Redefining Student Academic Success During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic led to dramatic shifts in the way that most, if not all, educational institutions in the nation operate. The shift to distance learning sent a shock wave through the field of education, making even more visible how our current system is failing many of our students, particularly students of color, and their families. It led educational institutions to pause conventional activities built on long-held (and often harmful) assumptions, such as equating “seat time” with learning and an over-reliance on the results of Continue reading →

What does evaluation mean in times of COVID-19?

By: Juan Carlos Piña In response to the rising worldwide spread of COVID-19, on March 11, 2021 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic. WHO’s announcement of the imminent threat that COVID-19 presented for the nation’s public health led to the abrupt closures of offices, workplaces, and schools, among other locations. The range of site closures where people conduct business, work, learn, and play changed life and human interaction as we know it. There has been a slew of hardships experienced by families, Continue reading →

SPR Year in Review 2020

As we turn the corner on 2020, we would like to express deep gratitude to all of our partners, including the public agencies, community-based organizations, and foundations that have worked tirelessly to respond to the complexities of this year. So many of us have had to quickly pivot and learn new ways of working and being of service. The pandemic and the shelter-in-place order only deepened persistent inequities in health, employment, and education, issues that we have collectively been working on for decades. The ongoing Continue reading →

Evaluation’s Role in Developing a More Robust Housing Safety Net

by Maureen Sarver SPR’s newest research project will evaluate the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration along with Abt Associates, the Urban Institute, and others. Launched in 1994, the program is the federal government’s primary housing resource for families with very low income, elderly individuals, and people with disabilities. This evaluation is timely, as President-Elect, Joe Biden plans to universalize this program as a key strategy in reducing child poverty and narrowing racial opportunity gaps. In order to succeed, Continue reading →

Announcement of New Hire, Dr. Iris Daruwala

We are pleased to announce the recent hiring of Dr. Iris Daruwala to the position of Senior Associate in our Education division. Dr. Daruwala is a Senior Associate with expertise in education policy, cross-sector collaboration, and organizational sociology. Her research examines the organizational sustainability of education reforms, the role of philanthropy in shaping education policy, and the relationship between education policies and social stratification. Prior to joining SPR, she designed and led mixed methods impact evaluations and implementation studies at the Consortium for Policy Research Continue reading →

Addressing the Eviction & Displacement Crisis through Photovoice

by Laura Pryor and Savannah Rae  As the evaluators for an anti-eviction and displacement initiative in Oakland, Social Policy Research Associates (SPR) and program partners recognized the importance of community participation in the evaluation process. The program’s anti-eviction and displacement services include legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services for community members experiencing a housing crisis. Program clients therefore have unique expertise into the effectiveness of services for themselves and their communities. Too often, evaluators and decision makers do not share the same frame Continue reading →

Harnessing the Power of Zoom to Conduct Virtual Simultaneous Interpretation for Cross-Lingual Focus Groups

by Juan Carlos Piña SPR’s Philanthropy, Equity, and Youth (PEY) division is excited to announce that our project team will demonstrate at this year’s AEA’s 2020 conference on October 28 at 9:00AM on how to harness the power of online video conferencing platforms like Zoom to facilitate virtual focus groups among cross-lingual participants using simultaneous interpretation. Make sure to check out our toolkit that includes guiding principles of language justice as well as best practices for simultaneous interpretation. Centering equity in our work: Over the Continue reading →

Amidst Challenges, Some Bright Spots in Distance Learning

By: Jennifer Hogg and Emily McCaffrey As students head back to school this fall, nearly two-thirds (62%) are doing so entirely virtually, while another 19% will attend some form of hybrid schooling.[i] Even for districts that planned to start the year in-person, several have quickly reverted to virtual or hybrid learning in response to rising COVID-19 cases or changing preferences in their schools or communities. Therefore, the vast majority of school and district leaders continue to face difficult decisions about the ways in which teachers, Continue reading →

Creating Stability for Bay Area Families: How Youth-serving Organizations Adopted a Whole Family Approach during COVID-19

By: Verenice Chavoya and Heather Lewis-Charp As the Bay Area began to shelter-in-place on March 17, 2020, community and school-based organizations in Oakland and San Francisco (like organizations across the country) scrambled to reinvent the way that they do their work. They returned to the ‘drawing board’ so that they could meet the immediate needs of the Bay Area community. As the evaluation partners of Oakland Fund for Children and Youth and the San Francisco Beacon Community Schools, our team witnessed the ways that community Continue reading →

SPR stands with those fighting for justice

The last few months have been extraordinarily challenging times for our community, our country, and the world. First, we confronted an entirely new challenge, as a pandemic threatened the health and safety of many, and caused tremendous upheaval in how we live, work, and interact with each other. Sadly, in the last several days, a much older and more familiar threat has once again come front and center, as racial oppression and police brutality have been on display in highly visible ways. That nearly all Continue reading →