Defining Goals, Objectives, and Activities

The first step in creating good performance measures is to clearly define the program's goal, objectives, and activities. A GOAL is a broad statement of what the program hopes to accomplish or what changes it expects to produce. An OBJECTIVE is a specific and measurable condition that must be attained in order to accomplish a particular program goal. An ACTIVITY is a service or function carried out by the program (i.e., what the program does) that contributes to achieving a specific objective. The lack of clearly defined program goals, objectives, and/or activities makes it difficult to create appropriate performance measures, and therefore, properly assess a program's performance. For example, consider the following examples of goals, objectives, and activities of a program designed to reduce substance abuse among adolescents. The first illustrates inadequately defined goals, objectives, and activities and the second illustrates clearly defined goals, objectives, and activities.

Example 1

GOAL:  Reduce substance use


  • Reduce the number of students abusing drugs


  • Provide anti-drug curriculum

  • Example 2

    GOAL:  Reduce Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) use among program participants


  • Increase drug-related knowledge among program participants
  • Improve ability to resist negative peer pressure among program participants
  • Increase program participants' social skills


  • Deliver a drug use prevention education curriculum to program participants
  • Provide life skills training designed to increase refusal and resistance skills
  • Institute role playing exercises which exemplify positive coping and stress management skills