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SEA Affiliate Week: “Jazzing Up” Evaluation Reports by Rhonda Williams
American Evaluation Association (AEA) American Evaluation Association (AEA)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington , DC
Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Hello! My name is Rhonda Williams, and I am a Research and Evaluation Analyst for Region 10 Education Service Center. I provide internal program evaluations in addition to external research and evaluation services for our partner school districts.
I was inspired by Ann K. Emery’s, A Two-Hour Turnaround: How to Transform a Text-Heavy Report into a Visual-Lite Report.  Evaluation reports are a synthesis of technical information, which means care and attention should be given to their content and packaging.  Evaluators do an excellent job of reporting findings that include important narratives, key metrics, and intentional recommendations.  Yet, to facilitate a greater understanding of the data presented to stakeholders, extra steps should be taken to create final reports that are visually pleasing!
In my role, I have created several surveys linked to organizational strategic plans and priorities.  These surveys were administered on more than one occasion to compare statistical differences.  This information gives key leaders and stakeholders the ability to see areas for growth and opportunity.  Since the data are compiled by the survey tool used, I took time to “jazz up” the reports to make the data more eye-catching.  Some of the modifications are shown in the example below:  I increased the thickness of both axes, and bolded the current year data and used contrasting colors to make current year data stand out.
survey data column chart
After determining if the report readers are going to be executive-level, staff-level, or board members, appropriate versions of the final reports can be produced.  For reports that will be disseminated to a large group of stakeholders and shared more broadly, perhaps even publically on a website, I place a greater emphasis on jazzing up the look of the report.  I spend quite a bit of time in determining the type of footer, header, title, and section headers I want to use.
Additionally, I consider the organization’s branding and logo placement when presenting findings.  Jazzing up evaluation reports requires extra time and effort, but the result is that your work presents findings that are relatable, understandable, visually pleasing, and more likely to make a lasting impact!
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

About AEA

The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association and the largest in its field. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products and organizations to improve their effectiveness. AEA’s mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods worldwide, to increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action. For more information about AEA, visit www.eval.org.

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