This training and technical assistance (TTA) resource for participants in the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) Innovative Prosecution Solutions (IPS) for Combating Violent Crime defines the various types of assessments that IPS grantees can use in determining a strategy’s effectiveness, shares case studies of existing grantees’ assessments, and provides additional resources.
The IPS initiative encourages prosecutors and agencies to use an evidence-based approach for strategies intended to counter violent crime. This involves the collection and analysis of data in both developing strategies and determining the impact a strategy is having on targeted crimes. Grantees are also encouraged to share lessons learned from the implementation process in supporting other jurisdictions with similar needs. This guide profiles five types of assessments: 1) Needs Assessment and Problem Identification (formative); 2) Implementation Assessment (summative); 3) Outcome Assessment (summative); 4) Impact Assessment (summative); and 5) Performance Measures (summative). The purpose and questions answered for each of these types of assessments are indicated. Formative assessments identify needs or problems or examine how a strategy operates. They are conducted during the development and implementation of a program or practice. Summative assessments measure outcomes, impact, or performance and are conducted once the dimensions of the program or practice are well-established. Steps are outlined for how to develop an evidence base for an IPS strategy. Examples are provided of implementation assessments conducted by IPS grantees. A concluding comment notes that the relatively short length of the grant period, along with the use of innovative, adapting practices and a small target population may not favor a rigorous outcome assessment. A strong process assessment plan may be more practical. The features of such a plan are outlined.