Review & Synthesize Research
Do you want to know what the research says about a topic? WestEd can serve as a partner in locating, assessing, and synthesizing available research. We can help formulate questions, locate relevant research, identify inclusion criteria for which research studies to include, conduct reviews, and identify recommendations that emanate from synthesized findings.
Ask A REL is a free service of the Regional Educational Laboratories that provides research abstracts and referrals in response to requestors’ questions.
This [annotated research summary] is perfect! Thank you so much! This will provide the perfect background for our discussion. .... I want us to have the best [English learner] reclassification system in the country and this is such a critical piece of the puzzle.Legislative staff member
Understand and Apply Evidence Standards
Responding to calls for evidence-based decision-making, WestEd offers tools and learning opportunities — including interactive workshops, ongoing technical assistance, and customized coaching — through our Evidence-Based Improvement guide.
WestEd conducts reviews of the quality of curricula, school environments, or assessments, using standards appropriate to the content, the client, and the context.
As the Arizona Department of Education Director for Move On When Reading, my work was directly impacted by the ESSA expectations, as schools are now statutorily required to have evidence-based core reading programs for their K–3 students in Arizona.…Thankfully, your amazing team...led a two-day training on ESSA evidence levels [that] not only clearly defined the levels for our group, it also walked us through a clear and systematic process for evaluating programs for their level of evidence....With your guidance, we can now offer more meaningful support to thousands of teachers across Arizona.Sean Ross, Director, Move On When Reading, Arizona Department of Education
Conduct Descriptive Studies
Are you interested in better understanding what’s happening around a topic of interest? For example, how are your students achieving in school? What are the achievement trends over time? Are achievement gaps closing or widening?
WestEd conducts descriptive studies — including quantitative analyses and case studies — to provide educators with a detailed analysis of current conditions that can be used as an important foundation for determining how best to address a problem.
When we first heard about this project, we were hopeful that it would allow us as a community to capture the struggles our clients and their families face and tell a story not easily told. ... WestEd staff gently and skillfully crafted a significant portion of that story for us....We are thankful for our partnership and each of the members on your team.Andé Peña, Program Director, La Familia Counseling Services
Conduct Impact Studies
To answer key questions about what works, WestEd conducts impact studies that use rigorous research designs, including randomized controlled trials — the “gold standard” research design for establishing cause and effect.
Our impact studies range from large, school-based trials to more rapid, small-scale studies. We use state-of-the-art techniques and aim to make practical contributions to professional practice in education and other fields, as well as to advance theoretical understanding of what works and how.
In partnership with the No Bully trainers and OUSD violence prevention and behavioral health staff, WestEd has worked to ensure high quality implementation and evaluation of No Bully Solution Teams in a range of highly diverse elementary schools so that we can better understand and assess impact.
Conduct R&D Cycles of Studies
WestEd partners with developers and with education agencies to conduct research & development (R&D) cycles of studies that pilot, test, refine, and scale products and services.
WestEd brings unique expertise in cognitive and learning sciences, technology, and classroom teaching experience to our partnerships. We can design and execute research studies that provide valuable feedback during the development cycle and meet funder requirements for evidence of usability, feasibility, fidelity of implementation, and promise.
Conduct Independent Evaluations
Getting any new program or intervention underway takes significant time, energy, and financial resources. So, it’s important to know if your efforts are paying off, whether the program is being well-implemented, and ultimately if it is effective in meeting intended outcomes. A third-party or external evaluator can help answer these questions and other questions of interest.
WestEd conducts independent, third-party evaluations of implementation and outcomes, using methods — summative, formative, or mixed — that are appropriate to the local context. Armed with information from our evaluations, you will be better equipped to make key decisions about program enhancement, expansion, and sustainability.
One of [WestEd’s] greatest strengths was their...desire to understand and become well-informed of our grant initiatives and our district as a whole. Because of this, the evaluation reflected the true work...happening in our schools. We could trust the results and be confident in relaying the information to stakeholders....A few key findings in the final evaluation reports have become actionable items that we have already made adjustments, some significant, in practices in high impact areas across our district.Executive Director of Human Resources, Washoe County School District (Nevada)
Serve as an Evaluation Partner
WestEd is increasingly asked to serve as an evaluation partner, working alongside districts, service agencies, or others, helping to build the in-house capacity to conduct research and evaluation.
WestEd evaluators partner with agencies or departments from the early stages of project design building logic models, to providing ongoing formative feedback from mid-course corrections, and tracking outcomes. Ultimately, our partnerships empower stakeholders to effectively serve their communities and sustain projects in the long-term.
I want to take a second to especially recognize our WestEd friends and partners. Their support has been invaluable and an integral part of the East Side Alliance (ESA). Over the years we have benefited from their action research within the ESA that has helped shape our practice and have benefited from their direct involvement with our symposiums from helping to set the agenda, collecting survey data, and providing resources.Manny Barbara, Vice President, Advocacy & Thought Leadership, Silicon Valley Education Foundation
Facilitate Learning in Networks
Responding to the desire from 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. As a research partner, we help members define shared goals, establish measurement systems, collect and analyze data, select and implement interventions, and reflect on progress over time.
Improvement Science methods that incorporate rapid cycles of inquiry to guide continuous improvement are one key approach. WestEd can provide training for education agencies, including districts, intermediate agencies, and higher education institutions.
I got to hear how other continuous improvement leads did their learning sprints and what data they collected. It made me feel better to know that other people were struggling with similar things. Then we could trouble-shoot and bounce ideas off one another: We tried this; 'What did you do?' I realized, 'We can do part of that project here...It was a support system.'Erin M. Ramirez, PhD Secondary Education Program Coordinator/Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Leadership, California State University, Monterey Bay