In order to assess the effectiveness of a social service program the researcher has to apply a wide variety of data collection methods that help to gather both quantitative and qualitative information. The program that we are going to evaluate was supposed to achieve several goals; the first one was to decrease the number of high-school dropouts. In this case, the researcher will need to review administrative records and compare the dropout rates during each of these five years. To some extent this is going to be a longitudinal study that is based on continuous observation of the same phenomenon during a certain period of time. The researcher needs to determine whether dropout rates were constantly decreasing or fluctuating throughout this time. In this case, the term dropout rate can be defined as the proportion of students who left high school (McMillens, et al 2004, p 5). The fluctuations of dropout rates would indicate that the program has not fully met its first objective. Another research method, appropriate in this case is the informant interviews and surveys. For instance, the researchers can ask students questions about their attitudes and perceptions of school. For this purpose, one can use such measurement tool as School Attitude Scale (SAS) which helps to understand whether a learner views school years as positive or negative experience (Chafouleas et al, 2007). On the basis of these results one can better evaluate the efficiency of this program.
The second objective was to improve communication skills and reading ability of high-school students. In order to collect necessary information the researcher should refer to the results of (SAT) Scholastic Aptitude Test and ACT (American College Testing). These tests aim to evaluate students’ reading and writing skills (Radcliff, 2007, p 92). The average grade given to students for these particular activities will be the main measure of the program efficiency. If this grade had been continuously improving over these years, one can argue that this program really achieved its ultimate goal.
The third and the fourth objectives were to increase referral for students, who display literacy or reading problems and to increase the usage of the referral. It is necessary to study administrative records to ascertain whether students with literacy problems have an opportunity to ask for the professional assistance of educators and how often they do it. The assessor of this program needs to find out how many educational institutions render this kind of training to students and when these services are available. These indicators will help to assess the efficiency of this program. The number of such referral usages will be another program measure. The critical issue is that we also need to know whether students are actually willing to use these referrals. For this purpose, the researchers need to survey the students with literacy problems and ask them if this additional training has been of any avail to them. The results of the survey can also be a valid program measure.
Thus, we have described the basic data collection procedures and measurements that may be used to assess the effectiveness of an educational program. However, one should bear in mind that the eventual outcomes of the program can be shaped by some other factors: 1) parental attitude toward school and education; 2) the average income level in the community; 3) social lifestyles of students. One has to make allowances for them; otherwise the evaluation can be biased.
Chafouleas. S., Riley-Tilman, T. &, Sugai G. 2007 School-based behavioral assessment: informing intervention and instruction. Guilford Press.
McMillen’s M. Kaufman P, & Whitener S. (2004). Dropout Rates in the United States. DIANE Publishing.
Radcliff. C. (2007). A practical guide to information literacy assessment for academic librarians. Libraries Unlimited.