Toward Racial-Equity: A SJEDI Checklist by Tamara Young

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.

Lessons Learned:

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:

Evaluators

  • 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?

Evaluation Questions

  • 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?

Outcomes

  • 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?

Rad Resources:

To develop a SJEDI checklist with a racial equity focus, consider:

Existing evaluation approaches

Discipline-specific conversations about racial equity

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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1 thought on “Toward Racial-Equity: A SJEDI Checklist by Tamara Young”

  1. Hi Tamara,
    My name is Nelie Meedin, I am currently taking a Queens University course on Program Evaluation. I didn’t think that it would be something that I would engage in my current professional context but slowly learning that knowing how to evaluate a program is important as we are all personally connected and engaged in programs and organizations that impact our lives.

    I appreciate the accessibility and forward-thinking to put in place a Racial-Equity Checklist for evaluators. Just as you stated there are a lot of familiar checklists, but your SJEDI Checklist really stood out to me. Teaching in multicultural and diverse communities there can be a bias or racial inequality during a program or bias through a stakeholders’ dominant privilege of power. I believe that evaluators need to be aware of the bias and racial diversity that may be a part of a community or program.

    Following your checklist, it can ensure the Program Evaluation Standards can be upheld. It is difficult with many opinions and dominant voices that can affect an evaluation. It is so helpful to have a breakdown of the questions and framework while setting up the checklist to keep the evaluator aligned to the standard of Propriety. Racial equity is something that many organizations and programs seem to have as a focus in the current state of society. Having an evaluator that stays neutral while asking these questions and engaging participants in the discussion to have clarity, equity and fairness can support a program and grow to attain the program goals.

    Thank you for sharing your checklist and looking forward to using it in the future in my own practice to ensure that I am providing my students with a curriculum that ensures Racial – Equity.

    Warm regards,

    Nelie

    Reference:
    Yarbrough, D. B., Shulha, L. M., Hopson, R. K., and Caruthers, F. A. (2011). The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Leave a Reply to Nelie Meedin Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.