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Authority in evaluation is contingent on myriad reciprocal and overlapping considerations, some obvious and some subtle, as well as on starkly different perspectives as to what constitutes evaluation as a professional practice.

Within the Professional Community

Broad distinctions between stakeholder-oriented and expert-oriented evaluation approaches have implications for authority. Expert-oriented evaluation approaches invest authority in a professional evaluator (e.g., Stufflebeam's context-input-process-product, or CIPP, model), a connoisseur (i.e., Eisner's connoisseurship approach), or a group of professionals or technical experts (e.g., evaluation or accreditation teams, advisory and blue-ribbon panels). In contrast, stakeholder-oriented approaches may confer authority on program personnel, participants, and relevant others or may involve shared authority. Less explicitly, a stakeholder-oriented evaluator may retain authority as well as closely attend to stakeholder aims, priorities, and criteria.

An important consideration in ...

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