Rapid-cycle program evaluation is an assessment of incremental program changes real-time during launch and operational decisions and changes are made real-time. Rapid-cycle evaluation employs rigorous, scientific research methods to quickly assess program effectiveness by leveraging on existing data allowing for speedy, continuous improvement in determining if operational changes improve program outcomes.

Rapid-cycle does not examine the overall impact of a program, but rather incremental outcomes which help avoid investments in changes that are unlikely to produce the desired results.