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TB Notes Newsletter
No. 4, 2005
What’s on Your TB Program Holiday
Fall is in the air, and before you know it, the holidays
will be here. More importantly, December 16th
will be here! Do you have your TB program wish list ready? Do you
have the evidence to support your wish list? Most importantly, do
you have an Evaluation Plan for your program so you can have this
wish list and the evidence to support it?
The DTBE deadline for submitting a TB Program Evaluation Plan
is December 16. By now all program managers and staff should
have heard the news about TB program evaluations from their Program
Consultant as well as other sources. DTBE, along with many other
CDC programs, is requiring all state programs to formalize program
evaluation following the CDC Program Evaluation Framework. DTBE’s
Evaluation Working Group (EWG) has been working to educate TB Controllers
on the purpose, process, and products of evaluation. There have
been several opportunities for staff to familiarize themselves with
program evaluation, including NTCA workshops, webinars, and other
in-person trainings. A Guide to Developing a TB Program Evaluation
Plan is currently available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/Program_Evaluation/default.htm
and will help you meet that December 16 deadline. Other materials
that comprise the TB Program Evaluation Toolkit will be available
soon; stay tuned!
What’s that you say? You know all this. You’ve read the
materials (or at least browsed through them) and you’ve attended
at least one training session. But maybe you still don’t know where
or how to begin evaluating or planning to evaluate. Exactly what
is it that DTBE and the EWG want you to do? For those conducting
their first program evaluation, the materials, terminology, and
methods can be overwhelming. For those accustomed to program evaluation,
it can be frustrating to change an existing practice to a different
standardized, systematic process.
Although change can be daunting or stressful, we want to reassure
you that evaluations are going to help all of us in TB control do
our jobs better. Planning for evaluations is going to make the evaluation
process that much easier. Remember, we are all focused on the same
goal: TB elimination. Evaluations will help us get closer to that
Where do I start with my Evaluation Plan?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Set a time for PE. We are not talking about prevention
effectiveness or physical education. Set an hour or so of your
week to dedicate to Program Evaluation. During this time,
you can follow the steps below to get you started on writing a
Program Evaluation Plan. New activities, including evaluation,
take time to integrate. Once the system is in place, the process
- Review your CoAg, Progress Reports and other data sources.
Believe it or not, a good chunk of the information required for
your Program Evaluation Plan will come from your CoAg and your
Progress Reports. Flip through these documents with program evaluation
in mind. Along with the CoAg and Progress Reports, look at other
data that monitor your program performance like ARPEs and RVCTs.
In what area does your program consistently struggle to meet objectives?
In which areas does your program seem to be doing well, despite
- Pick an activity. For first-time evaluation planners,
trying to determine programs or objectives to evaluate can be
overwhelming. Try to focus on an activity within a program area
that aims to meet an objective. Think about geographic areas in
your state increasingly susceptible to TB outbreaks. Once you’ve
reviewed your program’s existing information, you should have
a good idea about which program activities work well and which
ones need improvement. Think about your program’s priorities
and select an activity or small group of related activities to
evaluate. New activities can be evaluated to see that they
are implemented as planned; ongoing activities can be evaluated
to ensure they are producing the results intended. You have most
of the information necessary for a Program Evaluation Plan. Pick
an area or activity and go for it!
- Read the samples. Go through the materials provided by
DTBE’s Evaluation Working Group and first look at the examples.
Keep your activity in mind as you read them. How are the examples
similar to your activity? What areas are different? How can your
activity fit in these samples? Again, the best place to start
looking at examples, models, and table shells for your Evaluation
Plan is http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/Program_Evaluation/default.htm
- Trial and Error. Now, give it a go! Once you have the
process on paper, it will be easier to rethink and edit. Start
writing and create a draft.
- Ask Us! The Evaluation Working Group is here to serve
you. We know this is a new process for many of you, and we want
to help. We’re happy to look at drafts, help you pick an activity
to evaluate, or simply provide moral support. Just let us know!
We want you to get all you wished for this holiday season—or at
least have a good plan to make a great case for it! E-mail us
at TBEWG@cdc.gov or call Maureen Wilce (404-639-5300)
or Kai Young (404-639-2217).
Questions, Questions, Questions!
Many of you are moving along with your evaluation plans—or at least
thinking about it. You have submitted wonderful questions and have
identified areas of confusion to EWG. Here are some frequently asked
questions to help.
Q. What period of time does the Evaluation Plan cover?
A. The time frame for an evaluation plan depends on the program
activity you choose to evaluate. Time frames can vary, but should
be realistic, practical, and meaningful for the program. Evaluation
Plans become an integrated part of your program process.
Q. Doesn’t the Annual Progress Report already provide sufficient
A. The Annual Progress Report states whether the program is meeting
its objectives or not. It does not provide formal evidence for how
those objectives were successfully met or why they were not met.
The Evaluation Plan will help you map out a systematic process to
gather this information and provide evidence-based findings as a
useful decision-making tool for future program planning and continuation.
Your Program Evaluation will feed back into your CoAg and become
an iterative process.
Q. My program has no resources to devote to evaluation; how
can I meet this requirement?
A. Program evaluation is a necessary part of program management.
It is a systematic process to clarify and make explicit why a program
is successful or not. According to the Cooperative Agreement, you
should already be actively evaluating your program. We are now asking
you to systematize the process and regularly report your progress.
Q. Do we have to evaluate all of our goals and objectives at
our state TB program and all local programs?
A. No, it is rarely feasible to conduct an evaluation of that
scale. Instead, you should work with your stakeholders to identify
what information is most needed about the TB program and its activities. A
Guide to Developing a TB Program Evaluation Plan can provide
you with ideas about focusing your evaluation.
Q. Do we have to evaluate all components of our program?
A. No. Although the evaluation process asks you to consider how
all components of a program interrelate, it also asks you to focus
on priority issues and activities.
Q. Do we have to use the Guide and Template?
A. No. The Guide and Template are tools designed to assist you
in the process. In addition, your following the Guide will help
us provide technical assistance to you if you require it. However,
to be considered complete, your plan should address all of the elements
listed in the guide.
Q. The sample plan in the Guide is quite long. Do we have to
develop plans that are that extensive?
A. No. The sample plan, as a teaching tool, provides context and
explanations that would not be required in your plans. Your evaluation
plan need not be more than a few pages long, but needs to address
the items requested in the template and tables.
Remember to focus on your goal: an evidence-based TB program wish
—Submitted by Anupa Deshpande, MPH, and Linda Leary,
Division of TB Elimination