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Page History: Training Program Evaluation

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Page Revision: 9/2/2016 2:01:56 PM

Training Program Evaluation


Attend OPM's FED Evalu-Con 2016 on Monday, September 26th!

Federal Employee Development Evaluation Conference (FED Evalu-Con) is hosted by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and will showcase training sessions on effective and innovative program evaluation practices and tools.  This event will provide attendees with an opportunity to increase program evaluation capacity. The event will also facilitate networking between evaluators of training and other types of evaluation programs, making the Federal evaluator community more cohesive and collaborative.

Registration is FULL for FED Evalu-Con 2016, however, you can join the event waitlist at

Event session topics include:

  • Logic Models
  • Developing Evaluation Plans
  • Obtaining Vendor Support
  • Data Collection
  • Outcome Harvesting
  • Asking the Right Evaluation Questions
  • Making Meaningful Recommendations
  • Data Visualization
  • and more!
Speaker bios will be posted shortly and be sure to check back here after the conference for copies of the presentations that were delivered.

Participants, please click here for detailed logistics information including driving or metro directions and contact information. 


What Is Training Program Evaluation?

Training program evaluation is a continual and systematic process of assessing the value or potential value of a training program.  Results of the evaluation are used to guide decision-making around various components of the training (e.g. instructional design, delivery, results) and its overall continuation, modification, or elimination. 

To assist agencies in evaluating their training programs, OPM published the 2011 OPM Training Evaluation Field Guide. The Training Evaluation Field Guide is designed to assist agency training representatives (i.e., training managers and supervisors, training liaisons/coordinators, agency evaluators, instructional designers, training facilitators and others who have a significant role in training effectiveness) in evaluating training effectiveness and in demonstrating training value to stakeholders and decision makers. Data and information were gathered from fifteen federal agency representatives who volunteered their time to attend a one-day working meeting, participate in individual interviews and submit samples of their tools and case studies. This Field Guide reflects the input from the working group.  The OPM Training Evaluation Field Guide Supplement is an abbreviated version of the OPM Training Evaluation Field Guide.

SEMINAR MATERIALS for OPM Seminar on Evaluating Leadership Development Programs—Easing into Levels 3 & 4

View this quick video for more information on the training evaluation field guide and ways agencies can use evaluation and training data to inform decisions related to training investments.

Logic Models:

Logic models are very easy tools to help you plan and evaluate your training program. A logic model provides a representation of a "theory of change" (if...then) that clearly aligns the training inputs and activities to the outputs and results.  Logic models are created in the planning phase and can be completed for programs, initiatives, individual courses, events and activities. There is an important distinction between training program evaluation and training evaluation. Training program evaluation examines the entire program including the training component, while training evaluation is assessment of the training course, process, or component within a program. For example, the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) involves a recruitment, selection and certification process. These processes, in addition to the required 80 hours of training and 4-month developmental assignment, should also be consistently monitored and evaluated to determine progress and areas of improvement.  All processes within the program contribute to program success or failure, yet all processes are not "training". Knowledge, understanding and skill in program evaluation in necessary to effectively evaluate training and development programs. 

For more detailed information on logic models, you can watch this video or take EPA's FREE Logic Modeling Course.

Contact us at if you would like training on how to use the OPM Training Evaluation Field Guide and/or Logic Models in your agency.


Agencies are required to evaluate their training programs annually to determine how well such plans and programs contribute to mission accomplishment and meet organizational performance goals (5 CFR 410.202).  The law authorizes OPM to require Federal agencies to report training data (Example: Sample Agency Training Report FY2010).  An important part of the evaluation process involves consideration of training costs, and other elements not directly addressed in the typical evaluation.  Agencies must track and report accurate training data on all completed training events to OPM as prescribed by the Final Rule on Training Reporting Requirements, published on May 17, 2006, in the Federal Register, The Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-411).

Agencies can reference the Guide for Collection and Management of Training Information for detailed information on reporting training data.

Other Evaluation Methods:
The Training Evaluation Field Guide uses the Kirkpatrick Model of evaluation as the basis of instruction.  However, there are other viable, well researched and more appropriate models available to evaluate your training program, not just the training component of your program. Agencies should use the model that more closely meets their needs.

  • Daniel Stufflebeam's CIPP Model (Context, Input, Process, Product)The CIPP Model for evaluation is a comprehensive framework for guiding formative and summative evaluations of programs, projects, personnel, products, institutions, and systems. This model was introduced by Daniel Stufflebeam in 1966 to guide mandated evaluations of U.S. federally funded projects.


