Overview and Rationale for the Systematic Screening and Assessment Method

The Systematic Screening and Assessment (SSA) Method is a way to identify the most promising innovations in preparation for evaluation. This is a new method in that it sequences two existing evaluation methods: 1) evaluability assessment, and 2) connoisseurship or expert judgment. The combination of these two methods enables innovations to be nominated, screened and assessed as promising in a systematic way.

This chapter provides an overview of the method, outlining the six-step process.

  1. Choose priorities for the scan
  2. Scan environmental interventions
  3. Review and identify interventions that warrant evaluability assessment
  4. Briefly assess priority interventions
  5. Review and rate interventions for promise/readiness for evaluation
  6. Use information

The authors note the rationale for the SSA Method, saying that it was created to address a dilemma in evaluation: significant money is spent evaluating ineffective innovations. The authors developed the SSA Method as an effort to capitalize on practice-based innovations while preserving evaluation resources.

The chapter also includes a reflection on the SSA Method’s first implementation through to the Early Assessment of Programs and Policies to Prevent Childhood Obesity project. The authors note the specific challenge of selecting priority areas for assessment and the assumptions the individual experts brought to the review process. Overall, they conclude that the SSA Method is a cost-effective strategy to ensure productive and useful innovations.