An Analysis of Theories of Change in USAID Solicitations for Education Programs in Crisis and Conflict Affected Environments
A key task for USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (ECCN) is to develop and disseminate guidance and training related to the use of theories of change in education programs designed for crisis and conflict-affected environments. To begin this process, ECCN researchers sought to establish a baseline of the types of theories of change used in USAID solicitations in the early years and those immediately pre-dating the agency's Education Strategy.
Our analysis is based on an examination of 18 USAID solicitation documents related to increasing equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments, issued between 2007 and 2014. We focused on solicitation documents because they best represent USAID's thinking around program design, and because we could reliably compare the documents to one another given that they serve the same purpose and have similar structures and content. We acquired the documents from USAID and through an open search of the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Six of the 18 documents (33 percent) referenced or included a theory of change or development hypothesis. Of the six solicitation documents explicitly referencing theory of change, four provided the theory of change and two requested it from the implementing partner in the application. None of the solicitation documents provided any guidance on how a theory of change should then be measured and/or evaluated (it is assumed this was provided in later PMEPs, but exploring these was beyond the scope of this analysis).