Individual, important evaluation studies will continue to take place.

Individual, important evaluation studies will continue to take place.

Individual, important evaluation studies will continue to take place. But evaluators have moved from a comparatively narrow focus on methodological issues in the early years to today’s broader consideration of the role of evaluation in organizations. Evaluators have recognized that they need to know more about organizational culture, learning, and change, drawing from other disciplines in addition to their knowledge of evaluation theories and practices. They need to identify ways to create an openness to evaluative information and to improving organizational performance, not just the performance of an individual program or policy. As evaluators think of organizational change and learning, they become involved in evaluation-related activities such as planning, performance monitor- ing, and even fiscal and budgetary decisions. They recognize the need for cooper- ation across departments or systems that address these related issues so that those gathering and providing information are not working at cross-purposes, but, in- stead, are collaborating and learning from each other about the information they collect and the methods they use to disseminate information and get it used. Preskill and Boyle (2008) write about the need for organizations to develop “an integrated knowledge-management system” (p. 455) that is aligned with other in- formation systems in the organization. Such systems are essential for many rea- sons, but reflect the need for planning across systems to maintain information for learning and decisions in the future.

The role of evaluation vis-à-vis schools, organizations, government agencies, and funding sources is changing and will continue to change due to the trends we have discussed here. Evaluation is expanding and becoming more important in the twenty-first century as the world faces critical economic and social challenges. Policymakers, managers, and the public now expect and demand evaluative information, though they may call it by different names.

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