Foundations for Excellence

What Is an Outcome and an Expected Outcome?

Nuts and Bolts IconIf a goal tells you where you’re headed, an outcome tells you the result of your actions. Very simply, outcomes are the results achieved, like making progress toward the achievement of a school readiness goal.

The Head Start Grant Application Instructions ask programs to forecast expected outcomes in their initial baseline application. For example, the family engagement outcomes in the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework include expected outcomes. Programs may create a program-wide goal of improving the financial stability of their families (e.g., PFCE Expected Outcome: Family Well-being), but they may have several objectives to support this goal. In the end, what they would expect to see is an outcome of improved financial stability for the majority of their families.

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Outcomes are actual results. Expected outcomes are forecasted results.

Think of expected outcomes as your program’s hoped-for results for children, families, and the community. Frame your outcomes to answer this question: "What results do we want?"

Expected outcomes relate directly to program goals and objectives. What do you expect to achieve as a result of meeting your objectives? For example, if an agency sets a program goal of developing and maintaining an exemplary system of program governance, a related objective may be that the management team provides the governing body/Tribal Council with accurate fiscal information on a monthly basis. The expected outcome that could arise from this goal and objective might be "governing body/Tribal Council members fully understand and effectively use all fiscal information on which to make sound programmatic decisions."

Just as one goal might have several objectives, it is important to identify all the expected outcomes you hope to see for a particular goal and set of objectives. By implementing and monitoring your action plan, you will be able to determine whether you are meeting your objectives and making progress towards achieving your outcomes.