The Center for Practical Evaluation (CPE) is an applied research center of the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute. The major aims of CPE activities and initiatives are the development and use of approaches to evaluation grounded in a promotional, asset-based, and capacity-building theory. CPE evaluations inform practice, research, and policy regarding program practices that are related to healthy child, adult, and family development.


David at ConferenceCPE staff develop and implement, in partnership with program personnel, practical evaluations as critical tools for learning and ongoing program improvement, informing program practices, and for making informed decisions about the optimal use of program resources. Center staff explore the adoption and use of promotional, asset-based, capacity-building approaches to evaluation of community-based programs and initiatives. This is accomplished using participatory methods involving various stakeholders in the evaluation and decision-making process.

The Center provides a forum for researchers, program developers, family members, practitioners, and program funders to explore the usefulness of practical evaluations for relating process and outcome measures in order to provide program staff information useful for improving practices with children, parents, and families.



The mission of the Center for Practical Evaluation is to develop, promote, and utilize practical evaluation approaches in the fields of early intervention, early childhood education, and parent and family support.


The goals of the Center for Practical Evaluation are:

  • Develop a promotional, evaluation framework that is useful and practical for diverse stakeholders involved in the evaluation process.
  • Advance understanding of evaluation practice and theory through the conduct of research reviews and synthesis of the characteristics and consequences of a promotional approach by conducting evaluations.
  • Investigate the characteristics and consequences of promotional approaches to evaluation.
  • Strengthen the capacity of various stakeholders to conduct promotional evaluations through dialogue, training, and technical assistance with funders, policymakers, program staff and administrators, and program participants and community members.
  • Develop evaluation methods and materials based on research findings and knowledge that inform the use of promotional approaches to evaluation.
  • Disseminate products and promote utilization of evaluation resources and practices that promote and maximize the utility of asset-based, promotional, and capacity-building evaluation methods.
  • Activities

  • Conduct program evaluations that provide information useful for assessing both program processes (activities) and outcomes (benefits).
  • Use asset-based, promotional concepts as frameworks to develop a doable, manageable approach for evaluating programs and community-based initiatives.
  • Review and synthesize research findings from diverse fields to identify the characteristics and consequences of practical evaluations of program and community initiatives.
  • Conduct research and evaluation studies examining the key characteristics and consequences of asset-based, promotional approaches to program evaluation practices.
  • Provide training and technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of local program staff in the process of conducting a promotional, asset-based evaluation, including conceptualization and planning, data collection, measurement, analysis, and utilization of findings.
  • Develop and disseminate products and tools for conducting practical evaluations to inform practice, research, and policy.
  • Products

    Winterberry Press is the official distributor of materials produced by the Center for Practical Evaluation. Practical Evaluation Reports will be available below, or you may visit the Assessment Methods and Assessment Scales section of the Winterberry Press web site to find additional relevant material.

    Practical Evaluation Reports

  • Algoma Client-Centered Care Tool: An Evaluation Scale for Assessing Staff Use of Client-Centered Practices
  • Systematic Review of Studies Promoting the Use of Assistive Technology Devices by Young Children with Disabilities
  • Research Synthesis of Studies Investigating the Relationships Between Practitioner Beliefs and Adoption of Early Childhood Intervention Practices
  • Influences of Contrasting Types of Training on Practitioners’ and Parents’ Use of Assistive Technology and Adaptations with Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers with Disabilities
  • Characteristics and Consequences of Adult Learning Methods and Strategies
  • Mapping the Adoption, Application, and Adherence to Family Support Principles
  • Family Resource Programs, Promotion Models, and Enhancement Outcomes


    A Practical Model for Conceptualizing and Conducting Program Evaluations

    The major goals of this project are to develop, field-test, and update a practical approach to conceptualizing and conducting program evaluations. The practical evaluation model constituting the focus of development includes the assessment of four major program-related elements: (a) program goals and objectives, (b) program activities, (c) staff helpgiving behavior, and (d) participant benefits. The focus of evaluation using the model discerns whether a program did what it said it would do (activities) in ways it said it would do it (staff helpgiving behavior) that produce expected outcomes (participant benefits) consistent with stated program intentions (goals and objectives).

    Measuring Adoption, Application and Adherence (AAA) to Family Support Principles

    The major goals of the AAA Principles Project are the development and use of family support principles (belief statements) as standards and benchmarks for judging the extent to which family support program practices are consistent with guiding beliefs. Principles are conceptualized as behavioral promises and program guarantees regarding staff and program practices that family members can expect as part of their participation in family support programs. Family member assessment of the degree of adherence to family support principle indicators is used as the primary means for ascertaining the match between belief statements and practitioner and program practices.

