New Matrix and Resources Describe Evaluation Practices That Support Equity

Posted December 15, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A multicultural group of young people sit and stand around a table, working on a project. They smile confidently at the camera.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Learn More About How to Apply Equi­ty in Evaluation

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