Show Your Work - Tech Learning

Show Your Work

Often, the weakest link in a grant proposal is evaluation. Until recently, evaluation was usually an afterthought. But increasingly limited funds and a growing concern about accountability have led most grantors to expect a thorough account of how the programs they fund will be implemented and an evaluation of the
Author:
Publish date:

Often, the weakest link in a grant proposal is evaluation. Until recently, evaluation was usually an afterthought. But increasingly limited funds and a growing concern about accountability have led most grantors to expect a thorough account of how the programs they fund will be implemented and an evaluation of the grant's impact on student achievement. Therefore, it's important that potential grantees outline their evaluation plan — and their plan to follow through with it — clearly. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Review the request for proposals carefully. Elements like mandatory reporting formats, assessment instruments, and timelines are requirements, not suggestions, and must be reflected in the evaluation plan.
  • Keep it simple. Focus on how you will measure and report on your major objectives. It's easy to fall into the trap of developing a plan so complex it's nearly impossible to manage all the tasks listed.
  • Cross-reference major objectives with the plan. You'd be surprised how easy it is to leave out an objective. Even if the omission gets past proposal readers, sooner or later you'll be scrambling to shore up an incomplete plan.
  • Include both formative and summative evaluation. Formative evaluation is used throughout the program to identify and correct problems as they occur. Summative evaluation is used at the end of a project to measure overall impact. Ongoing evaluation will strengthen your program and help ensure achievement of major objectives.
  • Remember that evaluation costs money. Whether you contract with an outside evaluator or conduct the evaluation in-house, data collection, analysis, and reporting require resources, including staff time. Costs for evaluation typically run 8 to 10 percent of the grant award. Make sure to build these into the proposal budget.
  • Include provisions for piloting and modifying assessment tools. Creating good assessments is more challenging than you might think. A trial run will help ensure that the tools are well-written and elicit the information you need.

Susan Brooks-Young is an educational consultant and writer.

Featured

Related

Get Your Facts Straight

Don't be caught unprepared when your grant application calls for data. Successful grant applications use data to build a solid case for why a proposal should be funded. There is no scarcity of data in most of today's school districts thanks to increasingly sophisticated management systems; yet educators often end up

Tips from the Bottom Line

A T&L columnist shares ROI highlights from the past year. Funding Technical Support Ongoing technical support is often under-funded in district budgets. Most fall far short of the Consortium for School Networking's (CoSN) recommended ratio of one technician for every 50 to 70 computers, or one technician for every

Count Your Pennies

There's no room for guesswork in grant writing. Less experienced grant writers often use the "by guess or by golly" approach to developing the budget for a proposal, allocating the total amount of money available across spending categories using best guesses. The thinking behind this strategy is that the grant

Show Him the Money

Q. You've mentioned your funding priorities fell into place once the district changed its technology vision. Can you describe that vision and how you implemented it? A. We started by hiring a technology director from the business world; forming a diverse technology committee that included instructional leaders,

Tips from the Bottom Line(2)

from Technology & Learning A T&L columnist shares dollarwise highlights from the past year. Revisit Past Funding Practices Stymied by how to manage anticipated funding decreases and spiraling costs? Bleak funding projections can result in significant reductions or elimination of programs, regardless of their

Showcasing Student Work Online

To encourage students to try to do their best, several teachers started posting student work online. I was taken aback when I heard that some parents asked the teachers to take their child’s work off the Web site. Why would they object? It’s difficult to guess what the parents might have been thinking, but

Dear Administrator(2)

Q: We recently completed a grant proposal that required verification of how administrative staff has supported local technology initiatives. I've not seen this requirement before, and we scrambled a bit to find specific documentation. Is this a common request? A: The importance of administrative support in successful

Going Corporate

Corporations can be a great source for grant funding. When your school or district needs additional funding, do you look to the private sector for assistance? Numerous corporations offer support to the community through charitable foundations. Some of these foundations focus on national initiatives, but many