Summer 1985 // Volume 23 // Number 2 // Forum // 2FRM1

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States Support A&E System


Connie McKenna
National Program Leader
Program Development, Evaluation and Management Systems
Extension Service
Washington, D.C.

There's a lot that states like about our upgraded accountability and evaluation (A&E) system! In the spring of 1984, A&E liaison contacts previously identified by Extension directors/administrators for the Extension Service-Program Development, Evaluation and Management Systems Unit (PDEMS) were surveyed on their reactions to the revised accountability and evaluation system. Thirty-one institutions representing 29 states responded. Here's a summary of perceived benefits they reported in descending order of frequency cited. (items with five or fewer mentions aren't included.)

  • Emphasis on reporting program results.
  • Computerized reporting/retrieval.
  • Less paperwork.
  • More involvement of lay advisory groups.
  • Stronger evaluation linking the Narrative Annual Report System (NARS) to Plans ofk.
  • Greater use of teams and interdisciplinary approaches to programming.
  • Improvements in planning and reporting systems.
  • More long-range, comprehensive planning.
  • ES critique of Plans of Work and NARS.
  • Identification of high priority, statewide clientele needs.
  • Sharing program results.
  • Tying FTE and budgets to priorities.

States are well on their way to translating these potential benefits into actualities. Year one of the first four-year program cycle is already history. The estimated impacts projected in state Plans of Work submitted August 1, 1983, are roughly 25% achieved. The nearly 2,000 accomplishment reports that arrived in November, 1984, proudly track progress made to date.

Now the Extension A&E Council, ECOP programrelated subcommittees, Extension Service A&E Committee, and others are working closely with PDEMS staff to review and refine the A&E system, looking for ways to make the upcoming second cycle Plan of Work even more effective. A major source of input for these deliberations are the constructive criticisms solicited as part of the survey.

Meanwhile, many states have already made changes in their program development process and planning and reporting procedures to better accommodate the current A&E system capabilities. Several are exploring additional possibilities.

This careful attention to fine-tuning by the county, state, and federal partners is our best assurance that Extension is using the A&E system as a guide to planning-and proving that we deliver-targeted, results-oriented programs well into the future.