New Matrix and Resources Describe Evaluation Practices That Support Equity
A new interactive tool can help funders and organizations hone their evaluation practices to better support racial equity. The tool — developed by Strategic Learning Partners for Innovation with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and The Colorado Trust — defines key principles of evaluation that advance equity. It describes how these standards translate into approaches that prioritize meaningful partnerships between evaluators and communities.
Making an Informed Choice About Evaluation Methods
“Funders and practitioners and the community members and young people they serve all benefit from more equitable evaluation practices that reflect the cultural backgrounds of participants — approaches that engage them as true partners and agents in the process of learning what works,” says Casey Senior Research Associate Jeffrey Poirier. “This resource clarifies what equity in evaluation entails and helps groups make an informed choice about the approach that’s most relevant to their efforts.”
How Seven Evaluation Approaches Translate into Practice
The matrix describes how seven distinct philosophies and approaches translate into practice:
- Culturally competent evaluation. This approach requires that evaluators acknowledge their own biases, build cross-cultural understanding and recognize issues of race and decision-making authority in their work and in the context of the evaluation.
- Culturally responsive evaluation. This approach focuses on incorporating culture, life experience and context in evaluation through inclusivity. Community members and evaluators with direct experience are engaged as partners in all phases of evaluation.
- Culturally responsive and equitable evaluation. By blending multiple strategies, this approach attempts to provide evaluators with practical guidance for building diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of evaluation.
- Culturally responsive Indigenous evaluation. Used when serving Indigenous communities, this type of evaluation focuses on sovereignty and self-determination. It also recognizes the importance of one’s connection to place and views one’s story as a rich and legitimate data source.
- Empowerment evaluation. Designed to provide those with a direct stake in program success with the tools and knowledge to attain their goals, this approach fosters self-determination and sustainability. It provides structured guidance to communities based on their theory of action or practice, using evaluation and monitoring tools the community can continue to use on their own.
- Equity-focused evaluations. This evidence-based approach and philosophy puts affected groups at the center of the evaluation and is honest about the limitations of evaluation efforts. In equity-focused evaluations, evaluators refrain from making one-way statements of certainty that may not accurately reflect the context of the people being served.
- Transformative evaluation. Transformative evaluation focuses on action, with the goal of supporting people in transforming the status quo.
The matrix provides users with a brief history of the practice as well as the contributions of each. Users can familiarize themselves with the principles of equity and the corresponding cultural consideration that underlies the approaches.
For users who are unfamiliar with equity-focused evaluation, the website offers a set of questions and tools that help determine the best approach given the focus and needs of the project.