9.8 Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here
Ambassador Donald Steinberg, USAID Deputy Administrator, emphasized how important it is to make the leap from measuring inputs and outputs to measuring outcomes. At the 2011 GYEOC, he noted that rather than measuring performance based solely on the number of books purchased or teachers trained, measurement needs to focus on how many students learned to read. The YEO field has made impressive strides in that respect; the field’s evidence base continues to deepen with the use of more true impact evaluations. Techniques utilized to interact with youth are more sophisticated. Still, more quality evaluations and impact assessments are needed to strengthen the evidence base and contribute to the policy case for YEO programming. Next steps for the field include the following:
- Get the right M&E tools into the right hands at the right time. There continues to be a gap between the state of the art in M&E and its practical implementation in the YEO field. Strengthening organizational capacity for M&E within YEO programming has recently become a high priority. Now that more sophisticated tools exist and are operating within the YEO field, the field must make sure that those tools are: (1) matched to a program’s objective, scale, and scope; (2) incorporated into YEO programs during initial funding and design phases; and (3) utilized appropriately throughout program implementation. This is especially true for impact evaluation. Accounting for the true costs, realistic timelines, and types of partnerships needed for impact evaluation is critical. This should happen during donor decision-making, proposal-writing, and program design. In addition, professional development efforts must extend to practitioners to ensure that high quality, youth-sensitive M&E reaches the “front lines.”
- Close the feedback loop between impact evaluation and program/policy design. Impact evaluation can serve to test and/or validate models or approaches. Once completed, results should fuel future learning for the field and inform program and policy decisions. Donors can play a critical role by connecting to each other and sharing learning between their partner organizations. Some donors are making these connections, and are considering ways to share the learning broadly. New global (see Chapter 14) and regional associations can ensure that impact evaluation results are shared and incorporated into new program design.
- Cross-check quantitative data with qualitative data and vice-versa. Gone are the days when anecdotal evidence could be used to prove a program’s impact. Straight numbers, while important, do not always account for numerous factors outside the scope of the program. In the coming year, M&E efforts should include both quantitative and qualitative data collection. That data should be compared and analyzed so that full story behind the YEO program’s impact emerges.
- Putting the youth into YEO-focused M&E. Presenters at the 2011 GYEOC shared advice and strategies on how to ensure that M&E implementation is tailored to the field’s target population: youth. Too often, M&E strategies for adults are blindly copied and applied to YEO programs without special consideration of the youth’s developmental necessities and practical or logistical constraints related to working with young people. Quality assurance in the YEO-field will depend on M&E that is tailored to young people.
- Research to Action’s resource list on Theories of Change: www.researchtoaction.org/theory-ofchange- useful-resources/.
- To access additional information on monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment, visit Making Cents International’s 2010 State of the Field publication, pages 86, and 88-98; pages 148-152 of Making Cents’ 2009 State of the Field publication; pages 55-68 of Making Cents’ 2008 State of the Field publication; and pages 31, 41, and 42 of Making Cents’ 2007 State of the Field publication.