Define Desired Outcomes

Why it Matters

Outcomes represent a grant program’s impact. They answer the question: “What difference did this program make for participants?” 

Benefits of Defining Desired Outcomes:

  • Improves the ability to clearly communicate the grant’s purpose, intended impact, and objectives, ensuring resources are directed toward specific, measurable goals.
  • Enables grantees to focus strategically on the grant activities that will help them achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Increases communication, transparency, and trust with grantees and other stakeholders by creating a shared understanding of what is expected and how success will be measured.
  • Allows state education agencies (SEAs) to distribute funds more purposefully, efficiently, and effectively.
  • Creates a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of funded programs by establishing specific, measurable targets, making it possible to assess what works and what doesn’t and creating opportunities for learning and improvement.
  • Helps SEAs and grantees invest in relationships with implementation partners that prioritize the same outcomes.
  • Opens the door to outcomes-based grantmaking and outcomes-based contracting.

Outcomes Should:

Priority Outcomes in Performance Management & Evaluation

SEAs’ performance management and evaluation plans should be designed to provide grantees and the SEA with information on whether and to what degree the grant program is achieving its desired, priority outcomes.

For this reason, outcomes should be measurable. In establishing and communicating priority outcomes, SEAs should be specific and transparent about:

  • The types of data that can be used to measure performance on outcomes (e.g., if measuring student proficiency, what assessment(s) can be used).

  • The threshold that needs to be passed in order for an outcome to be ‘met’ (e.g., if measuring student proficiency, what counts as proficient).

  • The frequency with which progress towards achieving outcomes will be measured.

  • Any leading indicators that the SEA will measure as a part of understanding progress towards achieving a priority outcome.

Logic Models

A logic model is a tool that SEAs can use to visually represent the relationship between a grant program’s resources, planned activities and intended short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes and outputs.