Programme evaluation and educational policy development : an exploration
Programme evaluation in education began as a form of public inquiry and has developed into a tool for informing policy development. This process has accompanied the government's focus on outcomes rather than outputs and the current global demand for accountability. In recent years there has been an increase in the letting of contracts by the New Zealand Ministry of Education for the production of evidence to support educational policy and this has included the evaluation of programmes designed to improve teaching and raise student achievement. The study reports the historical development of programme evaluation and the different schools of thought which have evolved. It outlines the management of formative programme evaluation within the Ministry of Education's Research Division and describes Rist's approach to policy making, used in the Numeracy Development Project. Two large-scale programmes, the Strengthening Education in Mangere/Otara (SEMO) Project and the Numeracy Development Project, are discussed as examples of initiatives involving programme evaluation. The results of both have informed policy and have been extended more widely. The relationship between research and programme evaluation is discussed with reference to the Performance-Based Research Fund.