Foundations for Excellence

Appendix C: Glossary of Program Planning Terms

Book/Definition IconTerms and Definitions

Action Plan: A defined set of steps that outline what a program will do to meet its goals and objectives; a description of the steps, services, and other actions needed to accomplish goal(s). An action plan often includes measures of progress to help a program know what difference it is making; it includes what will be done, who is responsible, and the timeline for completion.

Action Steps: Individual steps that outline what a program will do to accomplish its goals and objectives. 

Baseline Data: An initial collection of information that can be used for comparative purposes. Baseline data can be used as a starting point to understand any changes that happen over time.

Challenge: Information describing obstacles to achieving program goals and objectives. When forecasting an anticipated barrier to achieving the goals and objectives, “expected challenge” is used. Typically identified in the baseline application. 

Data: Facts or information used to calculate, analyze, plan, or report something.

Effect: “Measures of effect” determine changes in knowledge, attitude, or behavior as a result of the activity. They track whether a program’s activities have made a difference.

Effort: “Measures of effort” count what and how much a program provides. They describe whether and to what extent activities were carried out as planned.

Evidence: Facts, information, documentation, or examples given to support an assertion. 

Goals: Broad, aspirational statements that describe what the program seeks to accomplish. In Head Start, program goals may include the provision of educational, health, nutritional, and family and community engagement program services.

Impact: The influence or effect. This term is often used to signify the findings from an experimental or quasi-experimental research study. Impact refers to how the program, children, families, and/or community changed over the five-year project period as a result of what the program did.

Objectives: Activities to be completed to achieve a goal. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART). They are achievable in the short-term.

Outcome: Something that happened as a result of an activity or a process; the actual results achieved each year. When referencing a result that is hoped to happen in the future, the term “expected outcome” is used. Typically identified in the baseline application.

Progress: Forward movement toward the achievement of goals, objectives, and expected outcomes.

School Readiness Goals: The expectations of children’s status and progress across domains of Language and Literacy, Cognition, Approaches to Learning, Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development, and Social and Emotional Development that will improve their readiness for kindergarten.

Strategic Long-Term Goals: Look to the future and reflect what a program values and wants to accomplish. Strategic long-term goals are profound and require a significant amount of time to achieve.

Topic:Program Planning

Resource Type: Article

National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations

Last Updated: February 15, 2019