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An evaluation is the determination of the value or worth of a product, process, or program. It provides public health agencies useful information to make changes. Regarding public health workforce development, this primarily involves the evaluation of a workforce development plan, which includes workforce activities and needs, objectives, methods for monitoring progress, reporting, and communicating results to network members, partners, stakeholders, and the community at large.

So What?

Public Health Agencies have developed numerous workforce development evaluation plans and assessments. Most follow a set of basic steps described below.

Plan Purpose

The first step is to document the purpose of the evaluation. Reasons to evaluate workforce development plans include:

  1. Needs Assessment—to identify gaps in current practices to develop new training opportunities and other resources
  2. Improvement—to make adjustments to the overall development plan to increase efficiencies in use of time and resources
  3. Justification—to describe and communicate the outcomes of any changes made to the plan

Evaluations can be internal (less formal) or external (involving an evaluator from outside the agency). Internal evaluations are performed by the agency itself and have found to be the best for identifying needs and making improvements. If the focus of the evaluation is on outcomes, especially if the agency depends on outside funding, a more formal, external evaluation may be preferred.

Evaluation Questions

The next step is forming the appropriate set of evaluation questions. This keeps the evaluation on track, collecting only useable data which can yield high results. Good questions are focused, concise, and measurable. They should be broad questions relating to the three main evaluation purposes, asking What are we missing?, What changes can we make to improve?, and How well are we doing?

Plan Development Steps

  1. Describe the problem using qualitative and/or quantitative data to explain how the problem was identified.
  2. Explain why this problem is important, in terms of how staff and stakeholders are affected, as well as the population at large.
  3. Perform a review of the literature to see what else has been done and who is doing it. Consider other local health agencies, educational institutions, governmental agencies, health networks, professional health associations, and regional training centers.
  4. Identify the goals of the evaluation. These goals should be broad enough to include all the evaluation plan’s problem questions, but specific enough to point toward eventual benchmarks and other performance measures.
  5. Refine the main evaluation questions and develop several clearly-focused sub-questions for each main question. These questions specify details regarding What are our needs?, How can we improve?, and How well have previous changes worked?.

Plan Implementation

Implementing the workforce development evaluation plan involves collecting data. Sources for the data collected should be documented for later reference. Ask what kinds of data are needed for evaluation. Check for already existing information as well as what data must still be collected from staff or the agency. Identify data collection instruments, such as survey tools and databases.

Reporting on the Data

Organize the report based on the evaluation questions, and use all of the data sources collected. Note any discrepancies that may have emerged. Be sure to know the intended audience and write a different report to each audience. Writing recommendations may or may not be appropriate depending on who the report is intended for.

Now What?

Outcomes and performance measures can be monitored to indicate when the evaluation has been successfully implemented. Below is a template to utilize when evaluating a workforce development plan.

Evaluation Plan Template for a Workforce Development Plan (Insert link)