I’m Tamara Young, an associate professor in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis at North Carolina State University. I teach evaluation theory and practice. Today, I’m going to discuss a project that I am developing to help students and me be more conscientious about addressing social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (SJEDI) in evaluation with special attention to racial equity.
The national discussion on anti-racism has led me to question to what extent I’ve become complacent with my knowledge, dispositions, and practices related to racial equity in evaluation theory and practice. I’ve pondered to what extent evaluators may weaken, omit, or disregard strategies that make them consistently and thoughtfully consider SJEDI issues, especially racial equity. As a result, I’ve begun to create a SJEDI checklist for students and myself which can be modified to fit different subject matter. The checklist promotes critical reflection, discussion, and actions at different stages of an evaluation.
Certainly, checklists are not new to evaluators; they are a key tool for organization, quality, and efficiency. The Evaluation Center even has The Evaluation Checklist Project to “advance excellence in evaluation,” which includes checklists for: capacity building, logic models, contracts, deliberative democratic evaluation, and technology in schools, to name a few.
The questions or prompts in a SJEDI checklist should relate to the subject area (e.g., health, higher education, and diversity training), be informed by AEA’s Guiding Principle: Common Good and Equity, reflect the literature on SJEDI (while acknowledging that some of the literature is written or influenced by those with privilege and power), incorporate review by critical friends, and be dynamic.
Here are examples of racial equity questions:
- When was the last time evaluation team members undertook an implicit bias audit or reflection?
- What are evaluation team members’ level of knowledge of racial equity related to the subject area?
- Do internal or external meta-evaluations address how the evaluation process attended to racial equity?
- Do racial equity principles inform the composition and leadership of the evaluation team?
Frameworks and Methods
- Are the biases and assumptions in the frameworks and methods explicitly acknowledged?
- To what extent are different stakeholder perspectives included in the evaluation?
- Are the voices of oppressed communities captured in the evaluation?
- Are the resources (e.g., funding, partnerships, and training) for a new racial equity reform sufficient and reflect a long-term commitment?
- What strategies are in place to support staff applying what is learned from racial equity training?
- Are there incentives to promote racial equity?
- To what extent is racial equity addressed in procedures, policies, and practices, including everyday decisions?
- Has recruitment, participation, and retention been disaggregated by racial/ethnic groups?
- Is the organization focusing on outputs or outcomes of racial equity initiatives?
- Is there evidence of impact on racial equity?
- Have outcomes been disaggregated by racial/ethnic subpopulations?
- Are there intentional or unintentional side effects that counteract racial equity in the short or long-term?
- Are the racial equity changes sought or achieved superficial or do they involve or reflect changes in longstanding beliefs, assumptions, values, guiding principles, and norms?
To develop a SJEDI checklist with a racial equity focus, consider:
Existing evaluation approaches
- How to Design and Manage Equity-Focused Evaluations
- Practical Strategies for Culturally Competent Evaluation
- Equitable Evaluation
Discipline-specific conversations about racial equity
- Higher Education: Envisioning Higher Education as Antiracist and Anti-Racism in Higher Education: A Model for Change
- Public Health: Racism: Science & Tools for the Public Health Professional
- Medical Education: Anti-Racism and Race Literacy: A Primer and Toolkit for Medical Educators
- Government: Promising Practices in Government to Advance Racial Equity
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