• December 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 9

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Using Baseline Equivalence to Measure Program Effectiveness

Programs for children and families have a vested interest in demonstrating the effectiveness of their services. In order to do this, researchers conducting program evaluation must show that an identified person or group of people has benefited from the interventions. The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) released a report in 2014 on the importance of using baseline equivalence in measuring a program's effectiveness. The report defines baseline equivalence as the compared similarities between two groups before program service begins so as to measure the effects caused by a program from effects caused by other factors.

The report cites the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) review, which provides conditions upon which it accurately measures exceptional effectiveness in home-visiting programs by asking the following questions:

  • Why is baseline equivalence important for program evaluation?
  • How can researchers be sure that study groups are equivalent at baseline?
  • What is the HomVEE standard for baseline equivalence? How can researchers meet that standard?

The HomVEE review also provides recommendations to researchers regarding approaches that should be avoided when attempting to achieve baseline equivalency.

On Equal Footing: The Importance of Baseline Equivalence in Measuring Program Effectiveness is available at http://homvee.acf.hhs.gov/HomVEE_brief_2014-50.pdf (149 KB).

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