Progress and accountability in family literacy: Lessons from a collaborative approach

Katherine E. Ryan, Barbara Geissler, Suzanne Knell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the implementation of a collaborative evaluation approach for evaluating family literacy programs. Two questions were studied. First, is such an evaluation approach better for practitioners? Second, by using a collaborative evaluation, do practitioners change how they view the evaluation process? Like the concept of collaboration, collaborative evaluation is grounded in the notion that conducting useful and meaningful program evaluations involve sharing power, authority, expertise, resources and cannot be "... accomplished by a single individual or organization independently" (Kagan, 1991; p. 3). Similar to the participatory and empowerment evaluation models (Cousins & Earl, 1992; Fetterman, 1994), the evaluator served in a consultant capacity, technical assistance was provided by literacy professionals, and the practitioners conducted all phases of the evaluation themselves. Practitioners learned some basic principles and practices of evaluation with this approach. Further, the practitioners made program plans based on their evaluation findings. The evidence also suggests there was a shift in how practitioners viewed evaluation. Practitioners saw that information collected from reporting activities like completing intake forms could be used to develop curriculum, not just for reporting to funding agencies. The collaborative approach also benefit ted the technical assistance staff and the evaluator by providing a realistic perspective on program life. However, addressing student progress through traditional methods such as standardized tests continues to be problematic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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