PE Standards Week: (Re)Introducing the JCSEE Program Evaluation Standards by Brad Watts

Hello! My name is Brad Watts, Assistant Director of The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan. In addition to my duties as a professional evaluator, I am also currently serving as Chair of the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE), the organization responsible for developing, reviewing, and approving evaluation standards in North America, including the Program Evaluation Standards. On behalf of JCSEE, I would like to welcome you to a week-long series of blogs on the Program Evaluation Standards!

Before I began working with standards with the JCSEE, first as a representative and later in leadership roles, I took for granted that evaluation standards were something that most evaluators learned about during grad school, or as part of their ongoing training in the field. Even if the book might gather dust at times (because who has time to formally conduct meta-evaluation of their own work?), the Program Evaluation Standards are a foundational document for our field. However, it has come to my attention that recognition and use of the standards may have diminished in recent years (a topic that will be discussed in a blog post later this week). As the size and breadth of the evaluation world has grown and our attention has shifted to new endeavors, it is time to reconsider evaluation standards and why the ability to define high-quality evaluations is important to our work. This week of blogs is one attempt to get the standards on your radar!

Get Involved: Share your thoughts on the standards

For those evaluation professionals who are already well-acquainted with the Program Evaluation Standards, the JCSEE would like to hear from you regarding the following:

  • How do you use the Program Evaluation Standards in your work?
  • What training or resources would help make the standards more useful to the field?
  • Is there anything you would like to see addressed (or removed) in a future revision to the standards?

Share your thoughts using the contact form on the JCSEE website and help us improve the next edition!

This week, we’re diving the Program Evaluation Standards. Articles will (re)introduce you to the Standards and the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE), the organization responsible for developing, reviewing, and approving evaluation standards in North America. 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.

1 thought on “PE Standards Week: (Re)Introducing the JCSEE Program Evaluation Standards by Brad Watts”

  1. Hi Brad,

    I am a grad student learning about the evaluation standards for the first time and I am relieved to learn that for something as socially complex as program evaluation these foundational standards exist.

    Having standards to base a practice on is something that is very familiar to me for I have been a Registered Nurse (RN) for over 30 years. In my profession, practice standards are to be followed; failure to do so will result in disciplinary action. I have learned, however, after reading through this week’s blogs that the Program Evaluation Standards simply function as a guide for evaluators. I also learned from Michael Harnar’s post (Feb 4, 2020) (
    that even among AEA members, integration of the standards into practice is not the norm.

    Speaking only as a beginning learner of program evaluation, I would say that these program evaluation standards are too important to providing the basis of a good, ethical, just, useful and accurate evaluation to lie buried in the internet or gathering dust on a bookshelf. I read in this week’s blogs that conferences are a good way to get the word out on the street to evaluators. Have you considered educating stakeholders about them? Are there TOR templates that reference them available for stakeholders to look at? What about having them more visible on the AEA home webpage so that if a stakeholder clicked on to find an evaluator they would also see the Program Evaluation Standards? When I went searching I found the standards website at the bottom of the AEA competencies page but no active link.

    Thanks for considering the ramblings of a student. I really appreciate and value the work and effort that has gone into crafting the Program Evaluation Standards.


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