    Parenting and Family Support Program Practices Scale

    The major goals of the Parenting and Family Support Program Practices Scale are to develop and field-test measurement procedures for ascertaining the extent to which a program meets exacting criteria for being a family support or resource program. The scale includes six sets of measures (guiding beliefs and values, program foundations, parent education practices, parenting support practices, family resource practices, and community engagement practices) that are used for assessing whether a program has adopted and used practices in each program component. Both self-assessment and research versions of the scale are being field-tested to determine their usefulness for both planning program improvements and investigating the operational characteristics of family support programs related to participant benefits.

    PRomotional Indicators System of Evaluation (PRISE)

    The major goal of PRISE is to provide a structure for systematically identifying a program’s goals and objectives for the purpose of developing an evaluation that includes both promotional process and promotional outcome indicators. The PRISE involves the use of a procedure for facilitating the operationalization of process and outcome indicators. The procedure has program staff first identify the target groups of their program (children, youth, families, parents, communities, etc.) and then facilitates identification of the major promotional outcomes for each group (physical well-being, emotional well-being, parenting competence, etc.). This information, in turn, is used by program staff to develop promotional indicators that are used to conduct a program evaluation.

    Quality Enhancement Indicators Project

    The major goals of the Quality Enhancement Indicators project are to develop, field-test, and evaluate the utility of two program quality indicators scales in Early Head Start Programs. One scale measures the extent to which programs and organizations meet exacting criteria for being considered family support and resource programs. The other scale measures the extent to which family programs and organizations use promotional approaches to achieve positive outcomes in children, parents, and families. The scales are currently being used with Early Head Start program staff in six states to improve child, parent, and family-level practices. Staff members use participatory self-assessment methods to assess their programs’ practices and to develop procedures for improving practices. The project is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Southeast Regional Hub.

    Family Resource Program Evaluation Project

    The major goal of the Family Resource Program Evaluation Project is to develop a process and set of procedures that family support programs can use to evaluate different aspects of their work with families. A Center for Practical Evaluation Survey is used by community-based family support programs to gather information to ascertain the extent to which program participants are involved in different program activities and are treated in ways consistent with family support principles. The survey also asks respondents to describe different benefits they and other family members realize from their involvement in the programs. Center for Practical Evaluation staff are available to compile information for the survey and provide feedback to programs about their practices and reported benefits.

    Early Intervention Program Evaluation Project

    The major goal of the Early Intervention Program Evaluation Project is to assist Part C early childhood intervention programs in conducting evaluations of their programs. This is accomplished using a Center for Practical Evaluation Survey that includes measures of different aspects of program practices and participant benefits. The survey provides Part C early intervention programs a means to gather information from parents regarding the (a) frequency, duration, and location of services, (b) extent to which respondents have been treated in a family-centered manner, (c) different aspects of natural learning environment practices, (d) parenting competence and confidence in enhancing their child’s functioning, and (e) child’s functional and behavioral progress. CPE staff members are available to assist programs with data entry, analysis, and report preparation.


    The American Evaluation Association

    Website: www.eval.org

    Devoted to the application and exploration of evaluation in all its forms.

    The Evaluation Center

    Website: www.wmich.edu/evalctr

    The Evaluation Center's mission is to advance the theory, practice, and utilization of evaluation. The Center's principal activities are research, development, dissemination, service, instruction, and national and international leadership in evaluation.

    Harvard Family Research Project Evaluation Exchange

    Website: www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/eval.html

    Harvard Family Research Project's evaluation periodical, The Evaluation Exchange, addresses current issues facing program evaluators of all levels, with articles written by the most prominent evaluators in the field. Designed as an ongoing discussion among evaluators, program practitioners, funders, and policymakers, The Evaluation Exchange highlights innovative methods and approaches to evaluation, emerging trends in evaluation practice, and practical applications of evaluation theory.

    Innovation Network

    Website: www.innonet.org

    Innonet.org is the website of Innovation Network, a nonprofit organization working to share the power of evaluation with non-profit's and funders. We're dedicated to developing and sharing evaluation tools and know-how with non-profit's and funders, so they can do their work more effectively.

    Pathways Mapping Initiative

    Website: www.aecf.org

    Pathways are intended to strengthen the capacity of service providers, community groups, funders,and policy makers to achieve important outcomes. Currently, the site contains information about "what works" in community efforts to ensure that families are economically successful and that children are ready for school.