Summative Evaluations

Summative evaluations, in the strictest sense, are done at the conclusion of a program to provide a conclusive statement regarding pro- gram effects. Unfortunately, the term summative evaluation is sometimes used to refer to either an outcome or impact evaluation, adding even more confusion to the evaluation terminology and vernacular language. Summative evaluations

as techniques for designing and conducting both program process and effect evaluations have improved, and the expectation is that even mandated evaluations will be useful in some way. Nonetheless, it remains critical to consider how to conduct evaluations legitimately, rigorously, inexpensively, and fairly. In addition, if the AEA standards of utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy cannot be met, it is not wise to conduct an evaluation.

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Interests and the degree of influence held by stakeholders can change. Such changes affect not only how the evaluation is conceptualized but also whether evaluation findings are used. In addition, the priorities and responsibilities of the organizations and agencies providing the program can change during the course of delivering the program, which can then lead to changes in the program implementation that have not been taken into account by the evaluation.