Reader Focused Writing Program Evaluation 

An evaluation of the Reader Focused Writing program was conducted for the Veterans Benefits Administration by a University of Illinois CIRCE team during the fall of 1997. 

On Memorial Day in 1997, Dr. William Platt, Training and Development Specialist of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), met with Stephen Guynn (freelance evaluator), Robert Stake, and other CIRCE staff members to discuss a potential evaluation contract. Prompted by their longstanding commitment to the quality of client correspondence and in an environment of "reinventing government," the VBA had created Reader Focused Writing (RFW), a 21 hour satellite training course. Over a 12 month period the VBA had enrolled 700 of its employees in RFW. Platt commissioned our CIRCE team to evaluate the program, which was then "on hold" awaiting evaluation and decisions on direction and growth. The RFW evaluation study took three months to complete (August 1 to November 1) including the submission of the first draft of the report. The evaluation was conducted primarily by Robert Stake, Rita Davis and Stephen Guynn, but drew contributions from several colleagues, particularly Kathryn Sloane, who did the veteran interview portion of the study. An advisory board and an expert panel on writing assisted, and an internal metaevaluation was conducted by Stephen Kemmis. 

After traveling to Washington DC to present the evaluation plan and topical issues to Platt, Lee Sherrill and David Abbott of VBA, we conducted observations at five sites in September and surveyed more broadly the trainees and the veterans in October. Much of the final report was written in the few weeks preceding the 1997 AEA Annual conference. The draft was sent to Platt the evening before flying to those meetings, thirteen weeks after the evaluation contract was signed. The 6x9" book-like report of 173 pages was submitted nine weeks thereafter.

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            Table of Contents

Section Title


Bob Stake
Rita Davis

CIRCE Main page

Revised: November 19, 1998.