Scope, depth and focus

Internal evaluations vary greatly in scope, depth and focus depending on the purpose and the context. An evaluation may be strategic, linked to vision, values, goals and targets; or it may be a business-as-usual review of, for example, policy or procedures. It could also be a response to an unforeseen (emergent) event or issue.

Figure 1 shows how these different purposes can all be viewed as part of a common improvement agenda.


 diagram with learners at centre showing different types of internal evaluation

Strategic evaluation

Strategic evaluations focus on activities related to your vision, values and goals. They aim to find out to what extent your vision is being realised, goals achieved, and progress made. Strategic evaluations are a means of answering such key questions as: To what extent are all our learners experiencing success? To what extent are improvement initiatives making a difference for all learners? How can we do better? Because strategic evaluations delve into matters, they need to be in-depth and they take time.

Regular evaluation

Regular (planned) evaluations are business-as-usual evaluations or inquiries where data is gathered, progress towards goals is monitored, and the effectiveness of programmes or interventions is assessed. They ask: To what extent do our policies and practices promote the learning and wellbeing of all learners? How fully have we implemented the policies we have put in place to improve outcomes for all learners? How effective are our strategies for accelerating the progress of target learners? Business-as-usual evaluations vary in scope and depth and feed back into your strategic and annual plans.

Emergent evaluation

Emergent (or spontaneous) evaluations are a response to an unforeseen event or an issue picked up by routine scanning or monitoring. Possible focus questions include: What is happening? Who for? Is this okay? Should we be concerned? Why? Do we need to take a closer look? Emergent evaluations arise out of high levels of awareness about what is happening.

To think about and discuss

>    What is the focus of our evaluations?

>    Do we use all three types of evaluation (strategic, regular and emergent)?

>    In what areas could we improve our understanding and practice of evaluation?

>    How do we ensure that all evaluation supports our vision, values and strategic goals?

>    How do we ensure that all evaluation promotes equitable outcomes for learners?