Step 6. Use Results
This is where all the work to collect and interpret the findings pays off. It is an opportunity to build off of what is working, change what is not working as well as it could and announce successes. This step includes: preparing the products of the evaluation like recommendations and reports, sharing them with stakeholders and other audiences, and following up to promote maximum use.
The first task is to create recommendations based on the evaluation findings. When developing recommendations:
- Align recommendations with stakeholders’ and funders’ priorities when possible.
- Share draft recommendations with stakeholders and solicit feedback before finalizing the report.
- Target recommendations appropriately for each audience. For example, a local health department might be most interested in increased physical activity levels, while local law enforcement might be more interested in decreased traffic violations.
Using the example program’s goals and findings from Step 5, a sample of potential recommendations was developed.
Program Activity: Using a Frequent Walker Punch Card to encourage students to walk or bicycle to school.
Finding A: More students walking and bicycling and parents’ surveys show more positive attitudes toward the benefits and feasibility of these travel modes.
Recommendation: Continue use of the Frequent Walker Punch Card.
Finding B: More children are not walking or bicycling and parent surveys reveal some of the reasons.
Recommendation: Adjust activity to address barriers identified by the parents.
Program Activity: Conducting an education and enforcement campaign to decrease speeding in school zones.
Finding A: Speeds reduced, parents aware of campaign and feel safer.
Recommendation: Continue campaign and monitor to see if the effect is maintained.
Finding B: Speeds reduced, parents unaware of campaign and do not feel safer.
Recommendation: Keep the enforcement program in place, but modify the educational outreach.
Finding C: Speeds not reduced, parents unaware of campaign and do not feel safer. Each of these findings would lead to different conclusions and recommendations which will be discussed in the next step.
Recommendation: A different enforcement or education technique is needed as well as other changes.
Sharing Results and Recommendations
There are several reasons to share results, including:
- Providing positive reinforcement for everyone involved, including children, families, stakeholders and funders.
- Offering a newsworthy “hook” that can result in media coverage of the program.
- Providing a way to share lessons learned.
- Communicating next steps and additional needs, thus moving the program forward.
Channels for information sharing include:
- School or community newsletters and Web sites
- Stories in the local media (see Working with the Media for tips on getting media coverage, or for more in-depth information, see the Media and Visibility chapter)
- Reports to the local decision-makers and political leaders in the community
- Meeting or conference presentations
Below shows how the school organized how they would share their program results according to the audience.
Safe Routes to School Program Evaluation Plan
School: High Hopes Elementary School
6. Plan for Using Results
|Individual or Organization with Whom to Share Results||Format in which the Results will be Shared||Channel by which the Results will be Shared||Which Results or Recommendations will be Shared|
|Community officials||Report||Town Council meeting||
|Students||Presentation||School assembly and classrooms||
|Local business contributors||Presentation||Chamber of Commerce meeting||
|Funders||Presentation/Report||News conference with funders present||
The primary purpose of sharing evaluation findings is for local program partners to know what is working and what changes to make to improve the program and to celebrate successes. Local evaluation results can have other benefits. Documented successes are needed as communities struggle to identify the best approaches for improving walking and bicycling to school. Local program leaders cite case studies as one of the most helpful types of information. Schools with programs or strategies that are evaluated to be successful are encouraged to share their results with the National Center for Safe Routes to School so that these programs can be shared with the rest of country.