Use of Evaluation Findings in Michigan’s 21st Century Community Learning Center Programs
There is a lack of empirical evidence demonstrating the use of evaluation findings within grant programs such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs (CCLCs). This study was designed using Michigan’s federally-funded CCLCs to meet the following purposes: to explore the use of evaluation findings; to determine the relationship of the use of evaluation findings by local school administrators to the employment of an internal or external evaluator; to identify evaluator qualifications connected to evaluation use; and to determine whether there are relationships between the Program Evaluation Standards (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 1994) utility domains and use.
The methodology used in this project was survey research, distributing an 83- item questionnaire to the 43 federally-funded CCLCs in Michigan with a useable response rate of 51.2%. The results indicated that summative uses of evaluation findings are most common and using evaluation findings to revise program goals and objectives was least common. A higher percentage of respondents employing internal evaluators instrumentally used the evaluation findings. Evaluator qualifications, type of evaluator, and the utility standards could not be correlated with reported use because all respondents reported use of evaluation findings. Secondary analysis determined that prior knowledge of community and prior CCLCs experience were moderately positively correlated with stakeholder satisfaction of the evaluation. The utility standards with the strongest relationship to stakeholder satisfaction were report clarity and report timeliness and dissemination. Report clarity also had a moderate positive correlation to instrumental use, a composite variable derived from four instrumental use survey items.
The most important findings are that evaluator knowledge of the community, evaluator knowledge of the CCLC grant program, and clear and timely reports are of paramount concern to CCLC grantee directors. The results from the study can help current and future CCLCs grantees make informed decisions about employing internal or external evaluators and how to improve the use of evaluation findings, while also providing evaluators with research to support decisions they make in designing such evaluations.