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¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week: Lessons in Culturally Responsive Evaluation from the Executive Board by Nicole Robinson, Emily Connors, Kate Westaby, Tiffine Cobb, Regina Lowery, and Elise Ahn

Hi! We are Nicole Robinson, Emily Connors, Kate Westaby, Tiffine Cobb, Regina Lowery, and Elise Ahn and we’re board members of ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Inc., the Wisconsin statewide AEA affiliate. As an affiliate and professional development collaborative of Wisconsin-based evaluators, we have three goals:

  • To promote the science of evaluation
  • Provide networking and capacity building opportunities
  • Develop a pipeline of evaluators from underrepresented groups

In the past few years we have focused on field building initiatives centered around building the capacity of evaluators to incorporate culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) and social justice into their practice. We see this goal as paramount to create a thriving field ready to respond to the evaluation needs of a multicultural world. This past year, during our flagship event, the Social Justice & Evaluation conference, is where we promoted this work. We provided CRE 101 sessions in addition to sessions helping evaluators address “isms” during the evaluation process from start to finish, how to assess what the current political climate can impact evaluation and the people we serve, or how social justice can be infused into practices such as results-based accountability.

Lessons Learned:

We recently administered a survey to Wisconsin evaluators and asked them about how much they use CRE. The full results will be shared in the future, but we can share a couple points for discussion. For example, 57% of evaluators who responded to the survey have never reviewed AEA’s statement on cultural competence and 37% had no formal training on cultural competence. The open-ended responses provided a richer picture of evaluation in Wisconsin. While we are still analyzing this data, we wanted to share one quote that captures the complexity of this discussion, linking the absence of CRE to stagnant outcomes among other areas:

“It is all about power and money. The same folks are getting the same grants or contracts and conduct evaluations in the same way. It isn’t rocket science why some of the same chronic outcomes and poor quality of life has not changed. Evaluation and research studies need to be built differently by different people. If we keep producing basically the same monolithic group of academics how will things ever change? This is embedded in the systems and institutions of education, policy, procurement, political, and monetary practices. People who educate the next generation of academics and award contracts, grants, keynotes, or presidential sessions MUST be held accountable for structurally ensuring and requiring diversity in curricular content, human resources, funding priorities, contract/grant awards, keynotes, publications, etc. or things won’t change.”

Stayed tuned for more this week from our Wisconsin evaluators!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week: Lessons in Culturally Responsive Evaluation from the Executive Board by Nicole Robinson, Emily Connors, Kate Westaby, Tiffine Cobb, Regina Lowery, and Elise Ahn”

  1. Hello,

    I really enjoyed your article. It was a great introduction the AEA’s Statement On Cultural Competence In Evaluation, for a new student of program evaluation like myself.

    Culturally Responsive Evaluation is necessary, to not only ensure that programs are inclusive and meeting the needs of participants but to make sure the evaluation process itself is representative and inclusionary of all people. Academia has a responsibly to challenge its what it considers to be inherent and necessary and to make space for a diversity of voices. The same systems of power (be they based on class, race, gender, sex, etc.) are replicated in academic circles through the allocation of important resources. The authors raise an important point, if the same people and institutions are the only one to receive access, funding and opportunities than program evaluation regurgitates the same ideas and practices, the important issues that we intend to affect through evaluation will not see any improvement.

    The American Evaluations Associations Statement On Cultural Competence In Evaluation is an important for evaluators. Inevitably we all work within cultural contexts that are different than our own. Employing the standards set out by the AEA empowers evaluators recognize the cultural specificity of their own frameworks, understand power dynamics, enhance their cultural competence, work towards eliminating bias and choose appropriate evaluation methods.

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