Research and Evaluation
The CES Research and Evaluation Department offers consulting services and expertise for schools, coalitions, foundations, private companies, non-profits, municipalities and community-based organizations. We can provide brief consultations or more extensive planning and evaluation work.
We see ourselves as your learning partners — We value learning as the core of our evaluation practice and come to the table as thought partners to help you reflect and learn about your program, organization, or project. We are thoughtful about who is included and how to support those involved. We seek to foster capacity building so that your team develops the structures and skills you need to internalize ongoing evaluative functions and ongoing cycles of improvement.
We prioritize relationships — The better we know our partners’ needs, constraints, priorities, history, and hopes, the better we can direct our inquiry and surface useful insights. We prioritize taking the time to be in relationship with everyone involved at all levels of the evaluation and try to ensure that our values are infused throughout our processes as well as in the outcomes of our work. We strive to “do no harm” and uphold the highest standards of ethics while remaining open to generative challenges and dialogue.
We focus on intended use and users — In our approach, we are utilization-focused; in other words, we design our evaluations by considering how our work will be used by specific users. This can include making real-time adjustments in programs or our practices (or in the work of systems) to respond to formative data and/or to changes in circumstance. As evaluators, we are called on to be flexible and responsive to the needs of our partners and we are committed to conducting work that has real-world value and use. To that end, we strive to ensure strong alignment between research questions, methods, findings, and facilitating use around recommendations.
Social justice and equity are at the core of what we do — We integrate the principles of social justice and equity into our partnership building, evaluation, and design work. We have each individually chosen to work at CES because of its fierce commitment to equity and justice in our community and in our profession. We regularly engage in professional learning about people-centered, culturally responsive learning and evaluation tools, and bring our knowledge into our work with our and implementation partners. We partner with our colleagues on the Joy and Justice team and bring a highly skilled and racially diverse facilitation team to work alongside you in this important, complex, and intersectional work.
Working with CES evaluators as thinking partners, we have identified strengths to build upon and challenges to address. Often missing from public school initiatives, this evaluation has been critical to the understanding of the work we have done thus far, developing clarity on our remaining challenges, and how to approach the work beyond this grant period.
— Manchester CT Public Schools
We have provided evaluation support across the state and nationally to programs, organizations, foundations, businesses, non-profits, and school districts for their work in early childhood, special education, vocational-technical education, community engagement, positive behavioral intervention and supports, social-emotional learning, district-determined measures, professional development, and educator licensure programs. Our work has included technical assistance, interviews and focus groups, curriculum reviews, survey development and administration, data analysis, and outcome evaluations.
We apply a broad range of skills and methodologies — Our team brings a wide range of skills and methodological expertise. Our team’s depth and breadth of experience in a variety of skills and methods allows us to approach each evaluation in a way that is tailored to the specific needs of your project, including:
- Conducting extensive literature reviews and landscape analyses; building evidence-based frameworks
- Working with partners to develop logic models and theories of action as well as helping partners to further their alignment with their theories in action.
- Designing and implementing evaluation processes that will determine program efficacy, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and document review
- Quantitative and qualitative analyses of data generated by evaluation processes
- Participatory and community-based approaches
- Curriculum evaluations and backwards planning
- Equity audits and inquiry cycles
- Social network analysis
- Strategic planning and data-informed program improvement
- Developing data-informed recommendations
- Data presentations and reports that are designed for a broad audience and use visuals as well as texts to explain findings
Examples of Past Projects
Recent Learning Project
- Holyoke Community College
- Manchester Early Learning Center
- Manchester Public Schools
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts
- Smith College
- Springfield Technical Community College
- The Lego Community Fund US
- The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
- The Imagine Institute
Recent Evaluation Work and Assessments
- Community engagement and participatory grantmaking
- After school engineering curricula for students of the global majority
- Middle school narrative-based engineering curricula
- Professional development for early childhood educators
- Special education for students in institutional settings
- Evaluation for Recovery High Schools in Massachusetts
- Virtual reality in secondary education
DESE Safe and Supportive Schools
Since fall of 2017, we have conducted an ongoing evaluation of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)’s Safe and Supportive Schools grantmaking program, which has included site visits, interviews, focus groups, consultation with DESE and the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission around the direction and goals of the program, and an annual summary report to DESE. We have worked with program implementers at DESE to help shape the program and improve its utility for districts.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
The R&E department worked with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as they implemented their Greater Together Community Funds program, which involved giving funding to communities in their service area and supporting them in developing inclusive and participatory processes for awarding the funds to local nonprofits. The R&E department tracked community progress, attended meetings in selected communities, interviewed funding committees in each community, and consulted with the Hartford Foundation about the program’s progress, and provided memos, visualizations, and summary reports to the Hartford Foundation that summarized our learnings.
