Assignment # 2 Model or approach to evaluate the ECS Programming for Children with Severe Disabilities
Summary: Children with severe/profound disabilities are eligible for Program Unit Funding from Alberta Education. According to the Medicine Hat Catholic organization, the “ECS Programming for Children with Severe Disabilities” evaluates and selects eligible children and then it offers educational programs that must meet the individual child’s needs. The educational programming combines center-based programs and in-home programs. The teacher develops an Individual Program Plan with goals and objectives reflective of the child’s needs. The center-based programming takes place in settings such as preschools, kindergartens and day cares.
What approach is appropriate to evaluate this program? In order to effectively evaluate ECS programming, I suggest using qualitative methods to conduct a “naturalistic” evaluation model in light of Emil J. Posavac and Raymond G. Carey’s theory (2003), combined with the “participant-oriented evaluation” approach, wisely described by Jody L. Fitzpatrick, James R. Sanders and Blaine R. Worthen (2004).
In the naturalistic evaluation model, “the evaluator becomes the data gathering instrument, not surveys or records. By personally observing all phases of the program and holding detailed conversation with stakeholders, the evaluator seeks to gain a rich understanding of the program, its clients, and the social environment” (Posavac and Carey, 2004, p.28). In other words, personal observations and detailed reports are necessary to explain information about the home visits, which should be carefully planned and documented. Also this model is useful in explaining the child’s instruction in a classroom setting at a center or school. The steps in preparing to conduct an evaluation comprise: identifying the program and its stakeholders, becoming familiar with information needs, the planning evaluation and evaluating the evaluation itself.
In the participant-oriented evaluation approach, evaluators should not be distracted from what was really happening to the participant in the program by focusing only in “stating and classifying objectives, designing an elaborate evaluation system, developing technically defensible objective instrumentation, and preparing long detailed technical reports” (Fitzpatrick, Sanders and Worthen, 2004, p. 130).The participant-oriented evaluation stresses first hand experience with program activities and settings and involvement of program participants in evaluation. This approach is “aimed at observing and identifying all (or as many as possible) of the concerns, issues, and consequences integral to the human services enterprise” (p.131). Evaluators need to avoid focusing only on the results or on isolated comments or numbers, charts, figures, and tables, missing important individual facts.
In short, a “naturalist & participant-oriented evaluation” combined approach will provide the plurality of judgments and criteria or methods of inquiry that will help the evaluators portray the different values and needs of individuals and groups served by the educational programming. This model requires active involvement of participants. By involving participants in determining the criteria and boundaries of the evaluation, evaluators serve an important educative function by creating “better-informed” program participants.
Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R. (2004). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Posovac, E., & Carey, R. (2003). Program Evaluation:Methods and Case Studies. (6th edition). New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Medicine Hat Catholic, Separate Regional Division # 20.
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