Chapter 9: Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Evaluation

As the YEO field matures, pilot programs and anecdotal data have given way to increasingly more sophisticated approaches to program measurement and learning. These advances are critical to scale, replication, policy, and government partnership initiatives. More work remains. Confusion about the purpose and practice of M&E, and the way it can contribute to learning within an organization or program, still exists. A common language for M&E is necessary to ensure that discussions are productive and that evaluations reflect a common framework of practice. Highlights from discussions at the 2011 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference include:

  • Remember the client. Young people are at the center of all YEO programs. M&E needs to be tailored to them.
  • Neither quantitative nor qualitative; use both. More organizations are successfully using mixed methods approaches for M&E.
  • Question assumptions and theories of change. Remember that stakeholders, including youth, have their own assumptions about a program. A common theory of change should be understood at the beginning of a program.
  • Impact, impact, impact. Presenters shared additional experiences with impact measurement and randomized control trials. Randomized and non-randomized techniques help organizations attribute their impact directly to their intervention–the most rigorous evaluation.
  • M&E should be customized for youth. Young people have unique developmental characteristics that should be taken into account during M&E design and implementation. Many organizations that work with adults experience challenges when they fail to customize the M&E process for youth. Staff may not have the skill set required to engage young people during M&E events.