaluation - a mistake that could cost them time and money and damage relations with organizations that funded the project.

To avoid such pitfalls, educators can receive research-based tips for evaluation, download trusted toolkits that take the guesswork out of the process and learn commonly used terms defined in a glossary. All of the resources for best practices in evaluation are available for free at: http://www.unco.edu/eii/planning. Getting these resources into the hands of more practitioners will help them approach evaluations with greater confidence and, as a result, produce better research.

The institute also offers free research-based policy briefs that investigate relevant topics in education. Currently, the library contains briefs, which include recommendations, on school finance, student retention vs. social promotion, teacher turnover, and evaluating teacher preparation programs. The briefs are available at: http://www.unco.edu/eii/policy_briefs

UNC's Education Innovation Institute was created by the Colorado legislature in 2009 to provide evidence-based resources for solving practical problems in education reform. Existing and new applied research is analyzed to inform policies and practices. For more about the institute, visit: http://www.unco.edu/eii