Measurement Matters
A Quarterly Newsletter for Clients and Friends of EVALCORP
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The Best Laid Plans Evolve
To Use Qualitative or Quantitative? - That Is the Question
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Volume 2 - Spring 2010
Greetings from Kristen

Evaluation is a professional field based on science, yet I often see how it stems from the natural processes of growth and development.  

The growing process includes times of sowing and reaping - the seasons of life.  While Winter may seem quiet, it provides a period of important reflection.  As individuals, the time after harvest is when we take stock of the outcomes we have reaped, reflect on how well we met expectations, and decide what adjustments we need to make for Springtime growth.

As organizations, we need to follow a similar process.  What seeds - that is, activities and strategies - develop into the best outcomes?  The right evaluation will tell you.  

What is the "right" evaluation?  In fact, evaluations are not one size fits all.  Increasingly at EVALCORP, we experience first-hand with our clients the difference that customized evaluation makes in gathering actionable data to help organizations evolve.

So this quarter, we've put together a couple articles with some examples and tips for recognizing the "right" evaluation to help your organization not only measure outcomes, but respond to them and grow.   

Happy Spring!

Kristen Donovan
Principal Consultant

The Best Laid Plans Evolve
"The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry," is one of the most-often quoted lines of English poetry.  But is it true?  As evaluators, we observe the outcomes of well-constructed plans every day.  According to what we've seen, a more accurate, if less poetic version of the saying is: "The best laid plans of mice and men oft change and evolve."  That is exactly what happened as EVALCORP worked with Solutions for Treatment Expansion Project (STEP).  To best support the STEP initiative, we used a "developmental evaluation" approach - so when change happened, the measurement plan evolved.  Not only did the program not "go awry," it grew stronger than ever. ...more

To Use Qualitative or Quantitative? - That Is the Question
If there's anything we know for sure about a project going in, it is that the unexpected will occur.  While you must track the outcomes you expect (i.e., what you told your funders and clients to expect), it's also important that you watch for and document unintended results.  To accomplish all that, is it better to use qualitative or quantitative methods in your evaluation?  

For us, there is no question.  Qualitative and quantitative methods are different tools in the same box.  You match the tool to the need.  Where quantitative methods capture the numbers to support your accounts of effectiveness; qualitative methods help you articulate your story.  The usefulness of qualitative methods is often less well-understood than quantitative.  Read on for some qualitative data guidelines and tips. ...more

New Projects
We appreciate every new opportunity to partner with organizations on fulfilling their evaluation, assessment and/or planning needs.  One of our newest initiatives involves designing and conducting a process and outcome evaluation for Vista Community Clinic's (VCC) Step UP youth mentoring program in San Diego County.  Vista Community Clinic received a three-year grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to prevent youth gang involvement.  They are using a tiered mentoring approach, where adults each mentor three high school students, and the high school students in turn mentor one elementary or middle school student.  VCC is partnering with other local agencies and schools to make Step UP a success and help educate youth about the positive options they have in life.

Hot off the Presses
EVALCORP staff is happy to announce the completion of Phase I of a two-part impact evaluation measuring Social Host Ordinance policy implementation in Ventura County.  This is particularly exciting because Ventura County is thought to have one of the first published evaluation studies on the impacts of Social Host Ordinances.  We are also very pleased that the Ordinances are showing promising evidence toward curbing the harmful effects of underage drinking.  Please check out key findings in the short "Issue Briefing" on the Ventura County Limits web-site.

Partnering with Clients for Conferences
In collaboration with our clients, EVALCORP recently submitted proposals to statewide and national conferences, such as the upcoming California Alcohol and Drug Programs conference in Sacramento, CA; the American Evaluation Association conference in San Antonio, TX; and the 12th Annual Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) National Leadership conference in Anaheim, CA.  We look forward to helping our clients share their best practices and evaluation outcomes with others in relevant fields.  Stay tuned for more information.

EVALCORP Receives "A" Rating
As an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, we are proud to announce receipt of the Better Business Bureau's highest rating!  Our policies and practices are well aligned with the local Board of Directors' standards for integrity, performance, and outstanding client service.  

We Love to Hear From You
Please email us with any questions you have or topics you would like addressed in future issues.

About Us
EVALCORP offers strategic planning, applied research and evaluation services to organizations throughout California and nationwide.  We work with public and private sector organizations in the areas of AOD prevention, HIV prevention, substance abuse treatment, criminal justice, mental health, public health, education, children's services and organization development.  In addition to our methodological expertise, we are known for our pragmatic approach and ability to deliver findings you can use.  Each consulting engagement begins by assessing where our clients are, where they want to go, and how we can help them get there. Learn more...
Our Locations:

T. 949.271.6437 F. 949.271.6301 15615 Alton Parkway, Suite 450 Irvine, CA  92618
VENTURA COUNTY:  T. 805.981.3987 F. 805.988.0570 300 E. Esplanade Drive, Suite 900 Oxnard, CA  93036
SAN DIEGO COUNTY:  T. 619.528.2235 F. 619.528.2297 3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400 San Diego, CA 92108