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The 3W’s of Assessment: Part 1

Madison Cutler | Minnesota SART Program Coordinator at SVJI @MNCASA

Evaluation and SARTs go hand-in-hand. When looking at the phases of system’s change, two of the three phases include evaluation! But evaluation can be tough, confusing, and sometimes frustrating. That’s why this month’s blogs will be about the 3Ws of the Assessment: Why? Who? What? If a team can answer these questions, it should help craft a meaningful and informative assessment. This week we will cover the first W: Why.

The 3W’s of Assessment: Why

When deciding to do an assessment, it’s important for the team to ask why they are doing it. Often a team embarks on an assessment and through the whirlwind of meetings and conversations, loses sight of why they started in the first place. If that ever happens, there are three places to look to answer your “why.”

The first place to look is at the team’s mission, vision, or purpose statement. These statements are so powerful and meaningful. If your team doesn’t have one, we strongly suggest crafting one. If you do have one, it should guide the evaluation. Before making a decision, ask, “Does this align with our mission?”

The second place to look is at funding. Whether your team receives funding or plans to in the future, funding institutions might ask you to evaluate your work. Sometimes, they might even set guidelines for what you need to measure. If your assessment needs a place to start, funding might be that place.

Lastly, but most importantly, the team can look at the community. The community is ultimately what is impacted by the work of the team. Each community, like a team, is unique. Some communities prefer surveys for the anonymity, while other communities prefer group interviews for the context. If a team is unsure about any aspect of the assessment, they can consider what they already know about their community to guide them.

Stay tuned and let us know in the comments or by emailing svji@mncasa.org if you have any questions!