CEMSE does a wide range of evaluation work in school and out-of-school settings for learners of all ages.
CEMSE’s evaluation work is not bound to a single approach to evaluation or a confined set of data sources. Rather, we take on a wide range of evaluation roles using different designs and methodologies. Our approach to, and interest in evaluation is based on the following set of principles that guide decisions about evaluation design:
Evaluation must be grounded in a commitment to conducting rigorous studies of significant questions.
Residing in both the qualitative and quantitative families of approaches to data collection, rigorous studies are those that use valid, reliable, and systematic data collection methods. Those methods are of little use, however, if the questions they seek to answer are of little or no consequence to the stakeholder(s) or the field. Therefore, meaningful evaluation questions are informed by client and stakeholder needs and interests and thus contribute to understandings about a program within a local context. Where appropriate to the program and design, evaluation questions also respond to broader concerns in the field.
Evaluation designs must provide useful and practical information to support improved practice.
Although evaluation can contribute to the development of theory, unless it provides information that is applicable and important to the clients, it has failed in its major purpose. Historically, evaluators have lamented the fact that their findings, whether part of formative or summative evaluation efforts, are often not used by the immediate or any extended audience of stakeholders. CEMSE is committed to evaluation designs that result in practical, useful findings and to developing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders that increase the likelihood that those findings will be utilized.
Evaluation designs must appropriately match the contexts and conditions of the project and be sensitive to the needs and interests of the stakeholder(s).
Evaluation designs, in isolation, have no inherent merit. The value in an evaluation design comes from the extent to which it is well matched to the circumstances of the project and the needs of project leaders. Only when those needs are defined and circumstances accounted for, can evaluators generate a useful, appropriate evaluation design.