Program Evaluation

A Historical Overview
Part of the Evaluation in Education and Human Services book series (EEHS, volume 6)


Program evaluation is often mistakenly, viewed as a recent phenomenon. People date its beginning from the late 1960s with the infusion by the federal government of large sums of money into a wide range of human service programs, including education. However, program evaluation has an interesting history that predates by at least 150 years the explosion of evaluation during the era of President Johnson’s Great Society and the emergence of evaluation as a maturing profession since the sixties. A definitive history of program evaluation has yet to be written and in the space available to us we can do little more than offer a modest outline, broad brush strokes of the landscape that constitutes that history. It is important that people interested in the conceptualization of evaluation are aware of the field’s roots and origins. Such an awareness of the history of program evaluation should lead to a better understanding of how and why this maturing field has developed as it did. As Boulding (1980) has observed, one of the factors that distinguishes a mature and secure profession from one that is immature and insecure is that only the former systematically records and analyzes its history. Therefore since program evaluation continues to mature as a profession, its origins and roots need to be documented.


School District Program Evaluation Historical Overview American Educational Research Association Royal Commission 
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