Measuring Program Effectiveness

Measuring program effectiveness is important to:

  • Show an outcome that demonstrates that the program met or exceeded the objectives
  • Help determine if the program needs to be adjusted or changed
  • Document the need for continued funding or program expansion

What is measured must relate to the objectives established for the program, and should include observable phenomena — things that can be seen and quantified. Outcomes to be measured could include:

  • Number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities
  • Behaviors (such as looking, crossing, yielding, and driving behaviors)
  • Knowledge, opinions, and attitudes
  • Changes in organizational activity

How and when a program/project is evaluated is determined by the objectives and activities of the project. It is easier to measure the success of a program if decisions are made about what to measure and how/when to evaluate it before implementing the program.

The Art of Appropriate Evaluation is a NHTSA guide for highway safety program managers that provides step-by-step instructions for measuring and evaluating program effectiveness.