Smith College and Springfield Technical Community College
As external evaluators, we supported our partners at Smith College and Springfield Technical Community College to conduct formative and summative investigation on the effectiveness of an innovative narrative engineering curriculum for middle school learners. We used a mixed methods approach that included custom assessment instruments, interviews, focus groups, and direct observation in schools. Over the course of the four-year project, we supported the curriculum team by providing ongoing qualitative and quantitative data tailored to respond to the evolving needs of the project.
Research and Evaluation Resources
Here you will find a curated collection of useful and reliable resources of interest to our Research and Evaluation work.
Research and Evaluation Team
Kate Lytton, M.S.
Kate Lytton brings over 20 years of experience in social research, including needs assessment, strategic planning, evaluation design, survey research, and qualitative methods, to her program evaluation work at CES. She has designed and led studies of educator professional development, teacher preparation, child abuse prevention, interagency and community collaborations, and truancy prevention initiatives, among many other education, social service, and community health projects.
Kate brings a passion for participatory approaches that engage stakeholders in identifying and addressing questions that are critical for program improvement and that keep family and child needs at the center. She facilitates collaborative efforts that focus on collecting and using data to understand an educational challenge and to assess program effectiveness and outcomes. She has a BS in mathematics from Williams College and an MS in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Position: Director of Research and Evaluation
Catherine Brooks has extensive experience with leading evaluation projects; designing, administering, and analyzing evaluation plans; conducting participant surveys, telephone interviews, and focus groups; analyzing primary and secondary data, and summarizing and presenting findings to internal and external stakeholders. She brings a strong background in synthesizing data into narratives that explicate lessons learned, with embedded graphs for visual effect. Catherine holds a B.A. in political science from Swarthmore College, and a Master of Public Policy degree from Duke University.
Position: Senior Research Evaluation Specialist
Rebecca Mazur Ph.D.
Rebecca Mazur, PhD is an educational researcher and evaluator, and a former high school librarian. She has designed and conducted studies investigating a variety of educational phenomena including system factors that support or constrain student learning outcomes, teacher support networks, instructional interventions for adolescent learners, and organizational collaboration. Her scholarship has been published in a number of respected peer-reviewed journals including Educational Administration Quarterly, Evaluation and Program Planning, and Educational Management Administration and Leadership.
Position: Senior Evaluation Research Specialist
Sahara Pradhan M.Ed.
Sahara Pradhan is an experienced researcher and evaluator with a focus on qualitative methods and applied social research. She is currently completing a PhD at the College of Education at UMass-Amherst, and just completed a term as managing editor of Comparative Education Review. She is also pursuing a graduate certificate in feminist studies and draws on interdisciplinary theories and methodologies to inform her research.
Position: Research Associate
Dr. Martínez is a research associate at CES. She has a B.F.A. in Visual Arts Education from Manhattanville College, a master’s degree in teaching from Manhattanville College, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership with a graduate certificate in Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. She has worked in K-12, graduate, and adult learning environments. Her work is focused on collaboration, leadership, critical dialogue, and social justice in curriculum development, design, and evaluation. She is a former middle and high school art teacher and administrator. Additionally, she has experience presenting at national conferences, and several publications, and conducted national and international work in English and Spanish.
Position: Research Associate
Louise Ebbeson conducts social science research, primarily in the fields of economic and social development. She holds three degrees, a MSc. in Gender and Development, a M.A. in International Administration and a B.A. in International Studies.Louise Ebbeson conducts social science research, primarily in the fields of economic and social development. She holds three degrees, a MSc. in Gender and Development, a M.A. in International Administration and a B.A. in International Studies.
Position: Research Associate