Program evaluation as a diagnostic tool for improving effectiveness : a case study
Hoban, Patricia Ann
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This paper is an in-depth look at program evaluation as a diagnostic tool for improving effectiveness in the public sector. It encompasses a case study of a program evaluation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy's Advanced School. The evaluation found that although the school was meeting its objectives of providing training in technical skills and leadership to experienced Montana law enforcement officers, 10 to 20 percent of those in each class were dissatisfied -- half of them complaining that they weren't supervisors and, therefore, did not need all the management information given in the school while the other half complained that the course did not offer enough management training. The evaluation reinforced a staff recommendation to divide the school into two separate courses, one emphasizing management and the other emphasizing the technical skills and giving only the basics of supervisory practices. The decision makers accepted the recommendation; however, some complaints persisted after the changes were made in the school. MLEA decision makers now figure the original diagnosis made by the evaluation of a mismatch between the trainees and the course was correct, but the prescription of changing the course was only a partial solution. MLEA is now trying to match the trainees better to the course by encouraging law enforcement agencies to send only officers who have already assumed supervisory positions or those who are about to take on such responsibilities to the Advanced School. In this case study, this paper concludes, program evaluation was in fact a diagnostic tool for improving effectiveness in the public sector.