Mini Triumphs - I CAN
Over the last six years, it’s fair to say that I CAN’s approach to evaluation has transformed! We have done lots of things which have helped this transformation, but have pulled out two 'mini triumphs':
1. Introducing a theory of change approach to our evaluations
As a concept, ‘theory of change’ is now very common in organisations, but six years ago this was a new approach. For most of our work, we are a ‘second tier organisation’ - we don’t work directly with children, but train others in our programmes. We already had lots of evidence of impact on practitioner knowledge and practice. Through using a theory of change (see below for example), it was possible to show clearly the links between our programmes, and how these resulted in changes for children.
Using a theory of change approach has made us ‘outcomes-focused’. When we plan a new programme, activity or intervention we start thinking about outcomes right from the start, answering the question ‘what difference will this make’?
It’s also meant that now evaluation is seen as everyone’s responsibility. I don’t think there is anyone in I CAN who doesn’t feel this is part of their role.
This useful booklet from NPC takes you through the steps to developing your own theory of change.
2. Developing functional measures of children’s speech, language and communication
We now have ‘trackers’ for children in the early years and in primary school, and are just developing one for students in secondary schools. Trackers are not standardised assessments, but progress measures based on what we know about language development.
This has meant that we are able to measure changes to children’s speech, language and communication in a way that is meaningful to practitioners. Because settings and schools find them easy to use, it also means that we can carry on collecting information about the impact of our programmes when they are in schools and settings, not just when they are piloted.
Read more about I CAN’s evaluation approach here.