“In reality, winning begins with accountability. You cannot sustain success without accountability. It is an absolute requirement!” (from walkthetalk.com.)
I’m quoting here. I wish I had thought of this before I read it. It is important in everyone’s life, and especially when evaluating.
Webster’s defines accountability as, “…“the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation (emphasis added) or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.” The business dictionary goes a little further and defines accountability as “…The obligation of an individual (or organization) (parentheses added) to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”
It’s that last part to which evaluators need to pay special attention; the “disclose results in a transparent manner” part. There is no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you do “the right thing”; that you read the appropriate document; that you report the findings you found not what you know the client wants to hear. If you maintain accountability, you are successful; you will win.
AEA has a adopted a set of Guiding Principles for the organization and its members. The principles are 1) Systematic inquiry; 2) Competence; 3) Integrity/Honesty; 4) Respect for people; and 5) Responsibilities for the General and Public Welfare. I can see where accountability lies within each principle. Can you?
AEA has also endorsed the Program Evaluation Standards of which there are five as well. They are: 1) Utility, 2) Feasibility, 3) Proprietary, 4) Accuracy, and 5) Evaluation accountability. Here, the developers were very specific and made accountability a specific category. The Standard specifically states, “The evaluation accountability standards encourage adequate documentation of evaluations and a metaevaluative perspective focused on improvement and accountability for evaluation processes and products.”
You may be wondering about the impetus for this discussion of accountability (or, not…). I have been reminded recently that only the individual can be accountable. No outside person can do it for him or her. If there is an assignment, it is the individual’s responsibility to complete the assignment in the time required. If there is a task to be completed, it is the individual’s responsibility (and Webster’s would say obligation) to meet that responsibility. It is the evaluator’s responsibility to report the results in a transparent manner–even if it is not what was expected or wanted. As evaluator’s we are adults (yes, some evaluation is completed by youth; they are still accountable) and, therefore, responsible, obligated, accountable. We are each one responsible–not the leader, the organizer, the boss. Each of us. Individually. When you are in doubt about your responsibility, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to clarify that responsibility however works best for you. (My rule to live by number 2: Ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get; if you do, you might not get.)
Remember, only you are accountable for your behavior–No. One. Else. Even in an evaluation.; especially in an evaluation