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How-To Guide: Standards and Ethics for Evaluation

Standards and Ethics for Evaluation

Guiding Principles for Evaluators

In 2004, the American Evaluation Association ratified a set of principles intended to guide professional evaluators as well as to provide the public with information about what to expect from professional evaluators:

  • Systematic inquiry: Evaluators conduct systematic, data-based inquiries about whatever is being evaluated.
  • Competence: Evaluators provide competent performance to stakeholders.
  • Integrity/honesty: Evaluators ensure the honesty and integrity of the entire evaluation process.
  • Respect for people: Evaluators respect the security, dignity and self-worth of the respondents, program participants, clients and other stakeholders with whom they interact.
  • Responsibilities for general and public welfare: Evaluators articulate and take into account the diversity of interests and values that may be related to the general and public welfare.

You can find more information and free training materials at the American Evaluation Association Web site, Link to external Web site.

Additional Standards for Evaluation

The Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation has also established 30 standards for effective program evaluation guided by the overarching principles of utility, feasibility, propriety and accuracy.

Utility: Evaluations should serve the practical information needs of a given audience.

Questions: Is the purpose of your evaluation clear? Who needs the information and what information do they need? Will the evaluation provide relevant, useful information in a timely manner?

Feasibility: Evaluations take place in the field and should be realistic, prudent, diplomatic and frugal.

Questions: How practical is your evaluation? How much money, time and effort can you invest? Is the planned evaluation realistic, given the time, resources and expertise available?

Propriety: The rights of individuals affected by evaluations should be protected.

Questions: What steps need to be taken for your evaluation to be ethical and legal? Does it protect the rights and welfare of the individuals involved? Does it engage those affected by the program and the evaluation?

Accuracy: Evaluations should produce and convey accurate information about a program’s merit and value.

Questions: Have you documented your program clearly and accurately? What design will provide accurate, valid and reliable information? Have you demonstrated that your measures are valid and reliable? Have you used appropriate analyses, and are your conclusions justified? Is your report impartial?

You can find more information about these standards on the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation Web site, Link to external Web site

This page last reviewed on August 19, 2011