Capacity for Applying Project Evaluation (CAPE)
CAPE is a suite of resources, tools, and professional development activities designed to assist program and project leaders in collecting and analyzing data they can use in making decisions about the implementation of their projects. CAPE is grounded in the belief that if school systems and individual schools have the capacity to plan and implement good evaluations, they will get the most out of their projects—to the ultimate benefit of students.
CAPE breaks the complex evaluation process into manageable steps, through the use of an evaluation framework, a collection of resources that support project evaluation planning and implementation, and a comprehensive professional development model that blends face-to-face and web-mediated activities. Educators can flexibly access CAPE resources and services to support a variety of district or school needs:
Capacity for Evaluation
CAPE assists schools and districts in developing the capacity, i.e., the organizational wherewithal, to plan and conduct evaluations of their projects and programs. CAPE was originally designed to provide a forum where technology project leaders can work together in developing the knowledge, acquiring the skills, adopting the attitudes, and using the resources that help them evaluate their technology projects, but the evaluation framework and professional development model are equally useful for any educational project or program. Project teams who participate in CAPE professional development over time build their district’s or school’s capacity for evaluation as they learn how to:
- Develop and share a common understanding of the purpose(s) of their project;
- Illustrate how their project works, i.e., the connections between the project’s activities and the desired outcomes;
- Ask pertinent questions about the implementation and impact of project activities;
- Collect, analyze, and interpret data that help answer the questions;
- Share evaluation findings with stakeholders, e.g., teachers, central office, school board; and
- Use the findings to make informed decisions for improving the project.
The CAPE Evaluation Framework
Because state agencies, districts, and schools have varying needs and interests for project evaluation, they can access and use the CAPE framework and resources in a variety of ways. If, for example, they already have an evaluation plan in place and mainly need some good instruments for data collection, they can use any of the CAPE instruments, such as the School Technology Needs Assessment or the Looking for Technology Integration classroom observation protocol. On the other hand, if they want to really understand how well their projects and programs are working, especially in terms of teaching and learning, they could use the complete CAPE framework and work toward developing the capacity for planning and conducting comprehensive project evaluations.
Using the CAPE framework to develop an evaluation plan involves three steps. First, a project team develops a logic map, i.e., a graphic representation of how their particular project works. Then, using a set of worksheets, teams outline evaluation questions, methods and measures for collecting data; benchmarks to use in gauging progress; and anticipated uses of the findings from the evaluation. With these in hand, the team outlines management and communication plans for the evaluation, showing what evaluation activities will occur, when they will take place, who will be responsible, and how information will be shared.
The CAPE evaluation framework is organized into the following components:
- Introduction: How to Use These Resources
- Overview: The CAPE Framework
- Theory: Explaining How your Project Works
- Outcomes: Goals and Objectives, and their Relationship to Strategies
- The Plan: Basic Components
- Data Sources: Some Examples
- Implementation: Putting the Evaluation to Work
- The Report: Communicating the Results
- Examples: Real Evaluation Plans and Reports
- Resources: Index of Materials Supporting Evaluation
Educators who are primarily interested in collecting data for their technology projects might be especially interested in the CAPE compendium of instruments that allow them to collect essential data for effectively evaluating the implementation and impact of technology projects in schools: staff needs, teacher reflections, technology use for teaching and learning, participants’ satisfaction with professional development events, technology incorporation into lesson plans, the quality of student projects, and the quality of family and community partnerships.
- School Technology Needs Assessment online survey;
- Looking for Technology Integration classroom observation protocol;
- School-Family-Community Partnership Survey;
- Professional development questionnaire;
- Rubrics for reviewing teachers’ lesson plans and student products.
Professional Development for Capacity Building in Evaluation
The CAPE Professional Development model is based on national standards and best practices of professional development for educators (National Staff Development Council, 2001) and is consistent with the guidelines of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2006). SERVE staff work closely with state education agency (SEA) staff to determine how the CAPE framework can best be tailored to the needs and contexts of the district and school teams. SERVE then designs a targeted evaluation support program based on those identified needs (Speck & Knipe, 2001).
Studying Practices for Increasing Capacity in Evaluation (SPICE), a two-year project designed to study the challenges and solutions of scaling up the established evaluation capacity-building effort of CAPE is supported by the Microsoft Corporation U.S. Partners in Learning (PiL) Mid-Tier program.