Historical Roots of Formal Evaluation

Evaluation has been around for as long as there has been government. Ideologies often take a general position: all government is bad, big government is good. The New Deal, for example, was enormously controversial, apart from how its constituent parts actually behaved. Ideology is a coherent set of integrated assertions, theories, and intentions that constitute a political, economic, or social policy. Many of us view public policy through ideological frames of reference. However, ideology does not get us into the substance of public policy evaluation.

Formal approaches to policy evaluation were initiated with the explosion of social programs of the Great Society in the late 1960s. These policies, as we have seen earlier, were legislated with little advanced policy analysis. A pioneer of formal evaluation James Coleman, a sociologist, who performed a major statistical analysis of the effects of racial integration on academic achievement. Coleman and his team concluded that racial integration caused better learning outcomes among both white and black students who experienced an integrated learning environment.

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The Public Policy Web
©by Wayne Hayes, Ph.D., ®ProfWork, July 28, 1999
November 10, 2002