Designing a SMARTER Program

My friend has called me for advice about designing a program that will address what he perceives as a lack of family involvement in children’s academic life. I have decided to write down and share an outline for him to consider so his program will be structured, effective, easily replicated and evaluated.
The first step for my friend is to determine the gap in services/resources. Some tips to determine the gap are:

• identify the people/clients that are involved;
• gather statistics/information about other programs (schools around the area);
• determine what the program will attempt to address or change with its creation; and
• make sure this problem can be addressed over a reasonable period of time (results will not occur overnight).

Once my friend has identified the gap in services for a targeted population, he can then start to design a program that will address the gap. He will want to make sure the program design will be effective by taking into consideration all of the variables involved with a successful program; he can utilize the acronym “S.M.A.R.T.E.R.” to assist him with a framework of his program design.

• “S” – Make sure he has a specific objective. Any program creator will have difficulties determining if he/she is reaching the program goals if the objectives are not concrete and observable. Additionally, it makes it easier for others to duplicate the program if the objectives are clear and specific.

• “M” – The program must be measurable to prove the program is achieving the objective(s), it will assist the designer to make necessary improvements; and it can be used to gain additional funding from his/her stakeholders.

• “A” – The goals of the program need to be acceptable to not only the designer, but by for the clients he/she is looking to assist and the community. A program involving children academics will need to be considered reasonable for the children, parents and the community or it will most likely fail because of non-support.

• “R”/ “T”- The program should have a realistic timeframe. In this case, my friend should examine the problem and the population he is addressing to determine a timeframe that is feasible for the targeted population and the staff presenting the program.

• “E” – The program should be flexible so it will be able to extend. A successful program will extend from what it is, as needs and social factors evolve so will a successful program.

• “R” – The program should be rewarding. The program creator, the people receiving the assistance/resources from the program, and the stakeholders should be able to see the benefits of the program. Benefits create additional motivation by staff, more involvement in the program from the targeted population because it is proven to be beneficial to those enrolled in the program, and worth the time and money the stakeholders are investing in the program.

Furthermore, I would tell my friend to look a bit closer at the program design by examining the system plan. There are four components in the system plan that wil assist in having a successful program.

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