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The Sociocultural Context of Evaluation HEW

Laosa, Luis M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, HEW, Cultural Influences, Early Childhood Education, Evaluation, Minority Groups, Program Evaluation, Project Head Start


Program evaluation is the process of ascertaining the decision areas of concern, selecting appropriate information, and collecting and analyzing information in order to report summary data useful to decision-makers in selecting among alternatives. My purpose in this paper is to examine certain implications of sociocultural diversity and pluralism for educational evaluation. Although the examples and illustrations are drawn primarily from early childhood education, the general principles apply equally well not only to other levels of education but also to other types of services. Several concerns guide my analysis. First, with the increasing scarcity of fiscal resources, evaluative information is likely to gain in importance as a means of deciding among alternative ways of allocating the available resources. Second, evaluation theory and practice have failed to deal adequately with the challenges presented by sociocultural diversity and pluralism, a point I wish to illuminate. Third, the evaluative context provides a useful framework for bringing into sharp relief the issues regarding diversity and pluralism that I seek to analyze. And fourth, a discussion within the context of program evaluation, probably more so than within any other context, is likely to stimulate constructive debate regarding program and policy decisions. (39pp.)

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