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    What Do You Tell Non-Evaluators About Evaluation?

    Updated on: Mar 24th, 2012
    Data Visualization
    A collage of a calendar, paperclip, papers, and a presentation board.

    Here are some one-liners I’ve used:

    • To teacher friends: I do behind-the-scenes administrative stuff like analyzing standardized test scores. I bet there’s someone at your school or in the district office with a similar job.
    • To the real behind-the-scenes data analysts: I’m like a data coach. I analyze a lot of the stuff myself but mostly I teach people how to understand it. I bet there’s a data coach in most of the schools in your district with a similar job.
    • To the real data coaches, like instructional specialists: I crunch numbers.
    • To people at bars: I crunch numbers.
    • To my mom the former teacher: I crunch numbers.
    • To the real number-crunchers, aka. my dad the economist: I have no idea what you’re doing on SAS right now but it looks awesome. When I grow up I’ll learn to really crunch numbers…
    • To my husband with the non-office job: I push papers. Don’t worry, I’ll be home in time for dinner.
    • To my public policy friends taking the obligatory program evaluation course: I teach people to make logic models. Friends: “My professor said we’re skipping those. Not enough space in the syllabus.” Nevermind then…
    • To the social workers, GED instructors, youth workers, and mental health counselors at my youth center: I’m going to teach you how to collect useful information about your youth and your program so you can make decisions using that information.
    • To the external evaluators: I’m an internal evaluator.
    • To the external evaluators who think basing big decisions on results of an internal evaluation is unethical: That’s why we hired you.

    What do you tell people in just a few seconds? Evaluators do all these things and so many more. Can you really boil such a dynamic field into just a few words?

    More about Ann K. Emery
    Ann K. Emery is a sought-after speaker who is determined to get your data out of spreadsheets and into stakeholders’ hands. Each year, she leads more than 100 workshops, webinars, and keynotes for thousands of people around the globe. Her design consultancy also overhauls graphs, publications, and slideshows with the goal of making technical information easier to understand for non-technical audiences.

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