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PD Presenters Week: Mindy Hightower King and Courtney Brown on A Framework for Developing High Quality Performance Measurement Systems of Evaluation

Hello. We are Mindy Hightower King, Research Scientist at Indiana University and Courtney Brown, Director of Organizational Performance and Evaluation at Lumina Foundation. We have been working to strengthen and enhance performance management systems for the last decade and hope to provide some tips to help you create your own.

Lesson Learned: Why is this important?

Funders increasingly emphasize the importance of evaluation, often through performance measurement. To do this, you must develop high quality project objectives and performance measures, which are both critical to good proposals and successful evaluations.

A performance measurement system:

  • Makes it easier for you to measure your progress
  • Allows you to report progress easily and quantitatively
  • Allows everyone to easily understand the progress your program has made
  • Can make your life a lot easier

Two essential components to a performance measurement system are high quality project objectives and performance measures.

Project objectives are statements that reflect specific goals that can be used to gauge progress. Objectives help orient you toward a measure of performance outcomes and typically focus on only one aspect of a goal. Strong Project objectives concisely communicate the aims of the program and establish a foundation for high quality performance measures.

Cool Trick: When developing projective objectives, be sure to consider the following criterion of high quality project objectives: relevance, applicability, focus, and measurability.

Performance measures are indicators used at the program level to track the progress of specific outputs and outcomes a program is designed to achieve. Strong performance measures are aligned with program objectives. Good performance measurement maximizes the potential for meaningful data reporting.

Cool Trick: When developing project measures, be sure to account for the following questions:

  • What will change?
  • How much change you expect?
  • Who will achieve the change?
  • When the change will take place?

Hot Tip: Make sure your performance variables:

  • Have an action verb
  • Are measurable
  • Don’t simply state what activity will be completed 

Rad Resources: There are a host of books and articles on performance measurement systems, but here are two good online resources with examples and tips for writing high quality objectives and measures:  Guide for Writing Performance Measures  and Writing good work objectives: Where to get them and how to write them.

Want to learn more? Register for A Framework for Developing and Implementing a Performance Measurement System of Evaluation at Evaluation 2014.

This week, we’re featuring posts by people who will be presenting Professional Development workshops at Evaluation 2014 in Denver, CO. Click here for a complete listing of Professional Development workshops offered at Evaluation 2014. 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.



  • Kristina Russell · July 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for a great post!

    The link to the Guide for Writing Performance Measures is not working for me – can you help me find this resource?


  • Sarah Earl · July 30, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Hi. I found this post very helpful and went to the link for “Guide for Writing Performance Measures”. It doesn`t link to the .pdf document. Is it available elsewhere? Thanks Sarah


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