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Evidence-Based Programming Across Cooperative Extension

Evidence-based programming enables CE professionals to use and enhance programs that have already proven effective, saving time and effort. Communities directly benefit from the accelerated adoption of proven programs demonstrating the potential for measurable local impact.

Convo 3 Spotlight: Evidence in Extension

Throughout our series of conversations we are consistently attracting both returning and new participants. This has been extremely helpful as we explore the possibilities and what might work for gauging evidence in Extension.


1) Why would professionals work toward documenting evidence? The compelling reasons to document evidence included being more responsive to funders and future funders, to add validity to Extension programming, increase professional integrity to provide trustworthy and credible information, and to mimic proven programs that had achieved evidence.

2) Recommendations for building a rubric or scorecard to gauge the level of evidence achieved. Participants felt it would be efficient and important to start with implemented models or rubrics for identifying evidence-based programs to establish benchmarks. In doing so, look for how we identify weak versus strong evidence and the use of the Theory of Change models in the intervention’s delivery. Additionally, identify what is commonly measured in existing rubrics or scorecards for identifying evidence.

3) What process should be in place to make doing this easy and possible within Cooperative Extension? It was suggested that a national registry of programs would reveal not only those that meet a highest standard of evidence but a ranking of evidence since many educators do not have access to evaluation specialists. Considering how this process is worded to speak to all educators will be important. For example, the term β€œrubric” may need to be renamed. Provide a clear process that addresses how the registry will be maintained, how educators will get feedback for modifications for increased performance, coupled with resources for professionals to demonstrate evidence. Addressing how acceptance into the registry will provide data back for professional performance evaluations and promotion & tenure needs to be considered.


Overall themes across breakout rooms yielded additional questions about developing a standard process to gauge evidence in Extension:

  • How can educators isolate program effects to the intervention?
  • Can one rubric or scorecard meet the uniqueness of all disciplines?
  • What support (evaluators and support staff) do professionals have to bring programs to high levels of evidence?
  • How can educators develop skills to select the appropriate evaluation strategies for the specific intervention?

With all good convenings, more questions arise and we appreciate how these questions or gaps help insure that concerns are addressed as we continue to develop these concepts.


Our next session will take a different approach. You will be presented with three sample processes to gauge evidence from a 1) non-federal agency, 2) federal agency, and 3) related work in Extension. We will compare and contrast an example of each in the breakout sessions for Conversation 5 on Monday, March 21, 2022. Register today.

Note: Convo 4 was postponed to Convo 5 and we choose not to relabel the calendar events and registration setup.

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

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