Sound decisions are directly related to the appropriateness of the data used to make them. Thus, data must meet three critical characteristics:

  • Relevant: Directly related to the questions (overarching and specific) that must be answered
  • Reliable: Rigorously measured, trustworthy, and consistent over time
  • Valid: True indicators of the results we want to measure; measure what we should be measuring

Recognizing and ensuring these characteristics is essential, but it is not necessarily easy. In evaluations or other investigations of any kind, pieces of information flow in many directions. How can you separate the relevant, reliable, and valid from the irrelevant, misperceived, misinterpreted, or inappropriate indicators ...

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