Washington, D.C., June 22, 2010—In response to the lack of evaluative data on many college access programs, The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education (The Pell Institute), in partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s (IHEP) Pathways to College Network, has launched the “Evaluation Toolkit” to help increase the effectiveness of college access programs that serve disadvantaged student populations. The “toolkit”—which can be accessed via a special section on The Pell Institute’s Web site at http:/toolkit.pellinstitute.org/—is an innovative online resource that guides users through the process of conducting small scale, high quality program evaluation.
The Evaluation Toolkit presents college access professionals with a free, user-friendly Web-based guide that provides step-by-step instructions on how to approach program evaluation. It is designed to strengthen the capacity of practitioners to collect, analyze, and apply data to improve program outcomes. Additionally, the Evaluation Toolkit features an introductory section, Evaluation 101, with basic information for users who may be unfamiliar with the fundamentals of program evaluation.
More specifically, the Evaluation Toolkit will help users:
- Develop a comprehensive plan for their program evaluation
- Identify data collection methods needed to answer their research questions
- Work with and analyze data to determine the effects of their program practices and services
- Use findings to improve and/or advocate for their program
“We created the Evaluation Toolkit to help college access practitioners measure the effectiveness of their programmatic efforts, which are oftentimes geared toward our nation’s most neediest and underserved students,” says The Pell Institute Director Chandra Taylor Smith, Ph.D. “It is our hope that this resource brings about tremendous benefits for the higher education leaders—practitioners as well as policymakers and researchers—who work passionately to help those students already facing multiple barriers when attempting to enter into and graduate from college.”
With support from Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Evaluation Toolkit was developed for two purposes: (1) To develop a freely accessible, research-based resource that will enable outreach programs to more readily and systematically use data and outcome measures to improve service delivery, and (2) promote research that will identify effective program models across outreach programs and document the collective impact of programs by using the evaluation data generated through a common assessment framework.
"We've endeavored to create an incredible online tool to support the hard work of practitioners who are on the front lines of college access and success initiatives," said IHEP Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives Lorelle L. Espinosa, Ph.D. "The Evaluation Toolkit is also a perfect complement to the newly redesigned Pathways to College Network Web site, www.pathwaystocollege.net, which has four online libraries housing up-to-date research and an expanded set of online tools for college access and success practitioners."
A program of IHEP, the Pathways to College Network is an alliance of national organizations that advances college opportunity for underserved students by raising public awareness, supporting innovative research, and promoting evidence-based policies and practices across the K-12 and higher education sectors. It promotes the use of research-based policies and practices, the development of new research that is both rigorous and actionable, and the alignment of efforts across middle school, high school, and higher education in order to promote college access and success for underserved students.
For more information about The Pell Institute, visit the organization’s Web site at www.pellinstitute.org. Additional information about the Evaluation Toolkit is also available on the Pathways to College Network Web site at www.pathwaystocollege.net. Also, learn more about IHEP by visiting www.ihep.org.