From Then to Now: Emerging Directions for Youth Program Evaluation

Mary E. Arnold, Melissa Cater


Understanding the impact of youth development programs has been an important topic since the programs first began, and the past 25 years in particular have witnessed considerable advances in the evaluation of youth development programs. This article presents a brief history of youth development program evaluation, considering how it has changed over the years. From there, three contemporary trends related to youth program evaluation are examined: 1) a new evaluation focus, which is the emphasis on evaluating program quality; 2) organizational structures related to effective program evaluation, primarily in the area of program evaluability and evaluation capacity building; and 3) an emerging evaluation approach, involving youth in evaluating the programs that affect them. The article concludes with a call for programs to attend carefully to program implementation quality.

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