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Hiring and Working With an Evaluator

NCJ Number
196056
Date Published
Annotation
This briefing addresses how a juvenile justice program manager can go about hiring a qualified evaluator to assist in evaluating a program's performance.
Abstract
This briefing contains specific information concerning who is an evaluator, what an evaluator can do, advantages and disadvantages of hiring an evaluator, selecting an evaluator, developing an evaluation plan, specifying evaluation products, maximizing collaboration, and concludes by identifying other evaluation resources. An evaluator is described as someone who has received formal training in research and/or evaluation and has experience in conducting evaluations. It is noted that there are presently no certifications, license requirements, or college degrees for this skill area. The selection of an evaluator includes identifying their formal education; their experience in research and working with programs; their evaluation philosophy, for example, whether it is primarily as a researcher or as an outside expert; and their communication skills. Facilitation, research, data analysis, and program development are the knowledge base of an effective evaluator. Advantages of hiring evaluators include bringing specialized knowledge and ability, objectivity, and credibility perspective to the project. Disadvantages include cost to the project; time, as they interview and collect data; and possible lack of expertise resulting in damage to program reputation. The development of an evaluation plan requires a written list of responsibilities be required of the evaluator to avoid confusion and duplication of effort, clearly defined products to be obtained by the evaluation process, and a final written formal report to be provided at the end of the project by the evaluator. Collaboration between the evaluator and the program staff must be maximized, to avoid reluctance to participate on the part of the staff, and to assure implementation of all phases of the plan for a relevant and useful final evaluation. Other evaluation resources recommended are Federal agencies, State agencies, local agencies, colleges and universities, professional organizations, and websites.
Date Created: June 22, 2014