Education

SPR has over 20 years of experience conducting mixed-methods education evaluations ranging from early childhood to early college for nonprofit and public sector clients. We pride ourselves in our long-standing commitment to equity in education, and bring an equity lens to every stage of our work. In addition to traditional evaluation services, we act as critical thought partners for our clients to help them utilize evaluation in order to advance their own continuous improvement and effectiveness.

Our education division aims to work in thought partnership with funders, policy makers, and education leaders to lift up learnings through rigorous research methods tailored to local and state contexts.

Project Spotlight: Evaluation of TNTP and Solution Tree in Washoe County School District

Evaluation of TNTP and Solution Tree in Washoe County School District

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and Solution Tree are two research-based education vendors hired by Washoe County School District (WCSD) to support schools that have been designated in need of improvement. Over the course of the 2019-2020 school year, these vendors worked with 25 schools to improve school leadership practices, instruction, and student achievement. In fall 2019, WCSD commissioned SPR to conduct a study to better understand the implementation (pre-COVID-19) and impact of these vendors. Read this report to learn more about the findings from this study.

Read it here!

Focus Areas

Strategic grantmaking in education

 

SPR’s Education Division partners with funders to assess emerging and established grantmaking and programmatic strategies as initiatives unfold. As learning and thought partners, we bring an analytic and culturally-responsive lens to initiatives grounded in education equity, whole child supports, social emotional learning, and the cradle to career systems changes. We leverage our expertise in developmental and formative evaluation to provide rapid-cycle feedback and engage funders in meaning making of real-time data to inform continuous learning and iterative strategy improvements.

Featured projects:

  • Theory of Change Development for the Sobrato Family Foundation’s English Learner Advocacy Portfolio
  • Technical Assistance for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s P-16 Initiative
  • Formative Evaluation of the Bush Foundation’s Individualized Learning Intermediary Investments

K-12 school improvement

 

We work with local, regional, and state education agencies, as well as the Federal Department of Education, to evaluate new school models and turnaround efforts in K-12 schools. We frequently employ mixed-methods approaches—including randomized control and quasi-experimental designs—to understand whether, how, and for whom these initiatives improve learning experiences and outcomes. These evaluations have enabled us to understand the intricate nature of school systems that serve students representing a variety of backgrounds and the decision-making structures that shape their policies.

Featured projects:

Student-Centered Learning

 

The Education Division partners with funders and national non-profit organizations to evaluate initiatives and programs that promote student-centered learning, an umbrella term for approaches to teaching and learning that engage students as agents of their own learning and tailor learning opportunities to each student’s unique identities, culture, strengths, needs, and interests. Our work in this area ranges from formative, developmental evaluations to summative outcomes studies.

Featured projects:

School and community networks

 

We bring specialized expertise in network improvement science and experience evaluating networks and cross-sector collaborations to achieve impact in education, health, and economic security for students and their families. Our work in this area leverages social network analysis to assess network strength and development, as well as progress toward long-term, local and systems change outcomes.

Featured projects:

Whole child development

 

SPR’s education team works with our clients to evaluate strategies that embrace the whole learner in and out of school. We bring experience evaluating multi-sector models that support the basic needs of children and their families, as well as integrated social, emotional, and academic learning approaches that leverage trauma-informed practices and emphasize holistic child development.

Featured projects:

College and career readiness

 

SPR is a nationally recognized expert on career pathways, leveraging the combined expertise of its Education and Workforce and Human Services Divisions to evaluate and provide technical assistance on career pathway development in high schools and community colleges. Through experimental and implementation studies, the Education Division supports initiatives focused on college preparation, persistence, and completion, particularly for least-well served populations.

Featured projects:

Early learning and extended learning opportunities

 

SPR helps clients understand critical data to inform how early learning and extended learning programs can better meet the needs of children and their families across learning environments and across cultures. In collaboration with SPR’s Philanthropy, Equity & Youth Division, we provide evaluation and technical assistance services to both public and private clients that inform quality improvement and strengthen service delivery systems.

Featured projects:

Projects by Client Type

State and Local Government

 

School Districts and County Offices of Education

Other Public Agencies

Federal Government

 

Non-Profit and Philanthropic Organizations

 

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Evaluation of Local Improvement Networks & Enabling Environments
    • Road Map Project P-16 Case Study
    • Technical Assistance to Optimize Our Approach to Internal Evaluation for the P-16 Initiative
  • The Bush Foundation
  • Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO): Innovation Lab Network Case Studies
  • Google for Education: Evaluation of Google’s Talent Academy
  • Institute for Educational Leadership: Evaluation of the National High School Alliance
  • Institute for Higher Education Policy: Evaluation of the Pathways to College Network
  • The James Irvine Foundation: Evaluation of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education
  • Marin Community Foundation: Evaluation of EXCEL: Environmental Leadership Program
  • NALEO Educational Fund: Educational Leadership Initiative consultation
  • The Orfalea Foundation: Evaluation of the Resilience, Education, Adventure, and Community (REACH) Program
  • San José Public Library Foundation: Evaluation of San José Learns 2.0 and 3.0
  • The Spencer Foundation & The Carnegie Corporation: From Tolerance to Understanding: A Study of Inter-Group Relations
  • The Sobrato Family Foundation
    • English Learner Advocacy Theory of Change & Logic Model Development
    • Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) Case Studies
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation & Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Evaluation of the California Education Policy Fund (CEPF)
  • Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (now Trellis Company Foundation): Evaluation of the Public Benefit Grant Program

Community Colleges and Universities

 

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education: Evaluation of ATLAS Communities School Reform Model
  • University of Kentucky’s Center for Innovation in Education: Evaluation of the Assessment for Learning Project (ALP)
  • University of Maryland, College Park: Evaluation of Maryland Sports Data Analytics Camps for Youth
  • Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE): Case Study of Student-Centered Learning at City Arts and Technology (CAT)

For more on our work with Community Colleges, visit the Community Colleges section on our Workforce Development page.

For more information, or to discuss potential projects, please contact:

Heather Lewis-Charp

Heather Lewis-Charp

Principal and Director of Philanthropy, Equity, and Youth Division

E-mail