The Appraisal of Educational Alternatives--Making Evaluation Work in Choosing Future Courses of Action.
An invited article for [New Directions for] [Education], discussing methods and objectives of evaluating educational programs or alternative practices at the state or local level. Both formative (process) and summative (product) evaluation are needed: formative during program development and operation, to identify problems and suggest improvements, and summative to determine the outcomes. Each supports the other. Quality depends on developing a good evaluation design at the program's beginning, and interacting with the participants. To evaluate outcomes, an idiographic analysis (P-4880) is recommended. This measures the difference between observed and projected gain for each student. The projected gain for an individual is based on his own past performance. Program cost, often ignored by evaluators, must be determined in order to compare programs' cost/effectiveness. (See also P-4744.) 10 pp. Ref. Bibliog.