  • Robert Stake's Responsive Evaluation Model: Robert Stake (1975) coined the term responsive evaluation. Responsive evaluation distinguishes four generations in the historical development of evaluation: measurement, description, judgment and negotiation. ‘Measurement’ includes the collection of quantitative data.


  • Robert Stake's Countenance Model: This model focuses on description and judgment. Stake wrote that greater emphasis should be placed on description, and that judgment was actually the collection of data. Stake wrote about connections in education between antecedents, transactions and contingencies (outcomes). He also noted connections between intentions and observations, which he called congruence. Stake developed matrices for the notation of data for the evaluation. Data is collected through these matrices.'s+Countenance+Model


  • Kaufman's Five Levels of Evaluation: Modeled after University of Wisconsin professor Donald Kirkpatrick's four level evaluation method, Roger Kaufman's theory applies five levels. It is designed to evaluate a program from the trainee's perspective and assess the possible impacts implementing a new training program may have on the client and society.



  • PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique: The Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique, commonly abbreviated PERT, is a statistical tool, used in project management that is designed to analyze and represent the tasks involved in completing a given project. First developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, it is commonly used in conjunction with the critical path method (CPM).


  • Michael Scriven's Goal-Free Evaluation Approach: This approach is premised on the assumption that an evaluation should establish the value of a program by examining what it is doing rather than what it is trying to do.


  • Illuminative Evaluation Model: An illuminative evaluation is a custom built research strategy which lacks in formal statements of objectives, avoids (but does not exclude) statistical procedures, employs subjective methods, and is primarily interested in the informing function of an evaluation, rather than the more usual inspectoral or grading functions of an evaluation.


Other Helpful Resources

Logic Model Template for Supervisory & Managerial Training:   This logic model provides agencies with a systematic and visual aid to identify a training program’s components: inputs, outputs, outcomes and evaluation methodologies, and illustrates the relationship among them.  The logic model has been prepopulated with Federal supervisory and managerial curriculum-specific examples for agencies to reference when creating their agency-specific logic model.  Once completed, the logic model will provide stakeholders with a roadmap that describes the sequence of related events.  Stakeholders will also have a clear understanding of the curriculum goals and evaluation. 

Note:  The Federal Managerial Curriculum Logic Model components have been color-coded to map to each of the stages included in the OPM Training Field Guide Supplement. 

Certifications: Both Kirkpatrick and Phillips offer training evaluation certificates although a certified evaluator is not necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of agency training. The 2011 OPM Training Evaluation Field Guide, books and/or training courses on performance measurement, program evaluation, and training evaluation should provide enough information to successfully evaluate your agency training.

Associations: The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application of many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness. The AEA has approximately 5500 members representing all 50 states in the US as well as over 60 foreign countries.



WHAT should you evaluate?

Training program evaluations can help the organization to reach many different goals during the life cycle of a training program.  One primary reason to evaluate is to determine if the benefits derived from the training justified the costs.

Some additional reasons include:

  • Examining the assumptions upon which an existing or proposed training course or program is based
  • Inquiring, up front, about the expected results
  • Assessing how much of the knowledge and skills learned during training transferred to on-the-job behaviors 
  • Collecting information about inputs, activities and outcomes.
  • Comparing it to some pre-set standards or targets.
  • Determining whether the results of the training contributed to the achievement of the organization’s goals
  • Reporting findings in a manner that facilitates their use and improves program effectiveness 

should you evaluate?

Aside from the requirement in 5 CFR 410.202, agencies face very real demands to demonstrate training program efficiency, program effectiveness and public accountability. Use of evaluation data meets these demands in various ways:

Planning: To assess needs, set priorities, direct allocation of resources, and guide policy

Analysis of Course/Program Effectiveness or Quality: To determine achievement of objective, identify strengths and weaknesses of a program/course, determine the cost-effectiveness of a program/course, and assess causes of success or failure

Direct decision-making: To improve effectiveness, identify and facilitate needed change, and continue, expand, or terminate a program/course

Maintain accountability: To stakeholders, funding sources, and the general public


WHEN should you evaluate?

There are several basic questions to ask when deciding when to carry out an evaluation. If the answers to these questions are "Yes", this may be the time to evaluate.

  • Is the program/course important or significant enough to warrant evaluation?
  • Is there a legal requirement to carry out a program evaluation?
  • Will the results of the evaluation influence decision-making about the program/course?
  • Will the evaluation answer questions posed by your stakeholders or those interested in the evaluation?




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