The start of a new school year means that it’s time for baseline M&E testing!
GirlSportWorks has a Monitoring and Evaluation process that we use to evaluate our impact and continuously improve our program. It consists of physical testing, student surveys, and end-of-year interviews with students, parents, and school administrators. We conduct baseline M&E tests at the start of the school year and endline tests at the close of the year, so we can track what changes happen over time.
Adrie and I ran the 2018 endline testing in November and December. It may seem odd that we started with endline testing, but it’s because Peruvian and American school schedules are on different cycles. In the US, schools start in the fall and end in the spring, while in Peru the school schedule follows the calendar year. This means that when Adrie and I graduated from college in May and started as project managers in July, we were starting halfway through the Peruvian school year. We wrapped up the 2018 school year, did M&E endline testing, enjoyed Peruvian summer holiday, and came back to Cusco for the start of the 2019 school year. So now, over halfway through our time in Cusco, we are conducting our first baseline M&E tests.
The baseline M&E tests are identical to the endline (with the exception of not including interviews), so I’ve been surprised to find that the process of running baseline M&E actually does feel very different than the endline testing. While endline testing is all about measuring what has been achieved, baseline testing is all about potential. We have classes full of new girls who have never run a timed kilometer before or have never done a pushup before last month. They’re full of excitement and energy, and I know they’ll grow faster and stronger over the course of the year and see their results increase. For me, that makes this baseline testing bittersweet. I won’t be the one running those endline tests; the next project managers will be.
When I first accepted my position at GirlSportWorks, a year seemed like a long time to be living in a different country. Now that it’s April, the days are flying by far too fast. It has been amazing to work with our girls because they grow and learn so quickly—we literally get to see them grow before our eyes. It’s been exciting and rewarding to get to be a part of their lives, and it’s sad to think about the few months we have left together. While it’s tough to think about the fact that I won’t be the one cheering them on and getting to see how they’ve improved during endline M&E testing at the end of the year, I know the next project managers will be just as proud of them as I am.