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Center for Educational Research and Evaluation


A retrospective trip through 50 years from graduate school to work in evaluation is the foundation of this article. It affords a way of looking at how the training of evaluators and what they do in conducting evaluations have changed, how personal experiences shaped perceptions about a field, and developments that transformed evaluation into the field that it is now. The author’s graduate program is examined for its strengths, the guidance it provided him with, weaknesses, and what was missing and needed. His long-term involvement in many projects reflects both the evolution of evaluation practice and knowledge growth. A historical view is valuable for understanding the progress that has been made and, at the same time and surprisingly, shows that issues encountered many years ago are in ways and to a degree still pertinent and remain with us. This is especially true in regard to the teaching of a new generation that will carry evaluation forward. The past is indeed a backdrop for the future and the seeds of current concerns were evident a long time ago. Conclusions drawn from the five decades lead to what we might see as evaluation moves fully into the 21st century. The ultimate goal is to have evaluators individually and as a collective always question who we are and the premises that underlie our actions.