Evaluability Assessment to Improve Public Health Policies, Programs, and Practices

Evaluability assessments first emerged as a low-cost pre-evaluation activity allowing program stakeholders to better prepare for formal evaluation. It continues to be a valuable tool as an evaluation is designed. The role, however, of evaluability assessments has extended beyond aiding the feasibility, design and content of conventional evaluations.

This article looks at the ways in which evaluability assessments specifically serve public health programs. Evaluability assessments:

  • Provide rapid, constructive feedback to program staff;
  • Develop clear objectives that assists the core public health planning and assurance functions;
  • Improve demonstration of reporting requirements;
  • Translate research into practice by assessing evidence-based practices in new settings and populations; and
  • Translate research into practice by identifying promising approaches to achieve public health goals.

Laura C. Leviton, Ph.D., special advisor for evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation writes, along with her colleagues, about the history of evaluability assessments and provides a description of the tool before looking at two illustrative examples. These examples show the role an evaluability assessment plays in assessing an implausible program that is not ready for evaluation, and a highly plausible policy that is ready for evaluation.

Additionally, the article discusses a new development for evaluation assessment: systematic screening and assessment (SSA) method. The SSA method translates practice into research by identifying promising practices ready for evaluation. The method captures promising innovations; screening them individually and systematically to ensure their readiness for evaluation.