Evaluation quality is a function of methodological and data inputs. This paper argues that there has been inadequate investment in methodology, often resulting in low quality evaluation outputs. With an increased focus on results, evaluation needs to deliver credible information on the role of development-supported interventions in improving the lives of poor people, so attention to sound methodology matters.
This paper explores three areas in which evaluation can be improved. First, reporting agency-wide performance through monitoring systems that satisfy the Triple-A criteria of aggregation, attribution and alignment; which includes procedures for the systematic summary of qualitative data. Second, more attention need to be paid to measuring impact, both through the use of randomisation where possible and appropriate, or through quasi-experimental methods.
However, analysis of impact needs to be firmly embedded in a theory-based approach which maps the causal chain from inputs to impacts. Finally, analysis of sustainability needs to move beyond its current crude and cursory treatment to embrace the tools readily available to the discipline.