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Alignment Table for Report Components


The alignment table for sound project evaluation reports can be viewed either as a whole, displaying all components, or as six separate tables corresponding to report components: (1) Executive Summary, (2) Project Description, (3) Evaluation Overview, (4) Design, (5) Analysis Process, and (6) Results & Recommendations. See the alignment table overview for a general description of what appears in the alignment tables.

The glossary and quality criteria entries for report components are also available on their own.

Component Glossary Entry Quality Criteria Related Program Evaluation Standards

Describes strategies and procedures for gathering and analyzing data, as well as procedures employed for the evaluation's periodic review.

Methodological Approach


  • formative or summative approaches that were taken
  • types of data that were needed (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, pre-post, longitudinal)
  • sources of the data (e.g., participants, documents)

The report should describe the selected methodological approaches and how, within the constraints of time and cost, they yielded data that help answer the evaluation questions. The data gathered need to be aligned with the goals that the project is intended to achieve. The data can vary, however, in how directly they indicate the attainment of project goals. Most projects are more likely to show effects on proximal outcomes than on distal outcomes that are either logically or temporally remote. (For example, a project has been designed to improve high school students' motivation to learn science. A proximal measure of the project's success would be student self-reports of interest in science content gathered immediately before and after the project. A distal measure would be whether the students decide to study science in college.)

Furthermore, the approaches should be grounded in respected methodological frameworks and best-practice literature. This increases the chance that project features and context that are likely to make a difference in project operations and outcomes will be identified.

Methodological approaches that look narrowly at project inputs and solely examine the results of quantitative outcome measures may not capture all the noteworthy influences, impacts, and outcomes of a complex project. Qualitative and mixed method approaches present alternative ways of detecting impacts, especially unanticipated ones. To corroborate evaluation findings and to provide multiple perspectives, it is highly desirable that evaluators measure multiple outcomes and gather data from multiple sources (triangulation).

Important constraints on the evaluation design (e.g., lack of random assignment of respondents to treatment and comparison groups, or lack of data on long-term effects) should also be stated at this point in the report.

U3 Information Scope and Selection
Information collected should be broadly selected to address pertinent questions about the project and be responsive to the needs and interests of clients and other specified stakeholders.

F3 Cost Effectiveness
The evaluation should be efficient and produce information of sufficient value, so that the resources expended can be justified.

Information Sources & Sampling

Describes the sources of information used in the evaluation, which may include:

  • records and archival documents that contain relevant information
  • the entire population of participants in the project, if data were collected on all of them
  • the sample or samples of participants or other informants that were observed or solicited for information, in order to maximize the generalizability of the findings to the population from which the sample or samples were drawn

The sources of information used in a project evaluation should be described in enough detail to show that the information is sufficient to meet the evaluation's purposes.

The groups selected to provide information (e.g., administrators, teachers, students, parents) should be described. If a sample was used, the description should include:

  • the sample selection criteria (e.g., the lowest achievers, the best instructors)
  • the process by which the sample was selected (e.g., random, purposive)
  • the sample size
  • whether or not any comparison or control groups were included
  • whether and how participants were assigned to treatment and comparison groups

The extent to which the sample is representative of the entire population should be indicated. Information about the sample will help reviewers determine the extent to which the information provided about the sample is of sufficient depth to help users of the report judge its representativeness and appropriateness given the scope, context, and resources of the evaluation.

A3 Described Purposes and Procedures
The purposes and procedures of the evaluation should be monitored and described in enough detail, so that they can be identified and assessed.

A4 Defensible Information Sources
The sources of information used in a program evaluation should be described in enough detail, so that the adequacy of the information can be assessed.


Describes the design and content of the instruments used to collect and analyze data (e.g., survey questionnaires, interview protocols, observation forms, learning assessments).

The report should describe the nature of the various instruments and how they are used to gather the needed information. Instruments should be used as intended in order for the data produced to be reliable and valid.

A3 Described Purposes and Procedures
The purposes and procedures of the evaluation should be monitored and described in enough detail, so that they can be identified and assessed.

Data Collection Procedures & Schedule

Describes how the data and other information have been gathered to meet the criteria of validity and reliability. Also describes the frequency, order, and duration of the various data collection activities.

The report should describe how and when data were obtained from the various sources and how the sources provide corroboration and multiple perspectives.

A description of the data collection and its intent provides a context for judging and interpreting evaluation findings and recommendations. The description of the data collection can inform the conduct of similar evaluations in other settings.

Information about the timing of data collection is important because the project's maturity needs to be considered when drawing conclusions about the project's strengths and weaknesses. For example, a survey questionnaire administered to participants halfway through the project is likely to have different results than a survey administered at the completion of the project.

Hence, this section should describe:

  • how and when an appropriately broad range of data were collected
  • what steps were taken to get essential data from the sample and other targeted sources (this might include a human subjects review)
  • how the data have met the criteria of validity
  • how reliability was achieved through the systematic training of data collectors and consistent data collection and scoring procedures
  • how the data collection procedures limited the burden of time and effort placed on project participants

Different models of evaluation present different data collection needs. For example, a formative evaluation requires that ongoing project activities be assessed at points in time that enable project developers to refine the project's components.

F1 Practical Procedures
The evaluation procedures should be practical, to keep disruption to a minimum while needed information is obtained.

A3 Described Purposes and Procedures
The purposes and procedures of the evaluation should be monitored and described in enough detail, so that they can be identified and assessed.

A5 Valid Information
The information-gathering procedures should be chosen or developed and then implemented so that they will assure that the interpretation arrived at is valid for the intended use.

A6 Reliable Information
The information-gathering procedures should be chosen or developed and then implemented so that they will assure that the information obtained is sufficiently reliable for the intended use.


Describes procedures that were undertaken to review the quality of the evaluation being conducted.

Evaluation purposes and procedures should be reviewed periodically, particularly during longitudinal evaluations, to determine whether the evaluation design, instruments, and procedures are adequately capturing the project's implementation, impacts, and outcomes.

A12 Meta-Evaluation
The evaluation itself should be formatively and summatively evaluated against … standards, so that its conduct is appropriately guided and, on completion, stakeholders can closely examine its strengths and weaknesses.

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