Critiquing a partial evaluation – is a half-full glass better or worse than no drink at all?

Where do you draw the balance? Should we stop doing small evaluations that only look at a few pieces of data, to avoid the risk of misinterpretation? Or should we work harder to ensure their findings can be appropriately incorporated with other information?

In a recent post on the George Mason University website www.stats.org ,

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Why genuine evaluation must be value-based

Every now and then the question is raised about whether evaluation really needs to incorporate “values”. Can’t we just measure what needs to be measured, talk to the right people, pass on whatever they (the people and the data) say? Why is there a need to dig into the messiness of “value”? Do we really need to say anything about how “substantial” or “valuable” an outcome is in the scheme of things, whether an identified weakness is minor or serious, whether implementation has been botched or aced, whether the entire program is heinously expensive or an incredible bargain given what it achieves? Do we really need to do anything seriously evaluative in our evaluation work? Yes, we do. And here’s why …

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What is Genuine Evaluation?

When we think about the type of evaluation we want to do and to support, and the types we want to hold up for critique and as cautionary tales, five elements stand out:

VALUE-BASED -transparent and defensible values (criteria of merit and worth and standards of performance) EMPIRICAL – credible evidence about what has happened

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