Purpose and scope
MEI’s evaluation policy sets out its commitment to reflect on the activities that it undertakes to enable improvements to take place in the future. These activities include MEI’s general work, as well as specific projects that are externally funded. This policy is not intended to be a detailed guide on procedures and practices for evaluation of MEI’s activities. Instead it sets out MEI’s overarching principles in the area.
Introduction to the Policy
Evaluation is a rigorous, systematic and objective process to make judgments about the impacts and merits of a piece of work, usually in relation to its effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness.
MEI monitors and evaluates its practice, as well as reviewing trends over time, because it wishes to:
- assess whether its activities achieve the desired impact and whether they are likely to meet their targets
- assess which aspects of its activities work and which do not, so that areas for improvement can be identified
- assess whether its activities represent value for money
- be transparent, accountable and able to demonstrate effective use of its resources
- ensure the highest levels of satisfaction amongst beneficiaries and customers
Monitoring and evaluation are important for development and delivery because they provide evidence of what is being produced, how it is being implemented, whether it is achieving its objectives, and if not, why not. It supports evidence-based decision making, systems improvement, accountability and successful innovation.
MEI strives to uphold the following general principles of evaluation:
- Evaluation will be planned early during the design of activities to ensure that the work can be evaluated and to increase the robustness of the evaluation.
- Evaluation will be appropriately resourced as part of activity design, taking into account what is feasible and realistic to achieve within time and budget constraints. A robust evaluation design may use both quantitative and qualitative methods including the use of third party data sets (e.g. examination entry data from the Department for Education); tools (e.g. standard feedback forms); and MEI’s own data sets and information systems (e.g. databases).
- Evaluation will be rigorous, systematic and objective, with appropriate scale and design. Evaluation should be methodologically sound and replicable in accordance with the activity’s size and significance.
- Evaluation will be timely and strategic to influence decision making, relative to the scope of the activity.
- Evaluation will be transparent and open. Comprehensive information on all aspects of the evaluation should be systematically recorded. Factual findings and conclusions should be explicitly justified and clearly distinguished from value judgments and recommendations.
Context and Audience
These principles apply to activities carried out both for MEI’s general work and for projects that are directly externally funded. External funders may specify additional evaluation requirements as part of their contract and in such cases MEI endeavours to meet such requirements, further to its own evaluation policy framework.
For example a funder may require that an external evaluator be appointed to evaluate a project. When appointing an external evaluator, MEI will do so in an appropriate and transparent manner. Conditional on the level of funding received for a project and the amount assigned for evaluation, it may be determined that an open tendering process is required to recruit an external evaluator. MEI will undertake such a procedure with due diligence and with attention to any conditions stipulated by the external funder.
Staff managing an activity should ensure consideration of evaluation requirements as set out in the General Principles of the Evaluation Policy. This will usually involve MEI’s Research and Evaluation Manager. Outcomes from an activity will feed into policy and practice review through consideration by MEI’s Management Committee.
MEI’s Management Committee has overall responsibility for maintaining and improving MEI’s work and standards. Where MEI holds externally recognised standards, such as ISO 9001, then these standards are maintained by a specific named MEI staff role. For example the Teacher Support Programme Leader ensures that the NCETM Continuing Professional Development Standard is correctly applied across the organisation.