- Make your objectives SMART. That stands for Specific, Measurable Achievable, Realistic (I've also heard Relevant used here, but I prefer Realistic) and Time-bound.
- Use measures that are available to you. Unless there are specific measures that are required by the funding source, write your objective with measurement tools that you have available at your site. While you should use existing assessments whenever possible, this might be the opportunity to add new assessments you have been considering using anyway. Just be careful not to commit yourself and the organization to the implementation of a new battery of assessments in addition to the implementation of a new program.
- Make sure each objective has all its parts. The most effective outcome objectives are written as standard behavioral objectives. Each should have four parts:
- What will be measured?
- When will it be measured?
- How much growth do you expect?
- How will you know that the objective has been achieved?
- Distinguish implementation objectives from outcome objectives. Implementation objectives define your targets for implementing the program (e.g., Fifty program participants will be enrolled by June 30, 2011, as measured by intake records.) and outcome objectives define your ultimate achievement targets (e.g., Forty students will complete the program each year, as measured by achievement of a passing score on the XYZ exam.). Think of it this way: the achievement of an implementation objective proves that you are implementing the program (doing what you said you would do). The achievement of outcome objective proves that the program works.
- Review the formal evaluation requirements of the funding source before finalizing your objectives. Since you will be required to demonstrate the degree to which you have achieved your objectives and you will be required to provide specific data to the funding source as part of a national, state, or organizational (if you have a private funding source) evaluation, it makes sense to try to tailor your objectives to the data that will be required for the formal evaluation. Not only does this streamline your planning and help with implementation, it also demonstrates your understanding of the needs and requirements of the funding source.
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