Evaluation & Assessment

This cross-cutting theme focuses on improving the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of programs by sharing data on what works and what doesn’t, and methodologies for monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment.   Improved practices in this area promise to provide stakeholders with enhanced understanding of which interventions have meaningful impact, what the likely return on investment will be, and how to design and implement improved monitoring and evaluation initiatives.

Where are we now?

As the YEO field matures, pilot programs and anecdotal data have given way to increasingly sophisticated approaches to program measurement and learning. These advances are critical to scale, replication, policy and government partnership initiatives. However, more work remains. Confusion about the purpose and practice of monitoring, evaluation and assessment, and the way it can contribute to learning with an organization or program still exists.  A common language for this area along with standardized measures of cost and benefit are also necessary to ensure discussions are productive and evaluations reflect a common framework of practice.

Trends and emerging practices

  • Donors are advocating for more rigorous evaluation to ensure greater accountability and learning.
  • Although randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard, they can be expensive and time consuming, leading some donors to find quasi-experimental and impact evaluations very appealing, while others invest more significantly in M&E activities.
  • For corporations and foundations, evaluations are important to measure the social value proposition and social impact of their investments to consumers, customers, and employees.
  • More implementers are recognizing the importance of investing in good M&E, so they can demonstrate to donors their organization's social value proposition, particularly to impact investors.
  • More organizations are successfully using mixed methods approaches (both quantitative and qualitative data) to M&E.
  • Survey and focus group tools should be tested and finalized with young people for tools to achieve greater reliability and validity.
  • Data from young people should be triangulated with data from significant adults in their lives (such as parents, guardians, and teachers) to contextualize its meaning and importance.
  • More organizations are recognizing that existing M&E staff may not have the skills set required to engage young people, so training on how to conduct youth-inclusive M&E is important. 
  • Young people are not homogeneous, so questions need to be framed differently for young men and young women, youth from urban and rural communities, and/or youth from different socio-economic groups.


Five Steps to More Meaningful Youth Engagement

My name is Matthew French and I work for JBS International, Inc. This blog draws upon research conducted under contract with USAID’s office of Education (read the full youth engagement report here), as well as my own experiences working with young people.

You Are Not Cool!: Meaningful Youth Engagement Begins with a Little Self Awareness and A Lot of Trust

Engagement, participation, involvement and leadership. These words are now cornerstones of our youth and development policies, white papers and proposals. We might believe in them and commit to them but doing them right is hard. In this workshop we disentangle what has failed and what shows promise for engaging youth in program design, research, implementation and advocacy.

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What do a Boutique Gym Membership and M&E for an Employment Program Have in Common? The Case for Adaptive Management

Much has been learned in recent years to guide development organizations when using technology in programs for health, agriculture and education programs. With the advent of tech ecosystems and a focus on entrepreneurship development, many local tech innovators in emerging markets are seeking to solve local problems in the sectors mentioned with local tech solutions.

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Results from the Big Five Inventory-44 Soft Skills Measure with Youth in Two Emerging Market Countries

The session will focus on sharing results from a research project on The "Big Five Inventory 44”, a self-assessment tool that has been used primarily in the US and OECD countries with less evidence in developing countries.

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Informing Scale: Using Rigorous Evidence to Expand Youth Labor Programs

Whether an organization is discussing scaling up within a context or transporting a model to different one, rigorous evaluations can offer important insight. In this session, J-PAL will discuss three important (and often overlooked) ways to use evidence when deciding if and how to scale. Meghan and Justin will discuss theory, lessons from the field, and the nexus of both to illustrate how evidence can inform scaling decisions.

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Measurement and Meaning: Structuring Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for Multi-Component, Multi-Site Youth Initiatives

Multicomponent programs addressing dimensions of youth economic opportunity implemented by multiple organizations across multiple sites and sectors have become an increasingly popular model of development delivery. The structured variation offers the opportunity to systematically compare different interventions across participants and contexts.

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To Go Fast, Go Alone. To Go Far, Go Together: Taking A Collaborative Journey to Explore New Frontiers in ICT for M&E

Discover how Plan International, Save the Children and Accenture partnered on a joint journey to explore new frontiers in ICT4D collaborations

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Holistic Youth Development: It May Be All Right in Practice, But It Will Never Work in Theory

Kurt Lewin once said "there is nothing so practical as a good theory." A good theory of change raises new questions, grounds work in reality, forces cla

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Advance Youth Employment with Structured Experiential Learning and Evaluative Thinking (part 1)

This is the second entry of Save the Children’s blog series on the Structured Experiential Learning (SEL) process for youth employment. The first blog talked about how SEL connects data users and data producers (like Mars and Venus hanging out together!). This time, SEL has the opportunity to meet its friend: Evaluative Thinking (ET). SEL and ET introduce themselves to each other, and discuss how they can work together.

Cities of Opportunity: Drivers and Priorities for Urban Youth Economic Inclusion

Throughout history, cities have accelerated economic development and wealth creation around the world. In fact, the road to prosperity, it has been argued, inevitably runs through cities.1Though there is much heterogeneity among cities of various sizes and locales, the concentration of people, business, and services in urban areas generally allows for increased commerce, ideas and innovation.

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