WestEd’s Approach to Research & Evaluation
The General Knowledge Base
WestEd staff understand and contribute to the knowledge base in education and related social sciences.
Understanding What’s Known
- Guided by the needs of the field, we review and synthesize research, suggesting implications for policy and practice, and identifying research gaps.
- Responding to calls for evidence-based decision-making, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we help states and districts understand and apply evidence standards.
Adding to the Knowledge Base
- descriptive studies about what’s happening.
- impact studies that use rigorous research designs to answer questions about what works.
- R&D cycles of studies that pilot, test, refine, and scale products and services.
Learning in Context
WestEd helps people apply knowledge and conduct research in their particular context.
We conduct independent, third-party evaluations of implementation and outcomes, using methods that are appropriate to the local context.
We are increasingly asked to serve as an evaluation partner, working alongside districts, service agencies, or others, from the early stages of project design building local models, to providing ongoing formative feedback for mid-course corrections, and tracking outcomes.
Guiding Learning Networks
Responding to the desire of organizations to learn with and from each other — whether as a set of schools or as a complex, collective impact network of social service and education agencies — we facilitate learning networks. We help members define shared goals, establish measurement systems, collect and review data, and conduct local inquiry cycles.
The exchange of information between general knowledge and local settings is central to theory building and to improved practice.