AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



EEE Week: Suzanne Le Menestrel on Developing Common Measures

Greetings! My name is Suzanne Le Menestrel and I am a National Program Leader for Youth Development Research at the 4-H National Headquarters, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.  4-H is a national youth development organization serving 6 million youth throughout the country. We partner with the nation’s Cooperative Extension system operated by the more than 100 land-grant universities and colleges and with National 4-H Council, our private, non-profit partner. Recent trends in funding have elevated the importance of illustrating impact and accountability for nonformal educational programs.  We were also interested in building capacity for evaluation through the creation of easy-to-use and accessible tools.  We partnered with National 4-H Council, state 4-H program leaders, 4-H specialists and Extension evaluators from around the country to create a national 4-H common measures system that will also enable us to aggregate data across very diverse 4-H programs.

I have learned a number of lessons through the implementation of this new system.

Lessons Learned:

    • Common measures must be developmentally appropriate. Children and youth who participate in 4-H range in age from ages 5 to 19.  Because of concerns about reading levels and developmental appropriateness, we focused the common measures on ages 9 to 18. We also divided up the measures into two levels—one for children and youth in grades 4 through 7 and one for youth in grades 8 through 12.
    • Common measures must have strong psychometric properties.  As much as possible, we drew from existing measures but have been conducting analyses with both pilot and preliminary data.
    • Measures must be applicable to a broad variety of programs. 4-H looks very different from county to county and state to state. We started with the creation of a national 4-H logic model that represents desired program outcomes.

Clipped from


  • Common measures must be available through a flexible, easy-to-use, and robust on-line platform.  This includes the ability to add custom items.
  • Training and technical assistance are key to the implementation of common measures in a complex, multi-faceted organization such as 4-H.
  • Buy-in and support from stakeholders is critical as is creating an ongoing system for soliciting stakeholder feedback.
  • Such a system cannot be developed without sufficient funding to support the on-line platform, technical assistance, and on-going formative evaluation.
  • Common measures are a flexible product that needs to grow and change with the outcomes of the organization.

Rad Resource:

Check out this article written by Pam Payne and Dan McDonald on using common evaluation instruments.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Extension Education Evaluation (EEE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the EEE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EEE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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1 comment

  • Charles · April 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Suzanne for this blog post! Could you share what “flexible, easy-to-use, and robust online platform” you used?


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